St. Irene Chrysovalantou

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Photo by Mohammed Alvi

St. Irene Chrysovalantou is a Greek Orthodox Monastery located on 36-04 23rd Avenue in Long Island City, NY.


The Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou was founded in 1972 by Paisios of Tyana. The monastery is located in the heart of Astoria in New York and named in honor of Saint Irene.

In its original form, the monastery consisted of roughly forty square feet of space in a basement of a house located where the holy shrine of St. Irene sits today. Today, the monastery itself is located in a 3-floor complex on Ditmars Blvd, the shrine of St. Irene on 23rd avenue is over forty feet high and the monastery’s main offices are located across the street from the shrine.


St. Irene of Chrysovalantou is a large modern church which has been transformed into an Orthodox sanctuary. The exterior has had some Byzantine style motifs added, and the interior is a beautiful mixture of classical architecture and intricate icons.

Life of St. Irene:

St. Irene was an Orthodox nun in 9th century Turkey. As the story goes, she was a beauty with long, blond hair. The Turkish king was looking for a beautiful wife with good virtue and so St. Irene was to the palace.

On her way to see the king, St. Irene met a holy man, on Mt. Olympus named Ioannikios the Great, who told Irene her destiny and that she should join the Convent of Chrysovalantou. By the time she arrived at the palace, the king was already married. So she went to the convent and became a nun.

St. Irene was known for her humility and eventually became abbess of the convent. In her lifetime St.Irene performed many miracles and healed many souls. As the story goes, an angel appeared and presented her with three apples from heaven. She ate the first one in tiny pieces over 40 days, cut up the second and gave pieces to other nuns who were sick, and they were healed. She ate the last apple just before her death at age 106.

Miracles of St. Irene:

The following is only one of the many miracles of St.Irene. This account was taken from

“St. Irene unfazed in prayer despite being on fire
One night as St. Irene was pryaing with her hands lifted up towards heaven, the demons came into her cell and began to scream in a terrifying voice. They spoke in an unfit manner and tried to distract our holy mother from prayer. They, however, were unable to faze the Saint. Nevertheless, the demons continued to taunt Irene and mimicked her by saying, “Wooden Irene, wooden feet hold you up. For how long will you torture our race, how long will you burn us with your prayers and how long will you hurt and make us sad?” Our venerable mother remained unfazed. This audacious demon then lit a candle from the votive lamp and continued to light the mantle and veil of the saint herself on fire. The flames reached down to the ground and burned not only the saint’s clothing, but deep into the skin on her shoulders, chest, and back. Her entire body would have surely burned had it not been for one of the sisters who rushed it to put the fire out after smelling it from her own cell down the hall. Unbelievably, the saint continued to stand unfazed by the whole event. Irene stood tall, hands still in the air and praying to our Lord above. “My child”, Irene said to the frightened nun, “why did you do such a bad thing and interrupt the good that was taking place? We shouldn’t think about the human things, but rather about the divine. An angel was standing in front of me weaving a wreath of various marvellous and fragrant flowers and as he stretched out his hand to place this wreath on my head, you came in. You thought that you were committing a praiseworthy act but instead committed a most unpraiseworthy act.  The angel saw you and left. You brought to me sorrow and I lost a great opportunity.” The sister began to cry as she began to gather up the fragments of our venerable mother’s habit. They were partly burned and stuck to her flesh. A glorious fragrance then came forth from her. This fragrance was sweeter smelling and more powerful than all the costly perfumes that could be purchased. This aroma filled the monastery for many days and the nuns glorified thy God for this was a true miracle.”

When we visited this church we saw baskets of flowers and more flowers in Ziploc bags. Since we were not knowledgeable of St. Irene’s miracle’s we decided to ask a friendly elderly Greek lady on the front desk. She told us that the priest blessed the flowers and when someone was sick in the family, the mother would take a small piece of flower and burn it and then spread the fragrance throughout the house.

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