Legend has it that in ancient times Patmos rested at the bottom of the sea. It was only visible when Selene the Moon Goddess would shine over it. Selene would often go to Mount Latmos to visit her lover King Endymion. This king was granted the privilege (by his father Zeus) of not ageing whenever he slept.
As he was often asleep, Selene would sit on top of Mount Latmos and talk to Artemis (Diana) who had one of her main sanctuaries there.
One evening Artemis noticed the small island glittering underneath the water from Selene’s beams as she approached. Artemis fell in love with it immediately and wanted it to be hers.
Realizing she was not strong enough to raise it from the seabed, she sent telepathic messages to her twin-brother Apollo, who was not keen on raising the island and spoke to his father Zeus who promised to help. Zeus asked permission from his brother Poseidon (Neptune) the powerful and feared God of the Sea, who had no interest in the little island and gave his approval.
And so, thanks to Zeus’ divine power the island of Patmos emerged from the sea in stunning beauty and the all-seeing Sun-god Helios (Selene’s brother) warmed the island with his rays and thereby gave it life. Artemis next persuaded some of the inhabitants of the area around Mount Latmos to go and live on the island - which they did to please her. In her honour they named it Litios that is another name of Artemis, meaning “daughter of Leto”.
An inscription in the museum of the monastery of St. John mentions that Orestes, pursued by the Furies for the murder of his mother, took refuge on Patmos and built the great temple of Artemis on the same site the Monastery is today.