South of Kefalonia, at a distance of half a nautical mile from the shores of Livathos, the rocky isle of Zeus rises.
Sharp on all sides and imposing, it has been characterized by Professor Spyros Marinato as “Marine Meteora”. The name Zeus received it, because in antiquity there was an altar of god Zeus on the rocky island. It is said that sacrifices were made at the same time with the altar of Zeus, which was at the top of Mount Ainos, hence the name Anisios. The coordination was done with the view of smoke.
The rocky island of Zeus during the British domination was a place of exile for clergy for intellectual and political reasons. Many priests, on account of the measures imposed by the English, were opposed and accused of pursuing popular uprisings against the English authorities. Indeed, in a specific civil matter, which had to do with the respected chronological system of civil status acts and was the object of the church, many priests resisted. Very powerful were the Lixuri priests who, in order to be punished, were resisted in Zeus and the Vardians.
On the island of Zeus, unknown when, and by whom, was founded the small monastery of Our Lady of Blacherna. There is no record of the monastery’s buildings, just by a photo I found on the Internet, which I publish, the buildings are shown and they are explained. But is that the case? The monastery’s income was minimal and was maintained by the charity of the Christians. Monks are found, three in 1805 and three in 1889.
In the early 19th century, he lived there for quite some time, an exiled priest from Zakynthos. His name was Nikolaos Kantounis. Priest Nicholas Kantounis possessed the art of hagiography, and painted the little church. The presence of the Zakynthian priest in Zeus makes us believe that the exiles were not limited only to Kefalonia, but most probably to the other Ionian Islands. Another priest, N. Dracontiadis, went to Zeus and there he sat for several months where he maintained and cared for the monastery. His own is the construction of the hundred-foot stone staircase, and the small dock. In 1867, after a terrible earthquake, the monastery suffered great damage. Then the Lixuriotis Priest N. Dracontiadis, appealed to Metropolitan Spyridon Kontomovihalos and asked for his help for his repair. Following the priest’s urging, the Metropolitan sent the housekeeper, priest Makarios Fragato, to collect help to repair the damage. The sums gathered were quite, mainly by the Kephalonians who lived outside Kefalonia, so repairs were made. It is also said that, and Saint Panagis (Papa Basia) from Lixouri, came and stayed in Jupiter for a long time because of his disagreement with the tactics of the English.
In 1953 the monastery was rebuilt by the devastating earthquake that struck Kefalonia. It was built, however, the chapel of the Virgin Mary at the expense of Spartan Doctor Marinos Vallianos, inaugurated in 1963 and still exists today.
I also have to mention that, right from the small dock, there is still a construction, in fact a column, which is said to have existed on it, a kind of winch, with which they were drawing the boat over the sea surface, for not to be damaged by the wave. Of the materials that have been used, and it seems, it is very likely that it was also made by priest N. Dracontoidis in the middle of the 19th century. Another information shows that the monastery probably had some estate on the opposite sides of Livathos. Shortly before we reach Paleologos beach in Klismas, to the left there is an area, an estate to say, called the Perivoli (or the pergola) of Zeus. Even on Zeus, from earlier narratives, I had heard that there was also a garden where the monks cultivated vegetables and others,
The chapel of the Virgin of Blacherna or Panagia of Diotissa, as the locals call it today, is celebrated on 2 July. This day, our Church is celebrating the Virgin Mary’s “Fellowship of Our Lady” in Vlahernes, Istanbul.
The feast of the Diotissa has been around for many years. There are reports (A. Warsberg) of a “sea litany, with many trimed boats and boats, which started from the port of Agios Sostis in Pessada, along the coast of Livathos, westward, to someone near the hillside, where many ships had been exhausted. ” It is even speculated that the litany was celebrated on the anniversary of the salvation of Apostle Paul, century had been shipwrecked in this maritime area.
The image of the Virgin Mary is kept in the Holy Cross of Pessada. The feast of Our Lady of Diotissa takes place every two days every two years. By boats, boats and other boats, the sea harvesting of the image starts from the port of Pessada, and the Sparti boats join (so at least a little before), to reach the chapel of Zeus where the divine service will be performed. After the divine operation, the image will be carved on the islet, from the church to the existing well.
Jupiter’s visit and participation in the Fair is a unique experience.
Sources: Spyros Matiatos
History of Kefalonia & Ithaca
– Ilias Tsitselis, Kefallinia composites.
– Proceedings of the Scientific Symposium “Identification of Cephalonia with the Melite of Acts”. Editing Proc. Agr. Metallinos.