About 1928: Robert Byron, author of The Station, Athos: Treasures and Men made this picture in Xiropotamou in september during the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.On september 27th 2013 during the same festivities we visited Xiropotamou. Although it seems quiet in the courtyard there is no seat left in the church where the ceremony lasted the whole night. I didn’t know that the church on this day was not allowed for non-Orthodox so I went in and had a quick look.
All seats were occupied and many Greek pilgrims were standing inside the Katholikon. Outside the church you could hear the ceremony. A few monks stood or sat near the church walls.Another picture by Robert Byron of the viale during the feast. He wrote on page 233 of The Station: ” The gate was still open and the porter expectant. All around, both in the courtyard and outside, reclined in the half-light every variety of Levantine manhood, labourers, guards, policemen, tramps, hermits, boys and old men, assembled to celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross, a ceremony not to be confused with the Invention, but supposed to have originated with the dedication of the churches built by Constantine in Jerusalem to commemorate the latter event. Here at Xerapotamou is the largest piece of the Cross on Athos, 13 inches long. Hence the special significance which the occasion assumes”.The entrance to the church with the wooden corridor to the Refectory. A friendly man invited us for the lunch, but the ceremony was not over yet. So we thanked him and got on our way to Panteleimonos to catch the boat back to Ouranoupoli.