The exact dating of the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, also known as the New Monastery and Monastery of Skala, as mentioned in the Prize of the Monastery, remains problematic to this day. The heritage book and written history of the Monastery have not been found until today, while the registrations in the cadastre of the Monastery begin in 1834. The oldest source regarding the existence of the Monastery is the publication of Porcacchi in 1572. In the following centuries, the Monastery will also be mentioned by other travelers, such as Piacenza in 1688 and Tournefort in 1717, who makes an extensive description, even mentioning 100 monks. The erection of the first building core, the small rock-covered church with a few cells in the cracks of the rock, currently being the Katholikon of the Monastery, is identified with the arrival of the icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Hozoviotissa, to which the Monastery owes its name. The name Hozoviotissa, derives from a corruption of Hozovitissa or Kozivitissa, derived from the place name Hoziva or Koziva or Hozovo or Hozova, of the Holy Land, as the Wadi Qilt area of Jericho is still called today, where, since the early Christian times, there where important Orthodox Monasteries. From there the icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) miraculously reached Amorgos, by sea, through Cyprus, in the cove of Agia Anna, near the Monastery, during the Iconoclasm (726-842), due to the persecution that existed during this period against the icons and the idolaters.
It is reported that Panagia (Virgin Mary), through a vision, instructed the shepherds, who found her icon, to build her Monastery where the iron chisel of the master builder was placed, which was found wedged on the steep cliffs three hundred meters above sea level, the place where the bell tower is built today, and where it remained until 1952, when it fell. At that time, it was considered that a great evil would happen on the island and the great earthquake that struck Amorgos a little later was considered as such.
The originally one-room, vaulted church is being reconstructed during the days of the Byzantine Emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, according to a Golden Bull of 1088, which is not preserved, but both confirmed by the Sigillion of the Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople, of 1583, today in the relics exhibition of the Sacristy, and by a relevant reference on a silver inscribed hexapterygon, dating to the year 1682. The Exhibition of Ecclesiastical Relics is also housed in the Sacristy of the Monastery.
The eight-storey 40m long and not more than 5m wide building, has only one outer wall, while the sides of the cavernous pit on this side of the mountain were used as the inner wall of the Monastery. Due to the small width, the eight levels meet at almost no point at all. On the outside, protective shorings have been added in modern times. The visitor enters the Monastery through a door that opens to the east and has a pointed arch from above, dating to the period of Venetian rule. According to Miliarakis’ description, in 1883, the access to the entrance door, which was located in the middle, approximately, of the height of the building, was made with a wooden ladder, which, in earlier times, would probably have been mobile, to be retrieved in case of danger. The building revolves around a corridor and stairs, with arches and arcs made of tufa from Milos. The floors and the woodwork are made from the local wild cypress (Feida). The marble, embossed, decorated casings testify to the renovations of the church during the 17th century.
The building complex, in addition to the numerous cells and the Katholikon, includes the altar, the kitchens, the ovens, the warehouses (sodiastika), the box-shaped grain warehouse built (Oreion), the places for the kneading of bread and the storage of wood (kladario), the presses, the lime pits and the cisterns. The Katholikon is located at the highest point of the complex with the elegant bell tower and the impressive panoramic sea view. From a large opening at the top, the delivery of materials and supplies was and still is being handled using a winch.
In the Katholikon of the Monastery, in the wood-carved iconostasis, to the left of the Oraia Pili, the despotic icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Hozoviotissa holding infant Jesus (Vrefokratousa) or Glykophilousa, also known as Mavromata, but also as Ktitorissa and Taxidiotissa (late 14th century). It is the living testimony of the local oral tradition about the origin of the icon from Khozovo, Palestine. This is the Palladion of the Monastery, which is part of the procession on the island every year, throughout the Bright Week. It had a silver cover, probably of the 17th century, with the inscription ” ΧΩ ΧΩΖΗΒΙΤΙCA ΜΡ (Μήτηρ) ΘΥ (Θεού)”. The iconostasis also contains an icon of Jesus, Panagia (Virgin Mary) Portaitissa, also known as Theotokio or Mikri Panagia (Virgin Mary) that arrived here from Mount Athos, and Panagia (Virgin Mary) Vrefokratousa of Spiliani, also known as Samiotissa, due to her origin from the glebe (Metochi) of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Spiliani in Samos.
The icon of Agios Georgios Balsamitis (second half of the 14th century), from the homonymous church, glebe (Metochi) of the Monastery, is also located there. Finally, in the Katholikon, the pilgrim will see the iron chisel of the master builder, a living sign of the narration for the exact place that Panagia (Virgin Mary) appointed in order for her church to be built, as well as the silver inscribed hexapterygon of 1682.
The Exhibition of Ecclesiastical Relics is also housed in the Sacristy of the Monastery.
Wider area of the Chora of Amorgos
Means of access:
TRADITIONAL PATH: "Palia Strata" Route
Chora – Monastery of Hozoviotissa- Kapsala – Asfontylitis – Potamos – Cove of Aegiali
Starting Point: "Kalogerikos" Point in the Chora.
Morning hours: 08:00-13:00.
August 6th closed: Celebration at the Glebe (Metochi) in the Chora.
Guests should be properly dressed, men in trousers and women in skirt-blouse.