The Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of the Holy Trinity - Chalki
Religious life on Chalki began before the monastic settlements and Byzantine churches were built. It was a place where anchorites took refuge in sketes and hermitages during the early years of Christianity.
There is no verified historical information about the first years of the long history enjoyed by the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, but tradition has it that its founder, later canonized as Patron Saint of the Theological School of Chalki, was Patriarch Photius the Great (second half of the 9th century).
The fortunes of the monastery can have been no different, of course, to the common fate of ecclesiastical foundations elsewhere in the Byzantine Empire which were destroyed as a consequence of the two sackings of Constantinople. But we know that in 1540 the future Patriarch Metrophanis III undertook restoration work and laid the foundations of the famous library. In 1772 the monastery was renovated by Samuel the Deaf.
But the history of this outstanding holy isle was particularly affected by Patriarch Germanos I when in 1844, having first again renovated the monastery, he had it declared by synodical decision as «erected in order to serve for the greater love of God as a theological school.» The School building, designed by Pericles Photiades, was inaugurated on 6 October 1896. It should be noted that Pavlos Stefanovic Schylitsis, an immensely wealthy Greek, defrayed the entire cost on condition his benefaction should remain anonymous.
Now a Pan-Orthodox theological centre, the School dominated the island's existence. It had brilliant teachers and as brilliant students who came from all over the Ottoman Empire and from throughout Greek lands, some of them Arabic -and Slavic- speaking. After graduating, these students distinguished themselves not only as theologians but also as professors and entrepreneurs and senior civil servants, the attribute they possessed in common being 'an Orthodox way of life'.
As Phaidon Vegleris wrote in his preface to Akylas Millas' Chalki in the Princes' Islands, "Chalki has become an ark of Hellenism and Orthodoxy".
The cluster of monastic buildings is sited on one of the two hills of Chalki and overlooks the Sea of Marmara. Rebuilt from the foundations upwards in 1843, the Church of the Holy Trinity, which stands at the centre of the complex, is a small triple-aisled basilica. The main aisle has a tiled roof while the side aisles are flat-roofed. The lovely gilded templon is woodcarved as are the pulpit and episcopal throne. The church possesses many important treasures, among them the Palaeologan icon of the Virgin Glykophylousa, Reliever of Sorrow and another of the Virgin Hodegetria, probably a 16th century work.
The Patriarch's hermitage or retreat is a veritable paradise with the most beautiful and rarest flowers one can imagine.
Based on a law which prohibited the functioning of all theological high schools in Turkey, the School closed its doors in 1971. Today the complex functions solely as a monastery under the supervision of Metropolitan Apostolos. But it remains a place of Pan-Orthodox pilgrimage visited by people from all over the world.
Indicative of the degree to which the Turkish inhabitants of Chalki are attached to the presence of the complex is the fact that on the two occasions when it was endangered because the pine trees on the hillsides around it had caught fire, they hastened to help and the fire was extinguished by their efforts and the Agia Triada Manastir was saved.
Churches in Constantinople
Nikos Ghinis – Constantinos Stratos