The Holy Monastery of Voulkano is located at the top of Ithomi Mountain in Messinia, where the sanctuary of Ithomata Zeus was placed in antiquity. To be even more precise, it is built at the junction of the Ithomi and Eva Mountains, between the villages of Mavrommati and Valira, which belong to the Municipality of Ithomi and where the Acropolis of Ancient Messina was once existed.
The foundation of the Monastery dates back to the 17th century and, according to sources, it is due to a Byzantine emperor of the period or to a lord to whom the surrounding area was belonged. Obviously, the name of the Monastery "Voulkanos", "Vourkanos", "Dorkanos" or "Voulkanis" comes from him.
The forerunner of the present Monastery is considered to be the Monastery of Panagia of "Koriphi" or "Epanokastritisis" with the modern name "Katholikon", which dominated at the top of the Mount Ithomi and was rebuilt around 725 by iconolaters monks. There was also located the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary as well.
But, the Monastery was abandoned in 1625 due to cold during the winter and a southernmost point was searched, which was found and is the location where the monastery is built in nowadays.
The Holy Monastery today
As far as its architecture is concerned, the temple of today's Monastery is of Byzantine style, cruciform with dome. It is commemorated every year on September 8th during the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, while on the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, when we have the central feast for both Monasteries, the temple of the old Monastery is honored.
Mostly on August 15th, the crush of people is great, since, according to the typical celebrations, the miraculous icon of Theotokos is transported from the lower Monastery to the Monastery of Koriphi, so the celebrations begin.
As far as the typical of the Virgin Mary celebration is concerned, this includes the descent of the icon in the city of Messina at night from 19th to 20th of September to commemorate the miraculous intervention of the Virgin Mary when, in 1755, a plague epidemic spread the death in the area. The descent starts at about 02:00 a.m. from Voulkanos and ends after 20 kms hike in "Mavromateiki Panagitsa" at 07:30 a.m.
Officially, the Metropolitan with a crowd of believers greet the icon at 09:30 a.m. at the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, at the entrance of the city. It follows a litany on the streets of the city and an eight-day pilgrimage to the Metohi of Panygirista.
We must emphasize that the Monastery is the first monastery that was built in the area. It has always been a male monastery and its operation has never ceased. It is now the only male community of the Metropolis of Messinia.
The Treasures of the Monastery
In the monastery is kept the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, bearing the inscription "The Odigitria the co-called the Voulkouno mount", which is attributed to the apostle Loukas. There are also many relics of Saints, as well as a rich library where old and new books, mainly books, Turkish documents, and four Sigilias of Patriarchs of Constantinople are kept, which recognize or validate the privileges of the Monastery.