Recently I received a book in German, written by the maker of the famous Athos map, Reinhold Zwerger from Austria (1924-2009). In previous posts we paid attention to this Athos-expert (see 378 and 954), who visited Athos in 1956 for the first time, together with his friend Erich Feigl, who later wrote the encyclopedic book “Athos Vorholle zum Paradies“.
I just started reading this book, in which he recalls his memories and which is written like a diary with many short stories. My first impression is that it is one most interesting books about Athos I ever read!
Please pay attention to the stories I will post in the coming winter months. The first story I want to share with you is the following. On page 33 Reinhold describes the problem you can encounter when something quite ordinary is not as it should be: did you ever imagine that crosses on the sole of your trekking shoes might disturb the peacefull Athos environment ?
The story goes that monks would check shoes for “crosses” and in some cases they would take their pocket knive and cut away the crosses under your shoe! Even when you were sleeping, monks (or Greek tourists?) would take your mountain shoes at night and cut all the cross-shaped profiles from under the sole, returning your wrecked shoes outside your door. It is not fiction, Reinhold saw it happen in a guesthouse!
So beware next time you visit Mount Athos and check your shoes for “crosses” before you go!
Another big issue can be crossing your legs in church (or even sometimes outside church!): Never ever do cross your legs while attending church service, because it is considered to be an offence to the symbol of the Holy Cross and you will be corrected immediately. See a discussion about this subject on the Monachos forum.
Crossing one’s legs outside Filotheou’s monastery (1989)
The book from Zwerger is available through this website: www.wege-am-athos.at . I can already recommend it to you!