Under the Auspices of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
On Wednesday 13 May 2020 the Benaki Museum welcomes the exhibition Robert McCabe – Katerina Lymperopoulou ‘The last monk of Strofades’. Since museums in Greece remain temporarily closed, a video marks the opening of the exhibition, offering to public an online experience through unique shots of the works and the exhibition space. As soon as museums reopen and until 13 September 2020, the exhibition will welcome visitors at the S. & E. Costopoulos Gallery at the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture.
While museums in Greece remain temporarily closed, the public may experience the exhibition through unique shots of the works and the exhibition space at benaki.org/Strofades.
The exhibition refers to the history of a monastic complex (a fortified monastery) of unique historical, architectural and cultural significance dating back to the 13th century. This complex dominates a secluded corner of the Ionian Sea, a small island – just one-third the length of a typical airport runway. It is the islet of Stamfani in the Strofades complex. Despite its diminutive size, the island has a unique history and preserves rich flora and fauna, thank to its remarkable geological features.
Today, this monumental complex poses a huge challenge for Greece. Decisions must be taken promptly. The monastery is in critical condition, with an urgent need for restoration after two catastrophic earthquakes. The next one could spell the end of it. The island has strong links with St Dionysios, who served as a monk starting in 1568 and at his request was buried there. But in 1717 his relics and the seat of the monastery were “temporarily” transferred to neighboring Zakynthos after the monks were slaughtered during a brutal raid.
Could the complex come to life again as a functioning monastery?
Photographs selected by Robert McCabe and research by a team of experts organized by Katerina Lymperopoulou bring the island and its issues to life. The exhibition is in a sense a tribute to the last monk of the Strofades, who maintained the complex basically alone for almost 38 years and was a compelling but lonely voice for its restoration. In addition to Stamfani’s human history the exhibition will illuminate its remarkable and unexpected rôle in the natural world as an important migratory bird station and the site of one of the most significant forests in western Greece.