The Holy Nunnery of St. John the Baptist
The north view of St. Prodromos
T
he Holy Nunnery of St. John the Baptist is 9 Km east of the city of Serres, in a ravine of mountain, surrounded by a picturesque and pious setting, where the soul is truly distracted from every prosy concern and rises to eternity. There you can experience the piece of sight and thew poetry of biblical tranquillity. You can experience an intact part of the Byzantine world, devoted to St. John the Baptist. The nunnery is surrounded by an atmosphere of eternity and real charm.

The fountain of the monastery The nunnery was built in 1270 AC by Ioannikios, who served as bishop os Ezeve (Dafni). Afterwards, his nephew, Joakem Metropolite of Zihni, during the year 1300 surrounded the nunnery with high, solid walls and endowed it with royal donations (monastery dependency and land).

In 1345 AC the land belonging to the nunnery was almost destroyed by the invasion of the Serbs. Only due to Helen wife of the Serbian Krali Stefanos Dousan, the land wasn't completely destroyed.

During the Turkish domination the nunnery had the great honour of welcoming the first Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios after the fall of Costantinople. According to history, Gennadios was Patriarch for 3 years, from 1453 to 1457 and then he resigned and came to the Nunnery. In 1462 he was invited to the Patriarchal throne for the second time, which lasted only for one year. In 1464 he returned to the Patriarchal throne for the third time, but he was replaced by Joasaph the 1st, not having even completed one year and as a result he returned to the Nunnery, where he died in 1472. According to tradition Gennadios grave was in the middle part of the catholic church of the Nunnery, close to the graves of the founders. The removal of his relics took place in May of 1854 and now are placed in a box. Close to the grave there is a marble sign, engraved with an honourable epigram by the poet Helias Tantalidis, which was sent by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, at the time of the removal of the wise Patriarch's relics.

The nunnery has been the centre of an uninterrupted painting movement. There are icons of the 14th century, some of the most interesting in our country and also beautiful wall paintings from the year 1630. There is also a wonderful icon screen made out of walnut wood and very artistically engraved in 1804.

In the square ancient tower of the nunnery, that was converted into a library, there were 100 hand-written volumes in vellum, 200 hand-written volumes in paper, 1500 volumes of different kinds of books, 4 golden bulls of Byzantine emperors, in vellum, 5 patriarchal sigils, 4 old codes and many other religious articles that were stolen by the Bulgarians during 1913 and 1917.



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