Monday, October 18, 2021

The Dragon of Mega Spelaion

Mega Spelaion, or Great Cave, is a large cave near Kalavryta, in the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Today a monastery is there known as the Monastery of Mega Spelaion, because according to tradition, it was in this cave that the Apostle Luke lived while evangelizing the area, and where he also wrote his Gospel and made one of his first icons of the Mother of God. Many centuries later two brothers who were monks, Saints Symeon and Theodore, found this miraculous icon with the help of a local shepherdess Saint Euphrosyne in the cave and a monastery was established. However, after the two brothers found the icon, deep within the cave, unknown to them, it is said there lived a dragon.

As the brothers were clearing the cave of all the plants and trees with fire, the heat from the flames awakened the dragon and it rushed to the opening of the cave, to flee from danger. However, as it emerged and attempted to escape, the miraculous icon of the Mother of God, which was resting nearby, issued forth a lighting bolt against the dragon, striking a death-dealing blow to a vital part. The dragon then collapsed at the mouth of the cave and rolled up. As it lay on the ground, it pounded and hissed in a terrifying manner. Then the flames from the cave overtook and consumed the body of the dragon, leaving as remains only its bones.

The destruction of the visible dragon is an image of the destruction of the invisible dragon, the devil. The discovery of the icon of the Mother of God made this haunted place sanctified to be an area where spiritual warfare could take place against the demonic powers.

The bones of the dragon were extant until 1640, when a fire raged through the monastery and destroyed them. Today, the deep part of the cave where the dragon lived is used as the monastery's wine-cellar.