The monastery of Agianni of Rogovou in Tsepelovo

• Zagori • Paths • Tsepelovo • History • Saint Nikolaos • Saint John

The monastery is built very close in the beginning of Viko’s ravine, in the small Vikaki, as is characteristically named the region. Geographically is located between Tsepelovo and Kapesovo. When we are refered to the name Rogovo we don’t mean only the monastery, but also the buildings around it and the rest of the area of approximately 3.000 acres. As for the etymology of the word the opinions diverge. Many consider it Slavick word (the conclusion – vo is Slavick and means place) that probably means “place from rogkia”, that is an expression for a destroyed place. Evripidis Giannakos, a schoolteacher, scholar, writer and appreciable researcher of Zagori’s history, reports that in Slavick Rogovo means ravine-place. Costas Oikonomou in his book on toponymy of Zagori reports: «at my opinion it is Slavick aggressive shaping from the Slavick “the” and the aggressive conclusion “ono”. The word p>9 is not used here with the meaning “keras”, but as a geographic term with the meaning “language, band of ground”, identical with the Epiru’s word “zone”».

With regard to the chronology of the monastery construction the opinions converge between the years 1028 and 1034, from Poulcheria – sister of Romanos Argirou, emperor of Byzantium. The first however building was totally destroyed and rebuild in 1749, chronology that is known by a sign above the church’s entry. The monastery was painted 16 years after its’ construction with the donation of Kontodimou brothers from Vradeto and Georgiou Pashale from Kapesovo.

Hagiographers from Kapesovo painted the church with representations from the Old and the New Testament, with Saints’ miracles and with an originality: as we enter in the catholic from the left side they painted the faces of brothers Kontodimou, who offered the money for the hagiography. Today from the pictures of the two brothers it is saved only Christodoulou Kontodimou, while from Noutsou is only saved a small part. In the region of Zagori it was used to paint with the Saints and political faces that had contributed in the construction or illustration of holy monumnets.

In order to enter from the narthex in catholoc one should go down 3 or 4 steps, something that we also meet in the churches of other monasteries. As uncommon it is also the fact that the monastery has a small door. The explanation that is given from many is that the low door did not allow the Turks to enter in the church on their horse, as they used to do in many occassions.

Entering therefore in the catholic apart from the remarkable hagiography one is also impressed from the golden-plated wooden temple, that fortunately is maintained in a very good condition. From the pictures we can draw a lot of elements, but also to bow the miraculous picture of Precursor, for which we have heard a lot of stories from the elders.

In the monastery are saved even relic from the Saints Dionysio Areopagiti, Pachomio and Theodoro Tyrona. These are kept in a silver box, that was manufactured by Dimitrios a goldsmith in Neveska in 1877.

Remarkable is also the narthex for its’ hagiography which was done in 1844, as we are informed by the sigh that is saved above the entry door in the catholic. Unfortunately however the various cracks on the walls destroyed tha hagiographies, along with certain inconscient human hands that engraved on them their names and chronologies, for what reason one can only wonder?

The monastery of Rogovo is constituted by the church and also by two other building units. The one, the bigger and oldest is found in the western part of the church and is constituted by three big rooms (“nontades”) and from an enormous “Krevata”, where a huge fair is taking palce each year on 24th of June. The other building unit, built in newer years, is found in the eastern side and is constituted by two rooms and a “Krevata”. The monastery as we have already mentioned was constructed by Poulcheria. This information is confirmed by a lot of researchers who indeed report also the opinions of the monk from Tsepelovo Neofyto and of the abbot Nathanail Mavridi. And this opinions are strengthened by the existence of vaulted underground at the constructed “anteridas” in the eastern wall of the abbey.

How nevertheless was destroyed the first building ? Was it destroyed by the Slavs or was it destroyed by the earthquakes and the landslips, that likely convulse the region? Nothing is ascertained today. However it is obvious and from the monastery’s today condition that the ground is unstable.

The second construction of the church presented cracks and responsible institutions of that time took drastic metres, a fact that is revealed by the “anterides” that were constructed. Despite the radical metres the monastery was in-dangered once again to collapse. The danger was located by our fellow-villager mechanic Aristippo Kousidi during years 1920-1927 who reported it to Ioannina’s Despot Spyridona. He showed interest and with the help of the architect Aristotle Zahou started the repair of the stonework with “anterides”. Few years later and specifically after the end of the Second World War.

Another repair of the monastery followed. This time the money were given by our fellow-villagers from Zagori. It is worth mentioning here few of them that have showed such a big interest for our monastery:Petro Giannako, Apostoli Kalio, Christodoulo Petrino, Odysseus Floros, Evripidis Giannakos and a lot of others. The priest Krystallis who was placed by the committee showed real zeal and love for this remarkable religious jewel. After priest Krystallis, in the monastery was placed a monk from Kipous, Anastasios (Anestis) Liagas. At the period of his stay the monastery was maintained in a very good condition.

From the building units that exist round the monastery one can conceive that it had reached in a point of grate acme. Evripidis Giannakos, who studied the community records of Tsepelovo’s, reports in his book “The monastery of Agianni of Rogovo”, that the monastery had in the past big mobile and motionless resources and specifically he mentions also the relative documents. Also I.Lampridis reports that the monastery had big real estate and in particular paid tax for this.