Located south of Zakynthos and west of Peloponnese, “in one of the most remote corners of the Greek seas lies the tiny island of Stamfani, part of the two-islet group called the Strofades”. This small island has been the host of a massive fortress-monastery unique in Greece. Once a thriving outpost of the Byzantine empire, by 1976 was the home of the sole remaining monk, father Gregorios, who devoted his life to the care of the monastery until he died in 2017. Today the monastery lies empty badly damaged from the earthquakes of 1997 and 2018.
When Robert McCabe found out about it he decided to document the island and the monastery and make a case for its preservation. On his trips there he managed to capture the past grandeur of monastery, its unique architecture and organization and bring to life the sparse and simple lives of the monks who inhabited the island.
The book is organized as a diary with the photographs taking center stage accompanied by continuous descriptions from father Gregorios, the boatman who brought supplies to the island and the last remaining lighthouse keeper. The descriptions are interspersed with brief texts from experts who discuss aspects of the island, its fauna and flora, its myths and the history of the lighthouse. The book ends with a more extensive text on the architecture of the monastic complex, accompanied by drawings, speculating on its stages of development and documenting its existing state.
The book is a joint effort by Robert McCabe and Katerina Lymperopoulou, who researched the project and edited all the texts.