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ReligionChristianityA brief guide to the Athonian monasteries

A brief guide to the Athonian monasteries

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To help those wishing to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain

In recent years, there are more and more Orthodox Christians who wish to make a pilgrimage to various holy places around the world. To help those who wish to make their pilgrimage, as well as to answer our readers’ questions related to such trips, the “Doors” team will expand its “Pilgrimage” column with practical guides and materials for popular destinations of the so-called “pilgrimage tourism”. Undoubtedly, among the most preferred places of worship is Mount Athos – Athos.

This is the name of a community of 20 monasteries (17 Greek and 3 Slavic) and smaller monastic settlements, inhabiting the eastern arm of the Halkidiki peninsula, bearing the geographical name Athos since ancient times. Its length is approx. 60 km, and the width – from 6 to 12 km. The territory is divided unevenly into the 20 patriarchal and imperial monasteries, which include another 20 or so hermitages and hundreds of cells (separate monastic houses in which from 1 to several monks live). Skits are called either monastery complexes, sometimes as big as the largest Bulgarian monasteries, but without an independent status, or settlements of several to tens of cells (houses in the above sense).

The Athenian monastic “republic” is under the omophorus (ie supreme authority) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. St. Mountain has complete administrative independence from Constantinople, but canonically the Ecumenical Patriarch has the supervision of spiritual life. The Patriarchate also has one of its own bishops there – Bishop Chrysostom of Rhodes, former rector of the Athos Seminary. However, he does not have ecclesiastical-administrative authority, but can only ordain hierodeacons and hieromonks by decision of a given monastery. His contact address is: Megisti Laura, 63086, Karyes, Mount Athos.

Since Mount Athos is part of the territory of the Republic of Greece, the state also has its representative there with the status of regional governor, who has his headquarters in the administrative center of Ato – Kareia. The supreme body of Mount Athos government is the Holy Kinotis (community), which consists of representatives (antiprosopi) of all twenty monasteries of Mount Athos. Each monastery elects its representative annually and the term of office of the kinotis starts from the new year (January 14 new style).

The executive power of Aten is carried out by the Sacred Epistasia (lit. “headship”, “oversight”), whose composition also changes every year, but the mandate begins on June 1 (14 AD). Since 1972, the Esphygmen monastery did not participate in the general events and did not send its representative to the general governing bodies (Holy Kinotis and Holy Epistasia), and did not allow the decisions of the Kinotis to be implemented in relation to the monastery. Therefore, a few years ago a new brotherhood was created, loyal to St. Gora, but it could not enter the monastery and now lives in another place near Kareia.

The monasteries of St. Gora are divided into five groups, each of which includes four monasteries. The groups are arranged as follows:

First group: Great Lavra, Dochiar, Xenophon, Sphygmenus.

Second group: Vatoped, Kutlumush, Caracal, Stavronikita.

Third group: Iver, Pantokrator, Philoteus, Simonopetra.

Fourth group: Hilendar, Xiropotam, St. Pavel, Grigoriat.

Fifth group: Dionysiatus, Zograph, St. Panteleimon, Constamonite.

Each year one of the five groups forms a Candle. epistasia, with the representative of the first monastery from each group being the chairman of the epistasia.

Short list of monasteries (ordered by seniority):

1. The Great Lavra. The monastery was founded in 963. It celebrates its feast on 5/18 (the second number here and below is in the old style – b. r.) July on the day of St. Athanasius of Athens. The abbot is Archimandrite Prodrome. Tel. +30 23770 23761. Fax: +30 23770 23013.

2. Vatoped. The monastery was founded in 972. Its feast day is March 25/April 7, Annunciation. Abbot is Archimandrite Ephrem. Tel. +30 23770 41488. Fax +30 23770 41462.

3. Sliver. Founded in 972. The feast of the monastery is on August 15/28, the day of the Assumption. The abbot is Archimandrite Nathanael. Tel. +30 23770 23643. Fax +30 23770 23248.

4. Hillendar. Founded in 1197. The feast of the monastery is November 21/December 4, the day of the Presentation of the Virgin. The abbot is Archimandrite Methodius. Tel. +30 23770 23797, 23760. Fax: +30 23770 23494.

5. Dionysiatus. Founded in 1375. The feast of the monastery is June 24/July 7, the day of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner. Archimandrite Peter is the abbot. Tel. +30 23770 23687. Fax +30 23770 23686.

6. Kutlumush. Founded at the end of the 13th century. The feast of the monastery is August 6/19, the day of the Transfiguration. The abbot is Archimandrite Christodul. Tel. +30 23770 23226. Fax: +30 23770 23731.

7. Pantocrator. Founded in 1363. The feast of the monastery is August 6/19, the day of the Transfiguration. Abbot is Archimandrite Gabriel. Tel. +30 23770 23253. Fax +30 23770 23685.

8. Xyropotamus. Founded in the 10th century. The feast of the monastery is March 9/22, the day of St. Forty Sevastian Martyrs, as well as September 14/27, the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of God (Krastovden). The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Joseph. Tel. +30 23770 23251. Fax +30 23770 23733.

9. Painter. Founded in the 10th century (before 980). The feast of the monastery is May 6, the day of St. George the Victorious. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Amvrosius. Tel. +30 23770 23604. Fax +30 23770 23247.

10. Dochiar. It was founded in the 10th century. The festival of the monastery is November 8/21, on the day of St. Archangel Michael, and also on October 1/14, in honor of the icon of St. Mother of God Soon-obedient. The abbot is Archimandrite Gregory. Tel. +30 23770 23245.

11. Caracal. It was founded at the end of the 10th century. The festival of the monastery is June 29/July 12, the day of the holy apostles Peter and Paul. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Filotei. Tel. +30 23770 23225. Fax: +30 23770 23746.

12. Philotheus. Founded in 990. The feast of the monastery is March 25/April 7, the day of the Annunciation, and August 24/September 6, the day of St. Cosmas of Aetoli. The abbot is Archimandrite Nicodemus. Tel. +30 23770 23256. Fax: +30 23770 23674.

13. Simonopetra. Founded in 1257. The feast of the monastery is December 25/January 7, the day of the Nativity of Christ, and July 22/August 4, the day of St. Mary Magdalene. The abbot is Archimandrite Eliseus. Tel. +30 23770 23254. Fax: +30 23770 23707.

14. St. Pavel. Founded in the 10th century. The feast of the monastery is February 2/15, the day of the Epiphany, and July 28/August 10, the day of St. Paul of Xiropotamski. The abbot is Archimandrite Parthenius. Tel. +30 23770 23250, 23609. Fax: +30 23770 23355.

15. Stavronikita. It was founded in 1541. The feast of the monastery is December 6/19, the day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Tikhon. Telephone and fax +30 23770 23255.

16. Xenophon. Founded in the 11th century. The festival of the monastery is May 6, the day of St. George the Victorious. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Alexius. Tel. +30 23770 23249. Fax +30 23770 23631.

17. Gregoriat. Founded in 1345. The feast of the monastery is December 6/19, the day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Georgi. Tel. +30 23770 23218, 23669, 23670. Fax +30 23770 23671.

18. Sphygmenus. It was founded in the 11th century. The festival of the monastery is on the day of the Ascension of the Lord. Tel. +30 23770 23796. The old monastic brotherhood does not mention the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch and has no canonical communion with the other monasteries of St. Forest. The new brotherhood, which has not yet entered the monastery, has an arch abbot. Chrysostom and phone +30 23770 23229. Fax + 30 23770 23653.

 19. St. Panteleimon. Founded at the beginning of the 10th century. The feast of the monastery is July 27/August 9, the day of St. Panteleimon. The abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Jeremiah. Tel. +30 23770 23252.

20. Constamonite. It was founded in the 11th century. The feast of the monastery is December 27/January 9, the day of the holy first martyr and archdeacon Stephen. Abbot of the monastery is Archimandrite Agathon. Tel. +30 23770 23228.

All monasteries of St. Forests are communal (this is the usual form of monastic coexistence today; the other is the idioritmena, lit. “in their own rhythm”, in which the monks live in one monastery, have a common worship service, but do not have a common table, i.e. they do not eat together ; they do not have an abbot, but a council of elders-epitropes – b. r.). At the moment of St. Gora has about 1,500 monks, including the cellists (keliots – from the Greek) and the inhabitants of the sketes.

If a senior Orthodox cleric decides to go on pilgrimage to H. Mountain, he is obliged for the purpose to receive a blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch. This is done in order to prevent non-canonical ordinations of clerics of Aton. All others who wish to visit Mount Athos, are required to obtain a permit from the Pilgrimage Office in Thessaloniki, which is located on Karamanlis Blvd., and respectively in Ouranoupolis – the port from where you enter (only by water!) Athos. The phone numbers of the office are: +30 2310 833733, 861611. You can get there by buses 38, 173, 546. Since the rules for issuing a permit to enter Athos change frequently, it is good for those interested to call the office first and ask what exactly is needed for the permit. In recent years, it has become more common for pilgrims to call the office in Ouranoupolis, make requests for permits there, and receive them from there immediately before entering Mount Athos. This avoids going to Thessaloniki, which requires 1 extra day. In Ouranoupolis the office has telephones +30 2310 252575 and 252578, fax +30 2310 222424.

Likewise, before going to St. It is a good idea to call one of the monasteries and make an arrangement with the person in charge of the pilgrims to receive you. This is especially recommended in the period around the Nativity of Christ and Easter, when many people go to St. A forest of pilgrimage. This contract is necessary because there are not always enough places in the monasteries for the accommodation of guests.

The permit or the so-called “diamonitirio” costs 25 euros. It gives the right to stay on Athos for four days. If necessary, the diamonitirio can be continued in Kareia. Sometimes this document can be requested from you in a monastery, although this is rare. It is good to know that if the permit is not collected on the day you were told to collect it, it will not be issued to you. This document is required when boarding the ship that transports the pilgrims to the monastery docks (quays), called “arsana”. The ship stops at the quay of Hilendar, Zograf, Dohiar, Konstamonit, St. Panteleimon and reaches Daphne, the main port of St. Forest. From here there is a bus that will take you to Kareia. All the monasteries can be reached from Kareia. Often the cars of some of the monasteries are waiting here. Transport prices vary and depend on the number of passengers, but initially these domestic transports are too expensive.

Those who wish to continue their journey by sea can take a boat from Daphni to the monasteries of Simonopetra, Grigoriat, Dionysiat, St. Paul and the hermit St. Ana. If the weather is calm and fine, the boat will take you to the hermitage of Kavsokalit. However, if the sea is not completely calm, his last stop will be the hermitage of St. Ana.

On St. Gora, in addition to the monasteries, cells and hermitages, you can also see the theological school, the so-called “Atoniada”, which was founded by Evgeniy Voulgaris in 1749. The school since 1953 is located in Kareia.

The Athonian monasteries have several courtyards outside the boundaries of Mount Athos. The most famous of them is the women’s monastery of Ormilia, which is the courtyard of Simonopetra. There are about 100 nuns in Ormilia. The abbess of the monastery is nun Nicodima. The contact phone is: +30 23710 41278 and the address is: 63071, Ormylia Chalkidikis

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