The Holy Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Lechova is located on the eastern side of the mountain Titani or Veseza (1207m) at an altitude of 1050m, in the mountainous region of Corinthia.
From Kiato, following the road towards the inland of the prefecture, one passes through the village of Souli, turns left towards Nemea and reaches the village of Kryoneri. A little outside of it, there is a fork in the road that leads to the monastery (4 kilometers) through a beautiful route filled with plane trees. Following the gorge on the right bank of the Elessonas river, the paved road quickly brings us to the plateau, from where the Monastery appears in the distance, amidst the fir forest.
It is unknown exactly when the Monastery of Lekhova was founded. No written monuments have come to light, nor valuable manuscripts or books because they were destroyed by fires, earthquakes or lost in adverse historical conditions that disrupted or deserted the place for small or long periods of time. The only source of dating remains the catholicon (church) and specifically its mosaic marble floor. Professor Anast. Orlados, who visited and studied the Monastery in 1934, concluded that the construction of the floor was placed in the 11th or 12th century AD. During the same period, mosaic floors or mosaic representations were created on the walls in the New Monastery of Chios, the Daphni Monastery, the Monastery of Saint Luke in Boeotia, etc. As for the name “Lekhova”, the view of many specialists is that it is of Slavic origin. We encounter many such toponyms in the Greek area (Arachova, Varnakova, Lelova, Akovo, Metsovo, Lekhovo, etc.). In the Slavic language, the word “lecha” means meadow, field, garden. Therefore, Lekhova = meadow place.
The Catholic Church of Lechova, as described by Professor of Archaeology An. Orlantos, is a cross-shaped church of inscribed type, with an octagonal or octagonal exterior dome. It is supported by two columns, which consist of carved stone cylindrical shafts, and two pessoi (square built walls), which separate the main nave from the Holy Bema (Sanctuary). The main nave, in its elevation, is approximately square (7.20 x 7.25 m). To the east, in the Sanctuary, a three-sided external apse is formed and a circular internal one. The space is illuminated by the four small windows of the dome and three small ones of the Holy Bema. The narthex or porch (7.20 x 2.26 m) has two entrances. One on the west side (central entrance) and one on the south, a low porch that led to the old courtyard of the Monastery. The narthex is covered with a wooden roof and ceiling.The Catholic church of Lechova is located in the homonymous village in the prefecture of Messinia, Greece. The church was built on the ruins of an older temple, and its current form dates back to the 18th century, after the end of Venetian rule and the beginning of Ottoman rule in the Peloponnese.The church communicates with the main temple through an inner door, the frame of which consists of two marble columns of about two meters, with a double capital and relief representations of plane leaves or thorns. In contact with the southern wall of the main temple, there is a chapel with a width of 3.20 m. The chapel has the shell of the Holy and a cavity in the wall (Proskomidh). The space is illuminated by a very small window in the shell of the Holy and a larger one in the middle of the southern side of the chapel. The roof is a wooden single-pitched roof and follows the south-facing roof of the main temple and the narthex. The walls are made of stone from the area and the corners are made of solid sandstone built with clay. This temple is newer on the foundations of an older one. An inscription found on a marble slab, the Holy Table, informs us: “.1716 June 11 was selected”. At that time, a renovation was carried out at the end of Venetian rule (1715) and at the beginning of the Second Turkish Rule in the Peloponnese. The inauguration of the last temple, which, after many trials, has survived to this day, took place. The Catholic Church of Lechova has recently been declared an archaeological monument by the Ministry of Culture. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, maintenance, fixation, restoration, and highlighting work on the monument were carried out with the permission and supervision of the Archaeological Service.
A rare jewel of the temple, significant both artistically and as a decisive element for dating the church, is the marble mosaic floor. A. Orlándos, acknowledging its importance, wrote in 1935: “But what makes the church of the Monastery of Lechova valuable is its floor, which is entirely covered with a beautiful marble mosaic kept in relatively good condition.” Small, multicolored marble pieces – tesserae – have been skillfully combined by the Byzantine mosaicist to form intricate designs that adorn the narthex, the church, and the side chapel. Let’s examine this marvelous marble work in detail. In the vestibule (porch), an excellent impression is made by the representation with the three rectangular shapes placed in a row, from which the middle one carries a beautiful green disc with a diameter of 18 cm in the center. The disc is surrounded by a circular embossed frame and other concentric circles dominated by decoration with alternating black and white triangular tesserae. The outer circle is white, consisting of larger pieces of marble and is more prominent as it is surrounded by small tesserae of various shades in the shape of a cross. Thus, a regular inscribed square is formed with them. The two lateral rectangles have a simple decoration. They are surrounded by a frame decorated with black and white tesserae, but there is no design in the middle. This highlights the central rectangular shape with the richest decoration of the concentric circles. Architecture: The Catholic Church of Lechova, as described by Professor of Archaeology An. Orlandos, is a cross-shaped church with an octagonal or octagonal exterior dome. This is supported by two columns, which consist of carved stone cylindrical vertebrae, and two pessoi (square masonry walls), which separate the main nave from the Holy Bema (sanctuary). The main nave, in its elevation, is approximately square (7.20 X 7.25 m). To the east, in the Holy Bema, there is a three-sided external and circular internal apse. The space is illuminated by the 4 small windows of the dome and by three small windows of the Holy Bema. The narthex or porch (7.20 X 2.26 m) has two entrances, one on the west side (central entrance) and one on the south side, a low porch that led to the old courtyard of the Monastery. The narthex is covered with a wooden roof and ceiling. It communicates with the main nave through inner doors, whose frame consists of two marble columns, about two meters high, with a double entablature and relief representations of plane tree or thorn leaves. In contact with the southern wall of the main nave, there is a chapel with a width of 3.20 m. It is also worth noting that the two oblique rectangles have a different direction, opposite to the middle one, for reasons of harmony. One admires in the marble decoration of the narthex the sense of proportions, measure and simplicity in this geometric representation that causes a first emotion in the worshipper as he sees in it the love and sensitivity, religious and artistic, of the unknown medieval artist. Moving from the narthex to the main nave, just in front of its entrance, the charming image of a bird with a tall neck, long and thin legs, and a small beak catches one’s attention and interest. This bird, formed with very fine tiles, protrudes into a deep red background, of a semi-circular shape composed of marble slabs. The red depth is surrounded by a frame with a diamond-shaped ornament.
In the library of the monastery, only a few manuscripts or documents have been preserved. The ravages of time, the historical adventures of the monastery, and a recent fire (1927) have deprived us of a better picture of its spiritual wealth. No patriarchal documents were found that would give some information about the founder or the privileges and rights of the monastery. In an earlier recording, there were Turkish documents (kitaps) in Lehovo that concerned the property and rights of the monastery. They were lost or burned. Only two manuscripts have been preserved: a small Agiasmatarion, which contains the small blessing, and the other is a Canonarium, which contains the sacred Canons of the Church and answers to related questions. From the printed books, we can distinguish the Eirmologion of 1790 and Iconographic texts (Old and New Testament), as well as Gospels of approximately the same period. Remarkable liturgical books are the Menaea of 1820 (edition in Venice). A series of other books found in the library are more recent, but noteworthy for giving an idea of the monks’ philomathy who lived here at various times. The surviving documents in the Monastery’s Archive and the various publications of the 19th and 20th centuries provide us with characteristic information about the life and activities of the monks, unique in historical significance and real value.
In the State Archives, there are 105 documents concerning the Monastery of Lechova, referring to various cases, between 1835-1852. Additionally, some more recent correspondence between the Monastery and the Holy Metropolis of Corinth and other government services is preserved. Within the Monastery, there are a few early Christian remains with sculptural decoration originating from the original temple. Two silver reliquaries house holy relics, a silver Gospel, and a silver censer are all the oldest sacred treasures of the Monastery. The holy and miraculous icon of the Virgin of the Passion, from the late 17th or early 18th century, and a few newer sacred icons have arrived in our days, being kept in the Monastery and sanctifying those who worship them “soul and heart”.
The holy and miraculous icon of the Monastery has the following history: Until the summer of 1993, there was an icon with many damages from time and humidity. It was decided to be maintained by a specialist conservator. Thus, during the maintenance, the original was revealed, that is, the first-ever icon painted on the wood. Other hands had corrected or covered the old painting over time. This is called overpainting and we encounter it in old icons. The image dates back to the late 17th or early 18th century, approximately 300 years ago. It is the work of the Zakynthian iconographer Theodoros Anagnostes, also known as Papantonis Georganas.
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