History of Koudoumas Monastery - The founders Saints Eumenios and Parthenios
Koudoumas Monastery and its history
St Eumenios (left) and St Parthenios (right)
in a historic photograph
Koudoumas Monastery (Moni Koudouma in Greek) is a male monastery founded by the monks Parthenios and Eumenios, on the few ruins of an older 14th-century monastery (Venetian Period). Venetian documents refer to the old monastery as the “Monastery of Christ”, but it was later abandoned, perhaps due to pirates, and fell into ruin.
When Parthenios and Eumenios came to Koudoumas, only the small church of the old monastery remained. This became the monastery church of Koudoumas Monastery.
The construction of Koudoumas Monastery took from 1878 to 1895, with money and voluntary work offered by the local inhabitants.
The craftsmen and all those who helped in the building of the monastery lived in the caves in the west wall of the gorge, opposite the monastery and higher up.
There have been many additions and repairs to Koudoumas Monastery from that day to this. It contains two churches: the monastery church dedicated to the Virgin and that in honour of Saints Parthenios and Eumenios, whose feast-day is celebrated on 10 July.
Crowds of people visit the monastery on that date and on 15 August, the festival of the Dormition of the Virgin, to worship and participate in the great festival.
Saints Eumenios and Parthenios
Eumenios and Parthenios, who built Koudoumas Monastery were brothers from the village of Pitsidia, near Matala and Phaistos.
Parthenios was born in 1829 and his brother Eumenios in 1846. Their parents were Charilaos Charitakis from Pitsidia and Maria Androulaki from Lochria in Rethymno.
The children, christened Nikolaos and Emmanuel, quickly showed their love of the Church and monastic life, changing their names when they entered divine orders.
They became monks at Odigitria Monastery and later hermits in the caves of Martsalo, before going on to the Koudoumas area, where they lived for several years in St John’s Cave, St Anthony’s Cave, the Avvakospilio (Hermits’ Cave) and a smaller one next to it.
In the cave, the Virgin appeared to St Parthenios and asked him to build her monastery at Koudoumas.
The two brothers were destitute and building a monastery seemed impossible, but local people helped the monks, who were famous for their sanctity and the miracles worked by Parthenios, in every way they could.
Many miracles are attributed to St Parthenios, such as when he drove away the locusts devouring the crops in Kerame in Rethymno, when he filled the beach of Koudoumas with dressed stone for building the monastery, when he made the seawater sweet and many others. These are all found in the book “Saints Parthenios and Eumenios and Koudoumas Monastery”, on sale in the monastery.
The relics of the two saints are housed in Koudoumas Monastery and are exhibited to worshipers on great feast-days.
Note: The photographs on this page are taken from the book “Saints Parthenios and Eumenios and Koudoumas Monastery” (in Greek), by Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadakis.