A group of nuns have have fought off wildfires in Rhodes, Greece to save their monastery from being burnt to the ground.
The Orthodox monastery on the Greek island of Rhodes suffered severe damage from wildfires over the weekend.
Officials on the Greek island of Rhodes said Saturday they had moved 30,000 people threatened by wildfires to safety – including 2,000 who had to be ferried off beaches.
Abbess Sister Mariam and seven sisters stayed in the church as flames descended onto their land.
Tourists and some locals were taken to gyms, schools and hotel conference centres on the island where they stayed overnight, while firefighters battled the blaze.
Meanwhile, the nuns used buckets of water to drench surrounding grass land in a bid to save the Holy Monastery of Panagia Ipseni, according to The Times.
The Panagia Ipseni monastery is situated in a forested area about 30 miles south of Rhodes Town. The monastery was already inhabited in the early Christian era. The current structure is of much later date.
Three passenger ferries were moored at the port of Rhodes to accommodate those rescued, Athens News Agency reported.
The nuns took shelter inside one of the monastery’s churches when the flames got too hot while the abbess Sister Mariam led prayers, before the group later emerged unharmed hours later in what Mariam has called a “miracle”.
A single fire engine arrived in time to help tackle the flames as volunteers used garden hoses to spray water from a 1,000 tank.
Sisiter Mariam believes the Virgin Mary and the church’s founding saint St Meletios protected the site from harm, explaining that she had no intention of leaving the monastery as the fires raged. “I would rather die than see it burn,” she told The Times.
Another nun likened the event to Noah’s ark, saying it was a miracle in which God saved them.
Mariam had encouraged the other sisters to evacuate the area after smoke began to rise from a nearby village over the weekend, but the seven nuns refused to leave. The monastery’s front wall was scorched by the flames and the roof of the nun’s sleeping quarters collapsed, but the walls and floors of the building were described as being left “pristine” while the surrounding forest was destroyed.
(Picture Courtesy: Orthodoxia)