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Popular Narratives

Popular narratives about the wonders of Vyliza

Up high on the wreath and near the large stone there are holes and layers of wood. Here the monks had bee hives. Some villagers had wanted to bring down the honey with barrels and ropes. But a passer-by looked up as he was walking along and thought that the rope was in fact a snake and so he cut it and the whole things physically shattered. Perhaps Holy Mary did not want to hurt the beehives.

The monks had fields in the forest in Siapkalaia. One day as they planted wheat in the fields, night fell suddenly. So they continued the next which was a religious holiday. When the harvest came, the plots where the monks had planted the seeds on the holiday had no return while all other fields saw a great harvest.

Dimitrios Kalousios. Vyliza, The Matsouki Settlement of Ioannina 1992, p 113-115.

At one point workmen from Pramanta worked on the Monastery. A small boy was with them. When the work was done they asked the Head Monk of Vyliza for a much larger amount than what had been initially agreed. They took the money and went into the Monastery to light a candle before leaving. With horror and surprise the workmen saw the chandeliers dangling. Then they sent in the small boy who lit a candle but didn’t notice anything peculiar. As they returned to the village they all became ill and so they rushed to the Monastery to refund the excess money.

Dimitrios Kalousios. Vyliza, The Matsouki Settlement of Ioannina 1992, p 115.

“And so we entered the sanctuary, did our cross and said: ‘Holy Mary we’re not doing evil. We just want to light a candle.’ Next to the sanctuary there was an old wooden cupboard. We opened the cupboard… there was so much mold and a pile of books were just lying there. Now as soon as we, three women, had entered the sanctuary two empty slabs of stone started to make a poof-poof sound. ‘There’s a noise, we shouldn’t be here’ I told Nitsa. To which she responded: ‘We didn’t do anything wrong we simply lit a candle.’ We left the sanctuary and the pounding stopped. All three of us went in. I was the youngest but the others didn’t care. Now all three of us curiously looked into the cupboard but the books had so much mold we couldn’t even lift them. They were completely rotten.”

Ε. Μ. Resident of Matsouki, July 2012.

“My father, together with my uncle and grandfather had goats. The Holly Mary would appear in the evening and tell them ‘Leave from this place. It belongs to me.’ My father would tell me they’d keep their herd down by the Monastery. Once day Stavros and Vassilis were there and they climbed a tree in the Monastery’s courtyard. This tree was very tall, even taller than a mulberry. They wanted to eat the fruit but the door started knocking. ‘Knock, knock, knock’ they’d hear someone knocking from the inside. Back then they were children so they jumped down and ran straight to Saint Theodore Church. The old Priest was there and reassured them: ‘Don’t fear. Do you know how many times my child leaves the sheep over there and hears the knocking as she leaves…she’d say ‘Is she coming or going? Something is happening.”

Eleni Pappa, Resident of Matsouki, July 2012.

“They also once talked about a Head Monk that had seen a nun over there, opposite the Monastery where there is a cave. In that cave there were nuns. So she fell from one point straight down into the river and the Head Monk would say: ‘a cow belonging to the Monastery fell into the river. Go and fetch it.’ And they’d find the Head Nun as she was dragging herself from the Monastery toward the opposite direction. And she’d tell them it was me who fell and if you want proof my hat and a crate of corn are left behind.”

Areti Makris, Resident of Matsouki, September 2012.

A story about the origins of Vyliza

“No one knows what reasons had contributed to the monks wanting to leave from here and build a Monastery above the Christoi settlement, at a height of about 700 meters on a site they called Kontri. It is believed that they had left the Monastery because it was a crossroad for passersby or because some woman gave birth there and they saw it as an offense. They didn’t like the location, so they built a Monastery in a forest called Chelimodi in Matsouki opposite the village with the large lakes … Yet again once in the Chelimodi forest they did not like the location because it was opposite the village and clarinets were easily heard. Or perhaps it was sunless. In their despair one of them sees a light in the night. The light shined at precisely the location that the Monastery is today. So they marked the shining spot with a twig and went back in the morning and started building the current monastery of Vyliza.”

Narrated by Father Constantinos Mitsios, the Settlement of Christoi 08/28/1983 (excerpt from the book by Kalousios, Vyliza, Settlement of Matsouki in Ioannina 1992 p 29).

The Monastery of Plaka and its folk traditions

– A place near the river bears the name Perasma (passage). It was named this way because a monk once placed a bet with a Turkish Agha that he’d cross the river with his frock. The Turk unsurprisingly laughed at him. The monk crossed the river wearing his frock and made it to the other side. Then the Turk thought not to leave his horse in the Monastery as he had promised but the horse petrified just stood there. Then the Turk, frightened, fulfilled his vow to the Monastery and left his horse.

– A nearby downhill area is called Drampouliana. In the vernacular dialect of the area the term “ντράμπου” (drampou) means to slip. At one point the Turks attempted to burn a Church but upon reaching the area their horses began to “ντραμπουλιούνται” (ntrampouliountai). In other words they began to slip so the Turks left empty handed. From that point onwards the place retained that specific name.

Napoleon Mitsis. Folklore Collection of Art from the settlement of Raftanaioi. Students Manuscripts, Folklore Studies, School of Philosophy, University of Ioannina, Series 1, 1964-1965, p 91-144.

– “Opposite the Monastery of Plaka (Stone) was a forest with fir trees where the monks tended their herds. At some point herds from neighboring areas started coming to the forest. The monk then pulled out the icon of the Holy Mary, pointed it toward the forest and said, “Holy Mary, look at what the atheists are doing.” Suddenly a great disaster erupted which destroyed the forest and turned it into stone. This is how the wider region inherited its name.”

Stassinos Dimitrios. Collection of Folk Art from the Settlement of Monolithi. Students Manuscripts, Folklore Studies, School of Pholosophy, University of Ioannina, Series 3, 1966-1967, p 165-211.

Other Folk Traditions

“Over the 12 days to the run up of Christmas my grandfather would make a wood burning oven in the Amprovitsa settlement. Here, the people of the Houliarades settlement kept their sheep in a barn over winter. In a tray my grandfather would bake a hoecake shaped into a roll. Suddenly a goblin would appear next to him flicking through the ashes to get the hoecake. My grandfather would then threaten the goblin: ‘Leave or else I’ll hit you on the head with this torch!’ But the goblin wouldn’t listen. Then my grandfather would give him a blow on the head with the torch and the place would deafen with painful groans and the entire coast filled with meats. My grandfather terrified with fear told the village the whole story. In the morning they found the oven completely destroyed. The goblins did it to get revenge. The day after Christmas my grandfather was found dead outside the sheep barn. The goblins had killed him.”

“It got dark by the river and Gerodimos returned to his village. He lit some charcoal and put meet on a spit to cook. Then came a goblin and sat beside him. Over the charcoal the goblin placed a frog on a spit. The goblin then turns to Gerodimos and asks: “Is your meat better or is mine?” Gerodimos in turn asks the goblin: “Where are you from?” To which the goblin replies “I’m from here. Don’t you recognise me?” Gerodimos then states: “I am the tax collector and you’re not on my list.” The Goblin finally goes on to declare: You don’t know me because I own the village of Laggada which I took from the Koutlaious and Boutsouraious families. I will never allow more than three houses to be built in the region. The goblin’s words came true because those two families were never able to build in the region where the demonic goblin restricted the area to three houses.”

Dimitrios Benekos. Traditions of the Settlements of Petrovouni and Houliarades. Folklore Manuscripts of Students. School of Philosophy. University of Ioannina. Series 1, 1964-1965, Volume II (Λ-Ω), p 251-259.