726 – The story of Esfigmenou by Tom Whipple


The tale of the Esphigmenou monks is one that should exist only in the pages of a Dan Brown thriller. Divided from the Orthodox establishment by a theological disagreement, and living in an isolated monastic peninsula, they are fighting a lone battle for the soul of their religion. Esphigmenou is a community under siege. Its lands have been seized, its bank accounts frozen, and it has severed all contact with its 19 brother monasteries throughout Mount Athos, the obscure, semi-autonomous monks’ republic of northern Greece. In that time, the monks have faced warships, marines, the police and the coastguard, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with rival monks, while at night they take part in stealthy sorties into the surrounding forest and in a speedboat that smuggles in essential goods. All of this to beat a blockade imposed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of their own church.

This is a fragment of an article in The Times on Line about the isolate and rather hopeless position of the Esfigmenou monastery.
Between us, a thick booklet shows pictures of the Patriarch, Bartholomew, embracing the Pope and other Catholic leaders. Its caption Dimitrius translates with a slightly embarrassed smile. It reads: The kiss of Judas.


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2 Responses to 726 – The story of Esfigmenou by Tom Whipple

  1. Dimitris says:

    Petrovouni is the tip of the pointy peninsula opposite Nea Roda & Ierissos. Just next to the Mount Athos border.

  2. Wim says:

    Recent picture added 13/11 !

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