Along a windy road between the port city of Skala and the monastery in Chora is where you are going to find the sacred Cave of the Apocalypse. According to the Christian tradition, this is where John had the visions that became the Book of Revelation.
This location isn’t a cave anymore since, throughout the years, it attracted many chapels, monasteries and small churches that created an unusual and exciting architectural ensemble of sorts. Since 1999 it has been part of the Unesco World Heritage List together with the Historical Centre of Chorá and the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian. But here, we will only write about the Cave of the Apocalypse.
We visited the Cave of the Apocalypse in the summer of 2021 while touring the Greek islands on board Running on Waves. While we were researching the islands for this trip, Patmos caught our attention due to its historical value, and we were thrilled to be able to visit such an important place.
Before we talk about our visit to the Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos, we must explain why this place is so essential for Christianity.
The Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos
This place is believed to be the spot where John of Patmos received the visions recorded in the Book of Revelation, the final book of the Christian Bible. But, who was John of Patmos?John of Patmos was known for a few different names. He was called John the Divine, John the Theologian, John the Revelator, but he is called John in the Book of Revelation. The text in the Book of Revelation mentions that the author was in Patmos and, most historians believe that this happened because he was exiled there in the Roman persecution of Christians.
The persecution of Christians was quite common during the time of Domitian, a Roman emperor that ruled from 81 to 96. At the time, banishment was a common form of punishment for crimes, and those could go from the practice of astrology to magic. For the Romans, prophecy fell into the same category, so it makes sense that they felt like John of Patmos was a criminal.
In Patmos, John found a cave to protect himself from the elements, and this is where the revelations came to him. In the Book of Revelation. John of Patmos mentions where he is and addresses a letter to the Seven Churches of Asia. This letter to the churches always struck with us since one of these churches was located in Pergamum, and John says that Satan’s seat is there. This seat could be interpreted as the ancient altar of Pergamon that was there and now is the main attraction in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
But, back to the topic, John of Patmos also had a series of prophetic visions while in the cave in Patmos. These are the visions of the Apocalypse that give the name to this cave. In them, John mentions a Serpent, the Seven-Headed Dragon, the Beast and the second coming of Jesus. And this is why this is the Cave of the Apocalypse, and this is why we wanted to go there.
Today’s Cave of the Apocalypse can be found inside a small religious complex that includes chapels and a small monastery. The cave was transformed into the holy site by the Holy Christodoulos, who founded the Monastery of Patmos in 1088.
Once you get to the Cave of the Apocalypse, you go through the entrance and walk down some steps into a small temple beside the cave. There are historical paintings on the walls and other elements that can be found in monasteries.
From there, you enter the cave, and you cannot take pictures or film inside it. This is why all the images we have here are from the door, the entry of the cave, and you need to go there to see it with your own eyes.
Inside the Cave of the Apocalypse, the rock used to protect John of Patmos from the weather is ragged with three fissures that symbolize the Holy Trinity. From there, the voice of God was heard and dictated the text of the Book of Revelation to John of Patmos.
In the cave, you can see where John of Patmos used to sleep, where he used to put his head. Next to this, there is a spot that marks where he used to kneel and pray. Also, the location where Prochorus, his disciple and assistant, used to write his words.For Christians throughout the world, the Cave of the Apocalypse is an important place of pilgrimage, and it’s even more critical to Orthodox Christians. For us, it is a vital place in history, a location that we know it’s closely related to the most famous book in history.
Personally, it was quite an experience to sit down and look around the cave where the visions of the Apocalypse came to be. While I was there, I could only imagine John of Patmos sitting down, listening to the voice of God that was coming from the hole in the rock and telling him prophecies.
We could see the bay where Running on Waves was stationed through one of the windows, and we wondered if this sea was the same one that John of Patmos saw. Was this the exact location where the Beast with ten horns, seven heads, and ten crowns emerged and wondered the people of the world? We would like to believe so since we later went for a swim in the same waters. Nothing happened to us, and we didn’t see any signs of this Beast. Maybe we got there too late. Or too early.Patmos is a small island in the Dodecanese, there you can find the Cave of the Apocalypse, where John of Patmos wrote the Book of the Apocalypse and his Gospel. Today you can visit this location, and we strongly advise you to do it.
The Sacred Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos
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