Monday, July 26, 2010

0013 - Some of my favourite photos taken at the Holy Monastery of Iveron

The following photos are from my last trip to the Holy Monastery of Iveron.

The Catholicon.

Opposite the main entrance of the Monastery.

The coastal tower on the coast. Rumour has it that a tunnel exists from this tower into a point in the monastery. This tunnel however, is yet to be discovered.

Near the Agiasma of Panagia Portaitissa.

One of the monastery's many chapels.

A view of the recently restored tower.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

0012 - The chapel of The Athoniada Ecclesiastical Academy - Agion Oros

The chapel of the the Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy (Athoniada) was built in 1901 on the edge of a building wing which served as the guest wing of the Skete of St. Andrew (Sarai). It is ornately decorated with imperial Russian icons, chandeliers and other various items. Its templon is carved wood which is quite beautiful and is adorned with classical Imperial Russian style icons. Its walls are fully painted with classical style paintings with various religious scenes and images of Saints.
The chapel is dedicated to the Three Hierarchs (St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom) patron saints of Theological and Ecclesiatical students and studies.

I spent an enormous amount of time in this chapel as well as my fellow co-students. Three times a day every single day of the school calendar for Orthros, Esperino (Vespers) and Apodipno. This is we were learned to chant Byzantine music, learnt the typicon of the church, and served as chapel caretakers on a rotating roster.

The below photos I took of the chapel in 2008.

Iconostasis to the left of the entrance to the chapel.

Entrance to the chapel.

Some amazing chanters started at this psaltiri, Geron Meletios Sykeotis, Christos Halkias, Andreas Papadimopoulos, Rafael Smalios, Lazaros Tsetos, Timothy Diwema to name a few.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

0011 - Unknown Cell on the road to Stavronikita Monastery

On our way from Karies to Stavronikita, we pass this cell which is located right on the road toward Stavronikita Monastery.
From a young age we explored this cell which has been overrun by the nature and is currently in ruin, however it seems as though some restoration work has been undertaken in order to protect the church of the cell.
It appears that the cell had quite a large brotherhood judging from the size of the church and buildings in the surrounds. I have also come to this conclusion after viewing the osteofilakio underneath the church.

Here are some photos of this cell.

One of the quite large surrounding buildings to the cell.

My cousin John amazed after seeing the monks skulls stacked up beneath the church, close up for the first time.

Another photo from the osteofilakio.

This is how the cell looks from the road. See the scaffolds and evident restoration attempt?

0010 - The pilgrimage to Mount Athos of Professor James S. Cutsinger Part 6

Day Five: Sunday, 17 June — Great Lavra to Prodromos

The simantron (a wooden board, or sometimes metal bar, that is rhythmically struck with a mallet)

began to sound in the courtyard around 3:15 or 3:30 a.m., followed soon afterward—this being a Sunday—by the monastery’s bells,

which were rung by our new friend Father Efstathios. We attended all the services this morning—about six and a half hours altogether—including a blessing of the waters in the phiale (the largest on Athos),

which is situated just outside the catholikon 

beneath a thousand-year-old cypress tree

said to have been planted by Saint Athanasios himself. With only some fruit and nuts, a few small potatoes and salad, and a little bread the day before, I was more than ready when we were called to the trapeza around 9:45. Following a “brunch” of beans cooked in tomato sauce, bread, water, wine, and a little chocolate cracker something, we packed our things and headed down the path to our next destination, the Romanian Skete of Prodromos

(that is, “the Forerunner”, which is the epithet in the Orthodox East for Saint John the Baptist).

Arriving about 1:00 p.m., we checked in with the guest master by pantomime, he knowing no English and we no Romanian, and then, having dropped our backpacks off in our room, we continued our hike a half hour or so further along the road, following the signs

to Saint Athanasios’s Cave, which is reached by descending a steep cliff

leading down toward the sea. We found a quiet, shaded spot near the cave

and spent some time reading, drinking in the spectacular view,

and writing in our journals.
Back at the skete,

Vespers was from 4:00 to 5:30. A word or two should be interpolated at some point—and this is as good a place as any—concerning the carved wooden choir stalls that are positioned along the walls and around the pillars in the several churches we have visited, and sitting or standing in which we have spent a great deal of our time. With a seat that folds down for “full sitting” or up for “half sitting” or leaning, I find them to be very cleverly constructed affairs. For it is thus left up to the occupant whether to stand all the time, if his aim is to be as ascetical as possible, or only at key points in the services. During the two (or more) hours of services that take place every morning in a darkness illumined by only a few oil lamps and candles—well before the sun has even begun to think about peeking through the windows!—the stalls become handy places to doze. When “half sitting” you can rest yourself on the arms of the stall, nodding your head down to your chest, or when “full sitting” you can lean yourself back or to one side for a more thorough and satisfying slumber! Trevor was somewhat chagrined one morning to discover he had more or less slept through all of Orthros, but he felt better when I told him I had seen more than one monk do the same. Perhaps I should add, since this is now a public document, that I mean no disrespect whatsoever by this observation; on the contrary, it is one more positive sign of Orthodoxy’s utter realism—of its recognition that a man is entitled to his finitude even on his way toward theosis, its characteristic sense that all of life, even sleep, is somehow caught up in the dance of prayer.
This was my first in-person experience with Romanian chant, a very beautiful combination of Byzantine melodies with some simple polyphony. The thirty or so monks made many more proskyneses (full prostrations) during the course of the service than their Greek counterparts do, not only when venerating the icons but also, more rapidly and rhythmically, when repeating Doamne, miluieşte, Romanian for “Lord, have mercy”. After Vespers it was supper in the trapeza as usual, followed—again as is usually the case on the Mountain—by a short service back in the catholikon 

during which the relics were venerated, including those of Saint Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200).
Afterward we talked with Father Gabriel, a young monk in his mid-twenties, who visited the United States a few years ago on an exchange program in Maryland and who seems the only English speaker in the community. He informed us that services would begin in the morning at 3:00 a.m., but since we are planning a rather lengthy hike tomorrow we will probably just go to the liturgy, which starts around 5:30. We spent the rest of the evening strolling around the courtyard

and sitting on a bench, enjoying the beautifully tended gardens and watching the aerial acrobatics of some birds (we had also seen them at the Lavra) who build little nests of mud under the eaves. Trevor said they were his new favorites. I am very glad to have stopped here and would strongly recommend that other pilgrims include this community in their itineraries.

Much could be written about the light, or rather lights, of the Holy Mountain: the soft oranges and pinks of the cliffs during the liminal minutes at each end of the day; the twinkling, dancing play of candle flames and oil lampada reflected in the icons; the shimmering reflections of stars on the sea; the otherworldly blending of gold and silver—the two Trees of Valinor!—when the sun has not yet quite retired for the night and the moon has just begun her journey across the sky; the radiant faces of the monks in church as morning first begins to creep through the windows after hours of service in darkness and one begins to realize that the black-robed swirls of movement have been people all along!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

0009 - Father Tychon & The Holy Cell of the Precious Cross.

From the age of 12 when I first arrived on Agion Oros, the cell of Papa Tychon, The Precious Cross in the Kapsala region was always a source of intrigue for me and my fellow co-students who were appointed to the Holy Monastery of Stavronikita.
We spent countless hours wandering around the cell, it surrounds, and also with Father Symeon who liked to practice his english skills with us.
The cell is about a half hour walk from Stavronikita and is situated a very short distance from the cell of Father Symeon from Peru. I consider it one of the most beautiful parts of the holy mountain, the natural wild landscape and the peacefulness of its remote location awaken the senses and bring you somewhat closer to a state of total relaxation, allowing you to focus on bringing yourself closer to God.

For more information on the life of Papa Tychon, Geron Paisios's spiritual father see the below links in English and Greek.


Once again a special thanks to Giannis Kontsiotis who took the following photos from his visit to the cell on the 30th of June 2010.

0077 - A tribute to His Eminence Metropolitan of Kinsasa Nikiforos (Former Headmaster of Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy Mt Athos)

  There comes a time when we all must say goodbye, in this life, to those that have made a significant impact upon us and have moulded us to...