Easter in Patmos

The ritual, customs, the ceremony of the Holy Washbowl and the representation of the Last Supper are several reasons to spend the Easter on the island of Revelation in a climate of special devoutness that exudes the whole formal and ritual of Holy Week.

The magical experience starts on Palm Sunday, when creations from palm leaves – which are like embroideries either cross-shaped or shaped in the form of a fish- are shared to the worshippers in the churches of the island. Moving on to the peak of the divine drama, on Holy Wednesday, locals and visitors go to their parishes, so as to get “smeared” by the priest with the holy oil, for the healing of their soul and body. On Holy Thursday, what spurs our attention and our awe is the special ceremony of the Holy WashBowl taking place in Chora of Patmos in the morning, according to the Byzantine traditions and it is an event that takes place only in Patmos and Jerusalem.

During the ceremony, the Abbot of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian,who depicts Jesus Christ, symbolically sprinkles the feet of the monks that represent his students and then he starts to follow his path to the place of devotion, reminding the worshippers the transition of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, where Judas handed him over to the Roman soldiers.

This special ceremony triggers the gathering of thousands of people from both Greece and abroad, while this custom starts in the 4th century and it was celebrated mainly in monasteries. In Byzantine times this custom was also celebrated by respective emperors who washed the feet of poor citizens.

The procession of the Epitaph and the sprinkling of the housewives with local rosewater is another unique experience offered to the visitors of Patmos on Good Friday. After the first resurrection, namely on Sunday of Easter in the Vespers of Love, the second resurrection takes place in the Monastery, during which the Resurrection Gospel is read in seven languages, while the abbot distributes red eggs to the worshippers.

In the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the whole island celebrates the resurrection together with the visitors of Patmos in the square of Skala, where the municipality and cultural associations of the island offer a rich table with Easter dishes, eggs, Patmian cheesepies and sweets, wine and an impressive show with local dances, which are danced by young men and women of the island dressed in the traditional costume of Patmos.

The ritual of Easter ends on New Tuesday with the procession of the holy icons in the houses of every parish, in order every house to have the God’s favor. The icons of the Holy Monastery are transported to the square of St. Levia in Chora, while the abbot sanctifies, and the monks worship the relics they have brought with them.

Patmos with its religious customs of Easter that remain unchanged over time is an ideal destination that prepares the worshippers to accept the loss of the Son of God and fully understand and experience the ultimate miracle of the highest salvation, the resurrection of the Lord.