The Story of the Greek Monk who Lived Alone on a Remote Ionian Island

This is the story of Father Grigorios, a Greek-Orthodox monk who lived 38 years of his life, almost alone, in a medieval monastery on the small Ionian island of Strofades.

Father Grigorios passed away on Monday, 31 July at his home village of Agala, Zakynthos where he returned in 2014 due to ill health.

Strofades is a tiny island in the middle of the Ionian Sea. It is located 27 nautical miles south of Zakynthos. The only way to visit the island is by private boat.

The medieval monastery of the Blessed Mother of God that dominates Strofades was built in 1241. The monastery is a fortress that through the centuries survived nature and buccaneers.

In the past, many monks used to live there and among them Saint Dionisios the patron saint of Zakynthos.

Father Grigorios settled in the monastery in 1976. Until 1985, his only company was a lighthouse keeper and a fisherman who was bringing him supplies from Zakynthos every fortnight.

The lighthouse became automated in 1985 and Father Grigorios was left alone with only his chicken, some goats, the migratory birds and the occasional tourist during the summer to keep him company.

On November 18, 1997, a severe earthquake of 6.6 magnitude, centered on the Strofades, caused serious damage to the historic monastery. This was the only time that Grigorios fled the island for a few days.

Some repairs have been made over the years. The monastery tower was struck by iron bars to prevent it from collapsing, but it still remains in a precarious state.

Speaking to a reporter some years ago, Grigorios said that his diet was basic, mainly greens he cultivated, milk and cheese from the goats.

The lonely way of life he had chosen had an impact on his health. In 2014 Father Gregoris left his beloved monastery of Strofades to settle in Zakynthos, where he died on Monday.