Meet Sister Irini on Amorgos: A tourist that became a nun

She first set foot on Amorgos 35 years ago

In a beautiful piece, Terri Steel from National Geographic profiles Sister Irini, a tourist who first arrived on the island of Amorgos 35 years ago.

Seven years ago, Sister Irini began transforming a long-abandoned monastery into an oasis. Visitors come throughout the year to walk her bountiful garden lined with Byzantine frescos, to hear her story, and to purchase her magnificent paintings of religious icons. She first came to the island as a young mother and wife 35 years ago; after her husband passed, she chose a new path. Her name is Sister Irini, now, and she remains Amorgos’s only nun.
Amorgos’s many monasteries, among the oldest in the world, draw tourists by the thousands, mostly from France, Italy, and Greece, and its unparalleled beauty—rough and raw with azure blue seas and sky—cause one to slow down and linger. One tourist has lingered so long she is now a practicing nun.

Sister Irini moved to Amorgos and took her vows as a Greek Orthodox nun in 2011. She spends her days gardening, painting, and praying, but always welcomes visitors to her monastery, Agios Georgios Valsamitis (or St. George Valsamitis).

more at

Terri Steel is a memoirist and travel writer from Baltimore, Maryland. Find her on Twitter @honwriter and at her website.