Sunday, November 22, 2009

Exiled on Patmos

When I was exiled on Patmos

As a lad growing up near the Ozark foothills in Arkansas, I remember my Sunday school teacher teaching about an island called Patmos where one of the Disciples of Christ was exiled. Never did I dream I would ever see the place where John, the beloved disciple was exiled.

As a boy I could only image and thought it would be a small island with nothing but rocks and barren land. Was I ever surprised as we sailed into the bay and saw one of the most beautiful islands in the northernmost part of the Dodecanese complex in the Aegean Sea?

My first view of the island was a harmonious succession of rocky hills, peaceful valleys and green meadows that run down to a scene of beautiful lacy beaches, bays, natural harbors and capes. The amazing blue water surrounding it is dotted by many small isles. The most striking feature of the landscape was its tranquility, which, combined with the remarkable historical sites, the famous Aegean sunlight and the pleasant Mediterranean climate overcome me. What a sight!

After leaving the ship we began an uphill road to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, set like a crown on top of the settlement of Chora, which is the island's landmark. Its construction started in 1088, when the Byzantine emperor Alexios Comnenus the First granted the whole island to St. Christodoulos to organize a settlement for monastic purposes. He named the monastery and its fortress after the Evangelist John, who had written the book of Revelation on Patmos almost a thousand years before. About halfway on the hill between Skala and Chora lies the Apocalypse Cave, where St. John the Evangelist wrote the book when in exile by emperor Domitianus.

After arriving at the monastery, I noted it was constructed on five levels and is surrounded by impressive 15 meter walls and overlooks the whole island. The whole complex has, beside the monks' cells around the main church called catholicon, ten more chapels and an exquisite museum with century-old religious objects, paintings and manuscripts. My souvenir was a reprint of John’s original book of Revelation.

The islands architecture is unique, with century-old white mansions and houses in the traditional Aegean style, clustered in this picturesquely chaotic manner, narrow streets filled with the air of times past, and a number of traditional restaurants and stylish shops.

I must admit that having a knowledge of the book gave me a much better understanding of the surrounding that John had as he recorded what God allowed him to see as he in a vision was permitted to view of Heaven and reveal to us what the end times would be at the conclusion of our time in this world.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter”. Revelation 4:1

No comments: