Madingley conference, 20â€“22 February 2009
Over the weekend of 20â€“22 February 2009 the Friends of Mount Athos will hold their fourth residential conference at Madingley Hall near Cambridge. The theme this time is â€˜Mount Athos: Microcosm of the Christian Eastâ€™ which enables us to focus on the variety of traditions that have been (and still are) represented among the monastic communities of the Holy Mountain. Athos has always been the spiritual centre for all the Orthodox Churches and, despite recent threats to this paradigm, the Holy Community realizes that the very heart and strength of Athonite monasticism is its ecumenical profile.
Where did the first monks come from? To what extent was/is Athos a Byzantine phenomenon? Why did Athos so quickly develop an ecumenical, supranational profile? What did these non-Greek traditions being with them and what was their impact on the life of the Athonites? If it was a two-way process, what effect did Athos have on the lands from which the monks came? Why have some traditions flourished and others not? What are the threats to their survival today? And what is the future for pan-Orthodoxy on Athos? These are some of the questions that our conference will try to answer.
Our speakers, all of them specialists in their field but practised at addressing a non-specialist audence, will deliver a well-balanced series of eight talks which are intended a provoke discussion as well as providing illumination.
Dr Rosemary Morris taught for many years at the University of Manchester and is now Visiting Fellow at the University of York. She is the author of many articles on Byzantine social and ecclesiastical history and her book, Monks and Laymen in Byzantium, 843â€“1118 (Cambridge, 1995), was awarded a Runciman Prize. She will speak about the first monks on Athos and what the Athonite archives tell us about them under the title â€˜Athonite evidence for the non-Greek monks on the Holy Mountain, 850â€“1045â€™.
Dame Averil Cameron is Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History at Oxford and Warden of Keble College. Her publications include Changing Cultures in Early Byzantium (1996) and her latest book, The Byzantines (Oxford, 2006), was awarded the 2007 Criticos Prize. Her topic is the Byzantine character of the Holy Mountain.
Dr Nicholas Fennell has taught Russian and French at Winchester College since 1975. He is the author of The Russians on Athos (Bern, 2001) and of numerous articles about Russian Athonite history and literature. He will speak about the Russian tradition on the Holy Mountain.
Dr Tamara Grdzelidze works in the Faith and Order Department of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. She is preparing an English translation of two eleventh-century Georgian hagiographical texts from Iviron for which she was awarded a publication grant of Â£1000 by the Friends in 2004. Her topic is the Georgian tradition on Mount Athos and its manifestation in the Iviron Monastery.
Dr Vladeta Jankovic, formerly Serbian Ambassador in London, is currently Serbian Ambassador to the Holy See as well as being a professor of classics at the University of Belgrade. He has an unparalleled knowledge of the Chilandar Monastery on Athos and he will speak about the Serbian tradition on the Holy Mountain.
Fr Constantin Coman is Professor of Theology in the University of Bucharest. Since Byzantine times Romanians (and their forebears, the Moldavians and Wallachians) have made enormous contributions to Athos, both material and spiritual; they form the largest ethnic minority on the Mountain today; and yet they have never had a monastery to call their own. Fr Constantin will speak about the Romanians on Athos.
Archimandrite Ephrem Lash is an Englishman who was for many years a monk of the monastery of Dochiariou on Mount Athos. Drawing on his own experience, he will speak about life on Athos for a monk from the West.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware is President of the Friends and a monk of the monastery of St John the Theologian, Patmos. From 1966 to 2001 he was Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, and Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies. An outspoken critic of recent attempts to Hellenize the Holy Mountain, Bishop Kallistos is a stalwart defender of its pan-Orthodox traditions. Text by Graham Speake.
If you want to visit this conference organised by the Friends of Mount Athos do it here.