Tuesday, September 28, 2010

0027 - The commencement of the new school year at Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy (Athoniada)

With reverence and according to Mount Athos tradition, the new new school year was commenced at the Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy. 

The Divine Liturgy marking the feast day of the worldwide Exaltation of the Holy Cross was celebrated in the academy's chapel. The Liturgy was lead by Hieromonk Timothy of Vatopediou Monastery, the curator of the Academy. Co-celebrants were Hieromonk Ierotheos of Simonopetra Monastery, Archimandrite Efraim, Abbot of St. Andrews Skete (Sarai), Archimandrite Ierotheos the Dean of the academy, Hieromonks Filotheos and Antonios also from St. Andrews Skete (Sarai) and Hieromonk Artemios, the geronta of the Holy Cell of St. Nicholas.(Dionysiou) The chanting during the Divine Liturgy was done by students of the Academy.
Many monks from the surrounding area, many pilgrims as well as the entire brotherhood of St. Andrews Skete, were present for the duration of the Divine Liturgy. 
After the Liturgy, the Dean of the Academy along with the teachers and students welcomed the secular Governor of Mount Athos, Mr. Aristos Kasmiroglou and a little after the Protos of Mount Athos, Geron Paul of Great Lavra. In addition, the representative of the Holy Monastery of Iveron, Hieromonk Antonios, Holy Monastery of Pantokratoros Hieromonk Epifanios, Holy Monastery Panteleimonos (Rossikon) Hieromonk Kirion, also attended.

After the formal welcoming, all entered the chapel of the Acadmey where the Sanctification  was conducted for the opening of the new school year by Hieromonk Gabriel, lead by the Protos Of Agion Oros. 
In his speech, Protos Paul of Great Lavra, mentioned the spiritual crisis which exists in todays society, the contributions that Athonias Ecclesiaistical Academy has made to the Church and to the Nation and the role that the Saints who taught and learned at the Academy played in shaping the history of the nation.
He also mentioned that all of the teachers and students were most welcome to approach him personally with any problem they may have and that he would use all of his efforts to maintain the continuance of the Academy. 

Archimandrite Ierotheos, Dean of Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy & The Protos of Agion Oros Geron Paul of Great Lavra.

Thanks to Romfea.gr

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

0026 - The history of Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy "Athoniada" Mount Athos - Part 1

The Seal of Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy.

On the Holy Mountain, over various periods many schools operated with the name "Athonias School". In the Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra, Saint Athanasios the Athonite is the first to create a school. Until this day the monks of Lavra Monastery call the area of the Monastery where the classes were held, "school".
However, the first well organised school, according to information contained in manuscripts, is established during the period of the 13th century at the height of the literary and artistic movement of the Paleologian period. It was based at the Holy Kellion of St. John the Theologian and was named "Theological School of Iveron"«Ιβηριτική  Θεολογική σχολή». All classes and subjects were taught in Greek. 
In the 17th century, we see an intense effort by papists to establish a school and a monastery on Mount Athos. Our Holy and Great Church of Christ managed to avoid the pressure and with many efforts eventually distanced the threat of the papists. 
In 1749 the fathers of Vatopediou Monastery with the many efforts of the former Abbot Meletios with the exhortations of The Patriarch of Constantinople Gregorios the 5th (1748-1751,1752-1757), the Patriarch issues a decree leading the establishment of a school close to the Holy Monastery of Vatopediou which was later named by Eugenios Voulgaris "Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy". 

 The ruins of the Athonias Academy built in 1749. 

The first appointed dean is Hierodeacon Neophytos Kafsokalivitis and he leads the academy for 3 years. After his resignation, the Ecumenical Patriarchate appoints Archimandrite of the Holy Sepulchre Agapios who on his way to take up his new post, was slaughtered by the turks on the 18 of August 1752 in Thermi, just outside of Thessaloniki. The group of Holy Martyrs of the Academy has begun. 
The Mother Church having a tireless interest in the newly established school of Athos, appoints by decree in the spring of 1753 the "wisest of the Greeks in the turkish conquest centuries" Hierodeacon Evgenios Voulgaris.

Eugenios Voulgaris 1716 - 1806.

During his deanship Athonias is named "Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy" the title it has retained until present day. During this period the Academy has its glory days it draws many students and gains fame not only in the Orthodox world but to much of Europe and beyond. Many students came to the Academy in order to be taught by the great teacher, Evgenios Voulgaris. 
Amongst those students, most notable is the equal to the Apostles, Saint Kosmas of Aetolia, Anthimos of Olympus, Iosypos Misiodakas, Sergios Makarios, Christophoros Prodromitis, Saint Athanasios Parios, Damascenos Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Paisios Kafsokalivitis, John Pezaros and Dionysios Platamonos.  In addition to these students the following were also very notable students: St. Athanasios Koulakiotis, St. Cyrillos Papadopoulos the founder of the Holy Monastery "Megalou Dendrou" in Paros, the first dean of the Chalki Theological Seminary Metropolitan Constantine Tipaldos of Stavropoulis, the first dean of the Seminary established by Kapodistrias on the island of Poros, Prokopios Dendrinos and teacher of the same seminary, Benedictos.  
The Ecumenical Patriarchate after the departure of Evgenios Voulgaris, made enormous efforts for the maintenance and upkeep of the academy. It appointed teachers and deans and with fundraising efforts it maintained the academy with care. 
In 1771 it invites graduate of he academy, Saint Athanasios Parios to be dean. Most notable teachers in the period prior to 1821 were Hierodeacon Kyprianos of Cyprus, who later was elected Patriarch of Alexandria, Nicholaos Zerzoulis, Saint Athanasios Parios, John Pezaros and others. 
The spiritual guide of Athoniada in this period was the former Metropolitan of Corinth Saint Makarios Notaras, who was living at Mount Athos during this period.

Regas Ferreos 1757 - 1798

It would be an enormous oversight if we did not mention as a student the great martyr for the Greek Nation and forerunner for the Greek Revolution Rigas Ferreos, who's contribution has been recognised over the century and a half as priceless.  
On the 1st of June 1801, year of Patriarch Neophytos 7th (1789-94/1798-1801) the former Metroplitan of Trikkis Ambrosios, Monk Christopher Prodromitis (graduate of the academy) and Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite are appointed administrators of the Academy. Adamantios Korais even though in France, is also appointed in order to reorganise the Academy due to the crisis which is beginning to be felt due to the difficulties of the period.
It is also important to mention that with a decision made by the Ecumenical Patriarch Neophytos 7th former Patriarch Gregorios the 5th is appointed as the Ecumenical Patriarchate's specialist exarch to the academy. His contributions turn out to be priceless. 

Patriarch Gregory V 1746 - 1821.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

0025 - A Visit to Mount Athos 2010

See the complete account here: http://www.doing.li/?p=9

0024 - The Holy Monastery of Stavronikita over the centuries.

One of the most significant characteristics of Agion Oros is that the Monasteries do not change much in appearance, as you will witness with the below drawing and photos.
Below is a drawing and photos of the Holy Monastery of Stavronikita. The first image was drawn in 1744 and the last photo was taken a couple of months ago.

The below image was drawn by Barski in 1744:

The below photo was taken by Sevastianov in 1858 - 1861:

The below photo was taken by Millet in 1917: 

The below image was taken by German soldiers in 1942:

And finally an image of the Monastery taken this year: 

See original article in Greek: 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

0023 - The reason why Vatopediou Monastery and Chilandariou Monastery have such close relations.

A centuries old tradition says that at each of the feast days of the Holy Monastery of Vatopediou and Holy Monastery of Chilandariou the Abbot of each Monastery is invited to lead the festivities of the others Monastery. 

This tradition has lasted due to the close historical relationship shared by the two monasteries which begins in the year 1198 when the Vatopediou Monastery donated  a portion of their land in order for the Serbs to rebuild the Monastery of Chilandariou.  The Monk Dorotheos in his book "Holy Mountain" describes what happened as follows:

...Before the Serbs arrived the Monastery is named «του Σωτήρος» "The Saviour's" and takes part in the joint signing of all Abbots on various documents with the last one in the year 1169: «Γεράσιμος μοναχός και καθηγούμενος του Χελανδαρίου» "Monk Gerasimos and Abbot of Chelandariou" The Monastery undergoes a period of abandonment and as a result it comes under the ownership of Vatopediou Monastery. 
In the year 1198 Vatopediou Monastery transfers the ownership to Saints Savva and Symeon, the great leaders of the Serbian nation. The transfer was also confirmed by the Emperor  Alexios 3rd Angelos. St. Savva (worldly name Ratislav) the second born son of the Serbian King Stephan Nemanja (1165 - 1227) comes to Mount Athos during the year 1191/1192, accompanied by his teacher, and without the knowledge of his father, enters the monastery of Thessalonikeos (current Palaiomonastiron) and moves later to Vatopediou Monastery. The reason St. Savva came to Athos to become a monk was due to the impression monks of Athos left during their visits to Serbia and thus he made the decision to leave behind the throne and his riches and seek the poverty of Christ. Later he will write in the Typikon «καγώ ο ελάχιστος πάντων και αμαρτωλός πορευθείς εις τι Άγιον Όρος, είδον εκεί αγίους και νόας σεσαρκωμένους εν αρεταίς, είδον επιγείους αγγέλους και ουρανίους ανθρώπος ...». " I the smallest amongst others and most sinful, journeyed to Mount Athos and seen there saints with many gifts, Angels of this world and heavenly people" In November of 1196, his father Stephan the King, arrives on Athos and goes to Vatopediou Monastery to find his son. 
King Stephan who had already worn monks clothing in March of the same year at the Holy Monastery of Studenica, arrives to state his allegiance and obedience to his son and to be tonsured a monk. The Kings son becomes his natural father's, spiritual father, and he tests him in order to become a monk. The king undertakes all of the tasks of modesty as prescribed by his son as an excellent student. St. Savva eventually tonsures his father a monk and grants him the name of Symeon. At the same time, his mother Anna is tonsured a nun, in Serbia,  taking the name of Anastasia.

The time comes for them both to ask for the land which they saw fit for the inception of the Lavra of the Serbs. The document transferring the ownership which was created in the year 1198 signed by the Protos of Athos Gerasimos and the other 24 Abbots is as follows: "King Symeon and his son Savvas came to Mount Athos and whilst staying at the Monastery of Vatopediou, after a while have requested via the Holy Synaksis from the Emperor Alexios 3rd Angelos, for the Monastery of Chelandariou which exists in the place called "Myleon" on the borders of Vatopediou. The Holy Synaxis confirms that Chilandariou and buildings in its surrounds even if they belong to Vatopediou will be transferred by Imperial Chrysobull as per the application of the two Serbian nobles in order for them to create a Monastery. The two Serbian nobles accept this however have asked for a document confirming the gift" 
The Holy Synaxis decides to send Monk Nikon as  a representative to Constantinople in order to ask for the publishing of an Imperial Chrysobull. Monk Nikon departs the Holy Mountain in June 1198 and returns in the same month bringing with him the Imperial document. In the document Emperor Alexios praises Saints Savva and Symeon and then goes on to explain that the Chelandariou Monastery will no longer be a dependancy of the Vatopediou Monastery and that it will be a monastery in its own right,  funded by the Serbian nation as the Iveron Monastery is funded by the Georgians and the Amalfion Monastery is funded by the Italians. (Please note this is a historical reference). 


The Vatopediou Monastery was the spiritual provider and nurturer of Saint Savva (1176-1235) the great leader of the Serbian nation and also of his father Saint Symeon to which the Monastery donated Chelandariou. This donation was considered a great gesture in the eyes of the Serbian royal family. Firstly King Stefan Dousan shows great interest in the Monastery. In his document dated April 1348, he writes about his longing for many years to visit Athos, and explains the love that his kingdom has towards Vatopediou Monastery. In this document, King Stefan Dousan not only confirms ownership of of various buildings of the Monastery he also donates an entire town, Saint Mamanta, and some other areas which were inhabited by Barbarine soldiers. In another document dated November 1369, Despot John Englezia, returns an annual tax which was imposed on  the Monastery for the lake Buru, expressing this way his gratefulness to the most Holy Theotokos. The donations of Serbian nobles over time grow. The Despot John Lazarevitch bequests to the Monastery 60 litres of silver annually as well as the town of Koptinivnitsa  (July 1417) and the great Tselnik Radic donates to the Monastery another town, Belopoltzie in Moravia (March 1432). The two above mentioned documents are confirmed with another two (1427 and 1432) written by the Despot George Brankovic. The last act between the Monastery and the Serbian royals is a document of 1432 in which Vatopediou Monastery gives to the noble brothers Radoslav and Michael "The tower of Koletzi" and the huts on the interior of the walls as well as the surrounding areas. In the document, its defined that 6 monks and a priest should be stationed there.  

Translated by George Frangos from the original text in Greek on the following link:  


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

0022 - The pilgrimage to Mount Athos of Professor James S. Cutsinger Part 8

Day Seven: Tuesday, 19 June — Agia Anna to Simonopetra
Breakfast this morning was exceptionally spare, just a little bread and water, which we supplemented with some dried fruit and a few nuts from our backpacks. Actually there were also a few pieces of Turkish delight, apparently left over from yesterday’s hospitality for arriving pilgrims; this ubiquitous Athonite sweet, which is traditionally served to newcomers along with little cups of water, coffee, and ouzo, is in my opinion rather like lemon- or cherry-flavored Elmer’s glue even when it is fresh, so I decided to pass!
We stopped briefly to visit a tiny grotto—just below the guesthouse—

that had belonged to Saint Gerasimos (1506-79) before making our way down the several hundred steps to the arsanas.

As we were waiting for the ferry that would take us further along the coast to Simonopetra, a large supply boat docked. A truck

piled high with bales of hay was the first to come off, followed by a number of palettes heavily laden with pieces of slate

 for some of the construction work going on back up the hill at the skete. These two quite disparate sorts of cargo turned out to be closely linked, as lay workers and a few monks began placing the slate in baskets tied to the backs of some rather sad looking mules, who had already set to work munching the hay, gathering strength and steeling their courage for the difficult climb

ahead. A few pilgrims—perhaps better called “tourists”—who had also emerged from the boat had decided to take advantage of these transportation arrangements as well and were climbing aboard little wooden platforms strapped to the backs of the mules, their rather considerable luggage slung to each side. Although Athos has been referred to as a “Christian Tibet”, compassion toward “all sentient beings” did not seem the rule this morning!
A quick (twenty-minute) passage on the ferry, which afforded some spectacular scenery, including close-up views of a hesychasterion

perched just above the water as well as the monasteries of Dionysiou

and Gregoriou,

brought us to the port of Simonopetra,

where we began a somewhat longer (thirty-minute) heart-racing climb up the zig-zagging, cobbled path

to the monastery itself, which sits—rather precariously—at the top of a huge pinnacle

 of barren rock rising about a thousand feet above sea level. Speaking of Tibet, I must say that both the construction and the position of this latest of our Byzantine fortresses seem uncannily like that of the Potala in Lhasa, traditional home of the Dalai Lama. Perhaps a case could be made for an “immanent unity” of sacred architecture! The guest master, clearly experienced in these matters, quickly deduced from our soaking wet shirts that we had not been driven from the port at Daphne, which seems the most common mode of journeying for the other travelers who come here, and he very kindly asked whether we would like something to eat—besides the Turkish delight, of course!—to which Trevor replied, “Yes, please!” So after being shown to a spacious room

with a beautiful view of Athos, we were treated to an unexpected lunch of roasted potatoes, eggplant, bread, and fruit, and then we both luxuriated in our first showers in five days.
I had just lain down for a short nap when one of the monks, Father Maximos, knocked on our door, and I am now writing these words having just arrived back from a delightful hour or so exploring the monastery

with him in the lead. His name was mentioned to me before we came to the Mountain, and I had been hoping to have a chance to meet him. A former professor at Harvard, he has been here at Simonopetra for two years and was tonsured a monk just two months ago. He is now the librarian and took us on a tour of the forty-some-thousand-volume, multileveled facility—complete with computerized catalogue and moveable shelving in the stacks to save on space—all deftly wrapped around the mountain in the lowest reaches of the monastery’s foundation. Much of the monastery was destroyed by a terrible fire in 1891, including the library, but a few volumes were rescued and others have since been acquired from other monasteries, including a 1782 edition of the Philokalia, which he allowed us to hold. As we descended several flights of stairs, Father Maximos explained that the monastery is smaller than it appears in photographs (there are only about half the monks of Vatopedi) since the core is actually the mountain itself, and we could see this clearly as we looked into several side rooms, in each of which the inner wall was indeed solid rock.
We also visited the kitchen and trapeza, both of which are in the process of being renovated. Many beautiful, newly painted icons adorn the walls of thetrapeza, one entire mural telling the story of the founding of the monastery by Saint Simon. We then headed outside, walking along one of the eyrie-like balconies

where we could look down

on birds in flight—and then visiting the cemetery.

 As with other Athonite cemeteries, there are just a few graves (perhaps five or six) since the bodies of the monks are periodically exhumed to make way for the newly departed. Father Maximos explained that the graves are dug only about three feet deep. The monk’s body is laid right on the earth without a casket, fully dressed in monastic habit, and is then covered with pieces of slate before being buried (this apparently helps to keep the bones in place for ease of exhumation). The length of time the bodies remain in the ground varies somewhat, but it is usually three or four years, and of course by then the flesh has mostly melted away. The garments are still intact, however—“Polyester socks last forever!” Father Maximos quipped—and he admitted it could be rather eerie to confront the skeleton of an old friend still garbed in full monastic habit. An excellent memento mori! The skull and other major bones are then arranged in the charnel house with their counterparts from other skeletons, and the smaller bones are all placed in a common, metal-lidded ossuary in the adjacent garden.

Some of the fathers say the color of the bones is significant, an amber color being often deemed a mark of sanctity, while white “isn’t good”; in the final analysis, though—Father Maximos was quick to add—“bones are bones”.

"In each of the monasteries there are elderly monks who came to Athos in their teens, straight from small country villages, never having been on a date, never having seen a movie, without ever going to college—and perhaps without finishing high school. A younger, highly educated father described them to us, with evident affection and admiration, as incredibly childlike, though by no means impractical, people."

As published in ANAMNESIS the weblog of Professor James S. Cutsinger.


0021 - Old photos of the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon (Rossikon) Mount Athos.

The oldest of the following photos dates back to the late 19th century.

Thanks to Keliotes.


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...