Saint Dionysios of Olympus was born into a family of poor parents in the village of Platina. When he was an infant, the Cross shone over his crib. Fond of prayer and reading spiritual books from his youth, St Dionysios decided to become a monk after the death of his parents. With this aim he went to Meteora, and then to Mount Athos. There he lived with a pious Elder, the priest Seraphim, and under his guidance he began to lead an ascetic life, keeping a strict fast. During Passion Week he went into the forest, and ate only chestnuts. Soon he was ordained deacon, and then priest.
The exalted life of St Dionysius became known, and many monks came to hear his edifying words. He also guided many lawless people onto the path of salvation, among whom was a robber who intended to rob the saint’s cell, but was moved to repentance by the Elder’s kind and wise words.
The brethren of Philotheou Monastery lost their abbot and asked St Dionysios to be their head. However, he did not receive enough votes, and dissensions arose. Valuing peace and love most of all, St Dionysios withdrew and went to Verria (Berea). Later, he fled to Mount Olympus in order to avoid being consecrated as a bishop.
Here those zealous for monasticism began to flock to him. Dionysios built cells for them and also a church and they spent their time in fasting and prayer. Having attained the spiritual heights, he worked many miracles. Often, through the prayers of the saint, the Lord punished iniquitous people who oppressed the monks of Olympus or broke the commandments of Christ. The holdings of a Turk who had expelled the monks and wrecked their monastery were destroyed by severe drought and by hail. The cattle of a herdsman who had oppressed the monastery were stricken with disease and sickness; because of her impudence, a maiden from one of the villages was subjected to an assault of the devil. They all received healing and deliverance from misfortune through the prayers of St Dionysios, after being led to penitence by his lack of malice.
The saint compiled a Rule for monastic life, and was an example of monastic activity. He built a church on Olympus dedicated to the Prophet Elias. He left the brethren his final testament about the monastic life based on the Rule of the Holy Mountain.
St Dionysios died in the sixteenth century at an advanced age, and was buried on Olympus, in the church portico of the monastery he founded.
Feast Day: January 23
The Holy Monastery of Saint Dionysios of Mount Olympus
The Holy Monastery was founded as Patriarchal and Stavropegic and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, following a Divine Revelation given to St. Dionysios. Later on, the name of its founder predominated. St. Dionysios created a monument of rare architectural and aesthetic beauty, ideally integrated into the natural environment; built as a fortress, from stone and wood, on a natural fortified plateau.
Thanks to St. Dionysios΄ blessings, despite the numerous destructions, the Monastery has been enjoying continuous life and a monastic presence for about 500 years. Due to St. Dionysios΄ personality, it soon became widely known and developed great spiritual activity, in line with its founder΄s pattern.
Centuries ago, the reputation of the old Monastery surpassed the boundaries of the Greek territory reaching Tsarist Russia.
Even today, thousands of people, coming from both neighboring and distant areas, come to worship and pray to the Saint.
The Monastery of St. Dionysios became an integral part of Greece΄s long history, society and education. There was an organized icon painting workshop and manuscript transcription center, in which many old texts have been preserved. The Monastery΄s school was attended by many pupils, including the areas΄ great chieftains, perhaps even Rigas Fereos.
The Monastery however was destined to be afflicted, suffer the price for its contribution to the education of the faithful, to the protection of traditions. In 1821, it was set afire by Veli Pasha, son of Ali Pasha. After a three-day battle, Abbot Methodios Paliouras was hanged along with another 12 monks at the central square of Larissa.
During the Olympus Revolt in 1878, the Monastery took an active part by providing shelter to the women and children of Litochoro; it disrupted for the first time the entrance prohibition for women. The Metochion of Skala was used as a replenishment and disembarkation station for the Greek fighters. During the Macedonian Struggle, it constituted again shelter for the fighters and a replenishment station.
Despite all the successive natural or volitional destructions and the ceaseless pillages, the Monastery kept on protecting the inhabitants of Mt. Olympus under its sacred shadow.
Because the Monastery is in disrepair, in the 1950’s a new Monastery was built nearby where the monks live today. The feast of St. Dionysios is January 23rd.
The Doxastikon of the Aposticha of the Great Vespers of the Feast of Saint Dionysios of Mount Olympus.
(Recorded at the Monastery of Saint Dionysios)