Yperagia Theotokos Myrtidiotissa (Holy Virgin the one among the myrtles), Pelekas
In the middle of the West side of Corfu, 15 kilometres from the capital, among the villages of Pelekas and Vatos, behind the mountain of Saint George and just after the beach of Myrtiotissa, in the 16th century, the monastery of Yperagia Theotokos Myrtidiotissa was built. In the beginning it was named after Yperagia Theotokos Faneromeni in Trialos. The place around the monastery is a beautiful green hill full of flowers, pine and olive trees with gigantic rocks around the mountain. The magnificence of Nature combined with the spiritual calmness makes the visitors feel impressed. According to the tradition, monk Daniel Kagkelaris who was also the priest of Saint Vlassios in Triklino, established the monastery. He built the church after miraculously finding the sacred image of Holy Virgin in that place. According to the Synaxari: A monk named Daniel, only child of an Ottoman King, became orthodox and was baptised in Venice. Then, he came to Corfu to worship Saint Spyridon and he stayed in Corfu for two years living as a monk in the church of Saint Vlassios in Triklino. Suddenly, one night, in a vision, he was lead to a cave where he found the sacred image of Virgin Mary and he named her Myrtidiotissa because the image was found among the myrtles. With the support of the locals, he built the church and he placed the sacred image there. After finishing it, he returned to the church of Saint Vlassios where he built the tower bell and lived peacefully till the end of his life. Under the rock where the sacred image was found, there is a cave with stalactites in the shape of doves and thus the area was named Peristeri (dove). The monastery took its present form around 1830 when monk Nektarios Grammenos was abbot. Because of its location, landslides often caused damages to the buildings. The biggest happened in 1920 when the building complex of the monastery was almost completely destroyed. In the manuscript of Amvrosios Paktitis someone can find more information about the landslides. He lived in the monastery since 1902 till 1956 and he was the one who as its abbot, helped rebuilt it. Various places (arxontariki, cells, kitcen, rooms for the visitors) compose the building complex of Myrtidiotissa. Its architecture combined with the amount of jewels make the monastery one of the most significant in Corfu. In the Temple, following the rythm of Basilica, there is a special crypt to indicate the place that the sacred image of Virgin Mary was found. In its position there is a dove made out of stone. The wood carved iconostasio is equally essential. It consists of many sacred icons in Ionian art style. The sacred icon of Holy Virgin Myrtidiotissa is the most important treasure of this monastery. It is created in an exceptional style and is an important benchmark not only for the loyal christians but also for all the Corfiots. Equally important is the library of the monastery. Professors Panagiota Tzivara and Spiros Karidis registered its components. In total, 22 manusripts, 182 volumes of books published since 1604 till 1900 of liturgical, spiritual, historical, literary and so on content were found. In the 19th century,the fraternity of the monastery was organised. They were approximatey ten (10) till the 20th century when the number was diminished and it was decided to merge with the monastery of Palaiokastritsa and Platytera. After the death of the monk Sofronios Vasilakis (1964-2000) the abbothsip was taken over by the abbot of the Monastery of Palaiokastritsa, Archimandrite Efthimios Douis, who organized the complete renovation and conservation of Myrtidiotissa. The Monastery celebrates the 24th of September, the feast of Holy Virgin the Myrtidiotissa.