On the southeastern tip of the famous Homeric terms Nirito, which dominates throughout Ithaca, among pine and cypress trees, is built for 300 years, the monastery of Panagia Kathariotissa. Standing there silent and majestic, in spite of time and winds. A few meters away from the monastery is the belfry, almost “hanging” on the edge of the cliff. On the ground floor of the bell tower is the chapel of Our Saints Constantine and Helen. The construction is “modern”, as the old bell tower of the monastery, destroyed by the earthquake of 1953. From there visitors of the monastery can admire views of incredible beauty as the southern part of Ithaca, Vathy, Perachori, vagina Eagle, Echinades Islands, Kefalonia, west coast of Aitoloakarnania and faintly in the distance the Peloponnese and Zakynthos to the right.
“High perspective” calls this place the Ithakisios historian A.Lekatsas, in his book “Ithaca” and geographer Iosif Parts after its passage by the monastery around 1891, writes: “Many of the easy to position access terms is worth a visit, however, the most beautiful view of the whole island, is the Monastery of Panagia in Pure, located at a height of 556 meters. The marble campanile located right on the cliffs above the bay of Molos * … “and continues” … the cordial hospitality of the monastery, which offers by pyrodes drink vineyards, allows the enjoyment of the magnificent image of the sun when he climbs behind the mountains of Aetolia which rise like dark silhouettes on calcined golden base or when sets behind the peaks of Cephalonia and immersed in the deep blue color of the rapidly oncoming twilight. “.
In Ithaca, as in all the Ionian never stepped Turk and for this reason, in the years to the rest of Greece was suffering enslaved in Turkish barbarism but also in the 1821 season, many known and unknown fighters left mainland Greece and They come to the Ionian Islands where they lived for a little free, recover forces and turned back to the fight. The history of the monastery begins around 1696, but the history of the image of the Nativity of Mary, devoted Monastery is even more old.
Lost in the tradition of the island, but always kept in the hearts and on the lips of all Thiakon. There is a relationship of interdependence, somewhere the story gives way to tradition and sometimes tradition is complemented by history. Some shepherds, So says the tradition of Epirus Ioannina, persecuted by the Albanians, with heart pain and fear, they left their homes and fled hastily to find place to stay for sure. On the hurry and anguish of exile, they forgot to take with their existing poorly and a miraculous image of the Virgin had. They wandered several days here and there and decided to travel across the Ionian Islands, which was considered a safe haven for the enslaved Greeks. So that people of Ioannina family fled to Ithaca. They set up their huts at the foot of the highest peak of Mount Niritos on the south side, in today Mazos, just opposite from the current monastery, located about 400 meters. however great their unhappiness when they saw that was missing from the few belongings they took with them their miraculous image. Sadness but not to last long.
One night just saw that there is now the church of the monastery, a bright light. They understood that at that point something happened (strong light is almost every feature of finding the Holy Icon of Our Lady) .the next day, despite all their research at that point, they did not find anything. The light continued for subsequent nights so thought cut holly, ropes and generally all the bushes and xerochorta around there to investigate better. Not the pile of cut shrubs fired. Surprised saw something in the fire shining stronger than the flames. With great joy and emotion sacred saw after the fire was extinguished, among the ashes, a blackened but not burned image. They swept the makeshift smoke and lo and behold, they recognized the image that had left the Continent, the image of the Virgin Birth. In tears all espoused the sacred image and took with them in their huts. But oddly enough the next day, they saw that the picture was missing from their huts. Finding found the place to initially find, on the ashes. This remarkable happened three times. The lost and always found in the same place. So they decided to build on that spot a church, to put into the miraculous image.
This church was the first core and the beginning of the history of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cathars. The exact date build the first temple in which was placed the sacred image Kathariotissa, is not known, since the references do not exist. But chances are that the first chapel was built in mid 16th century. As mention above the monastery was built in 1696 and as we are informed by Athanasios Lekatsas the unpublished story “On Ithaca” all the inhabitants offered for the construction and operation of the monastery. Later in 1702 and in 1703 Bishop of Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Ithaca Timothy Tipaldos proclaimed the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cathars in commune, that the monks living in the monastery had to have everything in common. By letter of the same bishop in September 1706 the monastery was exempted from its obligation as it gives 1/3 of gifts and other tributes to the Vicar. First abbot and renovator of the monastery was the monk Theophanes Alevras from 1696 until 1713. By the mid-19th century the monastery began to show serious problems, particularly economic. This situation continued until 1910, when the committee of women of Ithaca city, starting with the Zacharatos Maratou began to actively work to rebuild the monastery. This effort continued in 1917 abbot Archimandrite Ierotheos Kallinikos from the nearby village Anogi. Ierotheos Callinicos through enormous difficulties, such as wars and earthquakes, managed in many labors and efforts to renovate the monastery. All Thiakoi contributed to calls for the renovation of the monastery, especially the owners of Ithaca and those with the financial wherewithal. The same tactic was followed by the monk Samuel Molfesis.
Renovated mainly outdoors Monastery abbot and stayed 18 years until the death of the then 1982.Apo monastery run by a three clerics appointed by the Bishop of Lefkada and Ithaca. In early 1993 it installed in the monastery the monk Theodosius Ithakisios Vlismas, coming from the Holy Skete of Mount Athos. And he appointed the three-member panel and starts great renovators work with effort and struggle and assistance everywhere in Ithaca land. This work continues today with much love and interest. The feast of the monastery every year on September 8, with decorum and solemnity, with the participation of the Bishop, the island’s authorities and the county, the Philharmonic Orchestra of vol and Ithaca arriving at the Monastery from all over Ithaca but also from that other place they live. Decrease festival takes place in September 14, a day celebrated the Exaltation of T. Stafrou.
In the tradition after the Mass that day, sharing milk and water to the pilgrims beans because of fasting. Twice the image of the Birth of the Virgin moved away in the City of Ithaca. The first in 1928 after major earthquakes and the second on 23/03/1954, after the terrible earthquakes and katastreptikotatous 1953.