2179 – A flock of birds

On the boat between Dafni and Ouranoupolis, on the way back from the Holy Mountain, you are often surrounded by seabirds. Mostly seagulls that follow the ferry. They are so greedy that they even pick a piece of bread of a stretched hand.

low flying birds

The last time we left Athos, may 2019,  we saw a flock of different birds, flying fast and very low over the waters. They were shearing over the sea. They had relatively long wings.

Yelkouan or Levantine Shearwater

I zoomed in and took a closer look.

Only recently I tried to find out what kind of seabird this might be. I’m not an expert on birds but some googling taught me that it is probably an Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan, also known as: Levantine Shearwater).

The Shearwater breeds in the yellow section of the peninsula

According to the information on BirdLife International it is a native breeder on Mount Athos, especially on the stretch between Dafni and Ouranoupolis, where we sailed. It breeds on uninhabited islands or on very isolated headlands. The species is on the red list and is classified as vulnerable.

Bas Kamps

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2178 – Saint John Chrysostomos and his chapel from 1888

Saint John Chrysostomos

John Chrysostomos born 347 – 14 September 407, was an important Early Church Father who served as archbishop of Constantinople. He is honoured as a saint in many religions. The feast days of John Chrysostomom in the Eastern Orthodox Church are 14 September, 13 November (today) and 27 January. His skull and right hand are kept as relics in Vatopedi monastery. Some chapels om Athos are dedicated to this saint.

The kellion of John Chrysostomos, fragment

This is the kellion of St. John Chrysostomos, a large chapel and some buildings. Monks are walking around. This is a very nice print of the kellion, I found on the Mount Athos Heritage site. It used to be a Russian settlement in Kapsala not far from Karyes and Sk. Andreou.

The chapel in 2017

From a distance the kellion/chapel looks like this nowadays. It is in complete ruins. This happened with a lot of Russian settlements when, after the revolution in 1917, the influx of monks stopped.

The chapel in ruins
The same wall. The chapel was build in 1888 in the rememberance of the saving of the Russian tsar

The chapel, all though in a very bad condition, is still standing upright. The neighbouring buildings are gone except for a few walls.

the interior

When my brother Wim visited the destroyed settlement he went inside the chapel and made pictures. A few years later I visited the same spot but didn’t what to take the risk of entering the dilapidated building.

building next to the chapel

Creepers who has to be almost a hundred years of age, are slowly crushing the stones.

Skulls of the Russian monks of the kellion on the first floor of the chapel

It makes me sad to think that the chapel will collapse in a couple of years and that these remains of the Russian monks then will be buried under the stones and debris of the chapel.

Herman Voogd (photo’s also by Wim Voogd)

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2177 – Landslides and Tsunamis in 1905

Map from the article. The star on the right: the epic center of the earth quake.
fragment of the Mt. Athos map by Peter Howorth, 1905 landslides (arrows)
The smaller landslide of Kleftiko, the arsanas of Kerasia.

In earlier post we paid attention to the large earthquake of 1905 with an estimated magnitude ranging from 6.8 to 8.3. Eleven persons were reportedly killed.  In 2019/20 an scientific article was published with the title The Large Earthquake (~ M7) and Its Associated Tsunami of 8 November 1905 in Mt. Athos, Northern Greece by Triantafyllou, Ι., Zaniboni, F., Armigliato.  Its on the internet but behind a paywall. Fortunately some information and a few maps are available. It tells us more about the damage that was caused by the quake, the landslides and the tsunamis.

Iviron and surrounding land in 2013

Parts of the Iviron monastery collapsed including chapels. The ground of the monastery was shaken and new water springs were created. According to an eyewitness monk called Avimelech Mikragiannanitis.

The cone of Mt. Athos seen from Ag. Nelios which is situated right next to the large landslide
The large landslide of Megali Sara, not wide from Kavsokalivia but next to Nelios

The monk continues saying that the “ entire cone of Athos was reshaped due to the so many falls of marble rocks” . Lavra and the cells of the skiti of Kavsolalivia were damaged by falling stones.

Nelios, the landslide Megali Sara, St Peter (arrow) and Perdika (arrow) map by Peter Howorth

 “In the nearby arsanas of Perdiki (Pantes) five seculars and six monks were situated onboard six fishing boats. All of them but one monk submerged taken away by the sea which rose up to 3 m. For it happened that the uphill part of the mountain near St. Peter thrown down covering a distance of half a mile [along the beach]…One monk survived since he rest upon a wooden beam. He was also able to save a secular who jammed in the rocks…”

Herman Voogd, maps by Peter Howorth

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2176 – 30 years FoMA: a promising new Athos book is published!

Already one month ago a reader of our weblog Bart Janssens announced that the publication of a new book could be expected soon (see his comment in ‘About’). He described it as a beautiful new book with stories, testimonies and with 130 full page colour photographs. The book is published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Friends of Mount Athos (1990-2020). The book is edited by Athos map-maker Peter Howorth (NZ), Chris Thomas (GB) and the pictures are made by Roland Baetens (B), all veteran volunteers of the FoMA footpath team. And don’t forget that the foreword is by the Prince of Wales!

And now finally yesterday, the 28th of October, the book has been published, as we read on the website of the publisher, Brepols in Belgium. The book can be directly ordered here and it costs € 85,00. You can also use the order form below:

The book contents four parts and a map. In part one “Before” old stories are collected, in part two “Encounters” more recent texts about Athos are published, part three is reserved for the FOMA Footpaths Project and in part four “Back Matter” various topics are presented.

The FoMa 30 years celebrations and the publication of the book are also to be seen on this special site/blog that has been created. Here the FoMA-members can order the book with a special discount.

The new book and the map (source the FoMA 30 years site)

I hope to receive the book on Friday the 30th of October and I will keep you informed about it (and write a review later).

Wim Voogd, 29/10

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2175 – Athos related Portable Icons part 3

The appearance of the panagia (Virgin Mary) to Athanasios the Athonite, 18075 – 1975, Dionysiou, fragment

The miracle of discovering the place of Holy Water. The source of Athanios on the road to Lavra.

Miraculous icon of the Skete of Saint Andrew, 1850 1950, HCoMA, fragment

Triptych with amongst others the Panagia (Virgin Mary) Vrefokratousa, Christ Child, Saint Efthimios, Saint Onoufrios, Saint Savvas, Spyridon.

Presenting the Miraculous icon of the Skete of Saint Andrew, 1900, Dionysiou, fragment

Two standing saints. Left: Saint Andrew the Apostle, and Right: Saint Antony the Great. . Between them: the Miraculous icon of the Skete of Saint Andrew. The Church of the skete.

The Holy Fathers of the Monastery of Filotheou, 1850 – 1930, Stavronikita, fragment

St Theodosios in bishop’s vestments and mitre, holding a Gospel book, on either side St Filotheos and St Dionysios, holding a cross and a scroll the first and a scroll the second, four undecipherable saints, in monastic habit, the Divine Eye radiating rays of glory.

Saints Symeon and Sabba from Chilandariou, 1873, Stavronikita, fragment
Esfigmenou, 1881. Paulou
Andreou Skete, 1849, Dionysiou, fragment

The first building. In later years the surrounding buildings and the immense church were build.

Saint Andreou and Saint Anthony, 1850 – 1920, Vatopedi, fragment

In the middle the Skete of Andreou and the Mountain.

Syntaxis of Holy Mountain fathers, 1760 – 1860, Dionysiou, fragment
Mara Brankovic gives the Holy Gifts to the monastery of Paulou, 1990 – 2000, Paulou, fragment
Saint Evdokimos Vatopaidinos, 1842, Vatopedi
Vatopedi, 1842, fragment

More icons on the site of the Holy Community of Mount Athos (HCoMA).

Herman Voogd

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2174 – Athos related Portable Icons part 2

I have scanned the Athos Digital Heritage database on Portable Icons that have a direct connection with the Holy Mountain. Here is the second part. First the title, then the year when it was made and finally the owner of the icon.

The syntaxis of the Holy Fathers, 1860 – 1960, Dionysiou, fragment

These are all holy men of Mount Athos. In the top row, in the middle Peter the Athonite with the long beard.

Syntaxis of Mount Athos Fathers, 1750 – 1800, Holy Community of Mount Athos (HCoMA) fragment

As in the one above , the central figure is the Panagia, Maria the mother of God.

Agiou Paulou, 1833, Paulou

With the arsanas on the right and on the left the medieval tower who has recently been renovated.

I.M. Sografou and St. George, 1850 – 1900, Paulou
Saint Silouan the Athonite, 2000 – 2017, Dionysiou

Russian saint who worked at the watermill next to Panteleimonos monastery.

Mount Athos from the north east, 1908, Dionysiou
Panagia, 1950 – 1980, Vatopedi
Saint Dionysios, 1800 – 1950, Dionysiou, fragment

The founder of Dionysiou with a model of the monastery in his hand

Simonos Petras, 1870, Paulou

With a clear vision on the aqueduct because the south part of the monastery was not build yet. Watch the garden pulley.

Athanasios, 1700 – 1800, Pantocratoros, fragment

The Founder of Lavra, recognizable by his forked beard.

Saint Gedeon Karakallinos, 1959, Karakallou

The Karakallou monastery and the Mountain on the right.

Saints Pachomaioi, founders of Karakallou monastery, 1891, Karakallou, fragment

Herman Voogd

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2173 – Athos related Portable Icons

 A new initiative of the The Holy Community of Mount Athos is online, Athos Digital Heritage. A digital repository with 300,000 objects, such as manuscripts, historical documents, photographs, books, and icons. It is a fantastic source for the Orthodox world, websites and blogs. Because of the large quantity of objects we are planning to show small parts of it in our blogposts.

We are not completely sure if it is allowed to use the content in the repository for our website. If The Holy Community of Mount Athos is not comfortable with us using the content in this blog we will, of course, no longer do it and shall delete this post as soon as the HCoMA tells us to do so. We hope it is no problem.

I have searched in the portable icon section for images that are strongly related to Mount Athos itself. First the title, then the year the icon was made and the owner.

Peter the Athonite and Saint Onoufrios, 1895, Xenophontos

Peter the Athonite, one of the founding fathers of Mount Athos with the mountain in the background.

Gennadios Vatopedinos, 1950- 1990, Xenophontos

A Saint of Vatopedi monastery with the bay of Vatopedi in the background. The mountain on the right.

The oldest copy of Axion Esti- 1538 – 1548, Holy community of Mount Athos

Famous icon, the original is in possesion of the of the Protaton church in Karyes.

Elder Paisios, 2010, Dionysiou

Elder Paisios was canonised in 2015. He lived in several monasteries and in a Kellion called Panagouda near Karyes.

Athanasios the Athonite, 1927, Karakallou (fragment)

Athanasios is the founder of Lavra monastery in 963.

Saint George and Xenophontos monastery, 1800 – 1900, Paulou (fragment)
Saint Dionysios, 1750 -1850, Dionysios

Saint Dionysios is the founder of the monastery with its name.

Saint Akakios Kavsokalyvitis, 2000 -2015, Dionysios (fragment)
Choir of Fathers of Mount Athos, 1900 -1950, Xenophontos (fragment)

Hierarchs, hieromonks, monks and erimites with the Panagia and the Mounatin in the middle.

Trip of the Panagia to Mount Athos, 1880 – 1920, Dionysios
Nikoforos Koulitzis, 1873 – 1920, Xenophontos

Nikoforos Koulitzis was abbot of Xenophontos monastery.

Paulou Monastery, with saints George and Paul, 1870 – 1900, Paulou

Paul Xeropotaminos, founder of Xeropotamos monastery, came at the close of his life to the region and became also the founder of Paulou.

Herman Voogd

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2172 – Arte TV: the story of the theft of the Sografou manuscript by Bulgaria

Still from the footage: a secret door in a library

Click here to see the video.

This is the story -in French and German- of the theft of the Bulgarian “founding” manuscript in the ’80-ties and how it returned in 1998 to the Holy Mountain.

the stolen manuscript
Bulgarian letter about the theft

Wim Voogd, 7/10 (thanks to Jean-Michel Sourd of “All Friends of Mount Athos” on Facebook)

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2171 – earthquake on Athos September 27th

Earthquake this morning 27/9 – the monk is looking . The white stripe on this still is a stone falling down.

Today, Sunday 27/9, a powerful earthquake was felt by the monks on the Agion Oros in the early morning, during the service called “agripnía”. The quake took place about 20 kilometers southwest of Athos and measured 5.2 on the Richter scale. Thank God, it seems, everything went well.
Here is a footage of the earthquake on Facebook: (earthquake after approx. 48 seconds): luckily only some debris fell down from the church ceiling.

https://fb.watch/MeL5kFRxr/ (thanks Vasilís).

The orange line on the map shows the earth’s major tectonic plates.
Protaton, Karyes

The area of Mount Athos has given strong earthquakes in 1905 with 7.5 on the Richter scale, as well as in 1982 and 1983, with magnitudes of 7 and 6.8. All of them were at a distance of 25 to 45 km from the epicenter of the current earthquake. Greek seismologists are practically talking about the same tectonic formation and that is why they are cautious. As for the possibility of other faults in the area of Mount Athos to be activated by the vibrations that currently took place the seismologist described it as “completely unlikely, because the earthquake is relatively small and can not affect other areas”. (source)

Wim Voogd, 28 and 29/9

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2170 – Skiing and Snowboarding on Mount Athos

On this website from Frozen Ambrosia I found this footage of seven Greek guys, who skied down the Holy Mountain (filmed on February 17/18 2017).

Skiing from the Top in 2017

This is the Facebook footage of the ski trip (thanks Japetus) and some stills from the ski team at the Metamorphosis chapel on the top of Mount Athos:


Wim Voogd, 23/9

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