Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery
By the toils and labor of our spiritual father Elder
Ephraim of Philotheou, and with the blessing of Metropolitan
Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, the monastery
has been operating since March of 1999. Before our arrival and
founding of the monastery here in Florida, we were living our
monastic life in the Monastery
St. Anthony the Great in Phoenix, Arizona and before then in
the monastery of Philotheou
on the Holy
Mount Athos, Greece.
Since our arrival in Florida, our life has been an intense sacrifice and struggle without pause. Firstly, we fought against much opposition to acquire zoning approval from the county authorities. After a much publicized ordeal and a seven hour defense before the county commissioners, by the grace of God and under the shelter of our Panagia's protection, permission was granted for the monastery to remain and to plan for future building projects. We fought for and permission was granted to begin a cemetery where our reposed Orthodox may be buried and commemorated in accordance with our most sacred Orthodox tradition.
Realizing the natural beauty of the property, we then commenced cleaning up the sorely neglected property: cutting down dead trees, removing old, rotted fences and clearing the overgrown brush. We had been working on this for over a year and the property has finally acquired a well-kept park-like appearance. In the meantime we have remodeled a garage, which we are now using as a trapeza (dining hall), fixed our workshop where we produce our beeswax candles, and renovated the church. These are the exterior projects that we have been working on over the last several years.
Most importantly, however, we have been fulfilling our duties as monasteries; i.e. the daily liturgies and vesper services, memorial services, and especially the Sacraments of Holy Confession and Holy Unction. In a time when our Orthodox Christian Faith is besieged by much modernism and heresy, we are standing strong in the face of adversary and are presenting to you the faithful the pure and uncompromised truth of our Holy Orthodox Faith, the Faith and Tradition of the Apostles.
Why is it that we are so convicted and determined to struggle and persevere under such extreme conditions? Because we ourselves have lived and felt the divine grace of God through the teachings of the Gospel and of the Holy Fathers which have been kept alive and genuinely preserved in the monasteries and we have learned the truth as to what is required to gain the salvation of our souls. This is why we have sacrificed our lives to the establishing of the monasteries here in Florida; so that you too may find spiritual renewal, rest and peace in Christ and Panagia's divine embrace. We have, and are still shedding much sweat and spiritual blood so that the monasteries here may thrive.
For those of you who have sacrificed either time or resources in the helping of Panagia's monastery, we want you to know that we kneel down in reverence before your piety and faith. For those of you who have not yet heard of or visited or helped the monastery, we invite you wholeheartedly and open-armed to come visit and experience this well preserved and sacred part of our Faith.
May we all continue in our struggle towards salvation and for the glory of God. May our True God, the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, reward your sacrifice with His eternal blessings. May the Sweetest Mother of God, our Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos be with you always.
The Brotherhood of Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery
Our monastery has three special feastday celebrations every year:
Our monastery is dedicated to the Mother of God and is named after
the famous church of Vlahernes
Constantinople . This historic and important
church was built by Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria
and was a great center of worship. Many miracles have occurred in
this now destroyed church. The famous and miracle-working
icon of the Panagia Vlahernitissa was located there, as well as
the robe of the Most Holy Mother of God. In the 5th century,
the miracle-working robe was found by two nobles in Nazareth and
brought back to Constantinople. The robe was ceremoniously
placed in the church of Vlahernes and a commemorative feast was
instituted. On July 2, the Deposition of the robe of the
Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated, and for this reason our
Holy Monastery celebrates its feast on this day.
In the Lives of the Saints, we find many references to the famous Church of Vlahernes in Constantinople. Below we present a few of these examples for your edification:
The Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Protection on October 1 and commemorates the appearance of the Panagia in the church of Vlahernes in the 10th century. St. Andrew the Fool for Christ and his disciple St. Epiphanios witnessed this miraculous event. The Panagia was seen covering the people in the church during the vigil service with her veil showing, her ever-protection and intercessions for the Orthodox faithful.
The wonder-working relics of the Great
Martyr Theodore Stratelates
were buried in the famous Church of Vlahernes. St. Theodore was
a Roman commander who gave up his military status and all
worldly glory to be flogged 600 times on his back and 500 on his
stomach, to be crucified, pierced with arrows, and finally slain
with a sword, all for the sake of our Lord and Savior