553 – A trip to Athos (day 3 nr 6)

As mentioned in the last post (549), we finally had the magnificent view of Skiti Profitou Eliou.
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Along a beautifull road we continued walking to the Skiti:
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While passing the gardens we saw Pantocratoros lying down at the coastline:
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At arriving through the gate we were enthusiastic welcomed by (the Greek) brethren Filimon, who spoke fluently English. We were offered the usual glass of raki, delicious fresh water from the well and nice sweetened apricot, walnuts and raisins.
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The Skiti looked very well kept and renovated. Filimon told us the whole story about the Skiti and how the last remaining two Russians, who just as the monks in Esfigmenou, did not want to say prayers for the Patriarch Bartholomevs in Constantinople and how they only accepted an Orthodox leader in New York (?). He told how the Skiti 15 years ago was taken over by 10 Greek monks. What happened to the old Russian monks he did not say.
The issue about this Skiti (should it be Greek or Russian?) is a hot item on Mount Athos and there is lot to say or discuss. If you want to read about this subject and be well informed, read the book The Russians on Athos by Nicholas Fennell.

Brethren Filimon was in very good mood and he made jokes all the time. He started with giving his own interpretation of our Dutch names: Wim and Jitze were soon changed in William and Jeltsin, following with the words: there is so much misery in this world, thats why people have to laugh as much as possible! Putting his arms around our shoulders he showed us around in church.
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In his youth Filimon had lived in London for some time and even became a punkrocker ! But now he lived on Athos for already 20 years and breathed the fresh air of The Holy Mountain. He seemed totally happy. In the winter he painted icons and during summer he took care of the pilgrims. The was acquainted with the “Pagoumenou”- brothers, the ones who painted my Agois Nicolaos icon see nr. 31 and who were living in the USA at this time and became famous icon-painters. Their icons should be valuable, so he said………….. An icon painted by Filimon would cost you about EUR 1.000,00.
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The church is beautiful and can have a maximum of 2000 visitors. He also proudly told that the guesthouses were restored completely and it can host 1000 pilgrims ! Unfortunately the abbot did not allow non-orthodox visitors to stay overnight.
The Skiti was founded some 100 years ago with money from Odessa. In the church you can see a wonder-doing icon of the Holy Virgin, presented by a Russian general serving under the Tsars.
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The icons are according to Filimon belonging to the Cretan school of painting. Most of the relics in the church were bought.
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Filimon showed us how the feet of the painted figures turned with spectator, if you changed position, just as often can be seen on old Dutch paintings. He made a remark that he would be very greatfull if we could send him a book with paintings of Rembrandt, the Dutch icon-painter as he called him (again a joke from Filimon, who kept on being in a good mood !).
He – by the way – had some bad experiences with pictures taken of his face, because his sister in Athens saw his face once in a Sony (!) advertisement and thats why he did not allow his picture taken, which I can understand.
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An iconostasis with 2000 kg of gold !
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Courtyard Skiti Prof. Eliou
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outside the Skiti
In his shop we bought some small things, for example the home-made raki of the Skiti (it tastes better if you drink it “in situ”, here in Holland I would not recommend it).
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For contact with the Skiti write to:
Holy Skete of Prof. Elias
P.O. Box 68
63086 Karies
Mt. Athos

Wim, 3 sept. 08

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2 Responses to 553 – A trip to Athos (day 3 nr 6)

  1. moinillon says:

    Pour ce qui concerne les derniers moines russes du skite du Prophète-Élie qui était alors sous la juridiction de l’Église orthodoxe russe hors frontières (réunie au patriarcat de Moscou en 2007), l’higoumène — l’archimandrite Séraphim — se trouve à Jérusalem au couvent russe du Mont des Oliviers ; le père Joannikij (devenu schihiéromoine Ioann) est au monastère grec Saints-Cyprien-et-Justine à Fili ; le moine Benjamin se trouve au monastère russe de Jordanville (USA) ; le P. Nicolas est marié et vit maintenant en Russie.

  2. Wim says:

    Thanks Moinillon for filling us in about the whereabouts of these Russian monks who had to leave there habitat.
    Greetings, Wim

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