The largescale renovations of the Russian settlements on the Holy Mountain were announced a couple of years ago, knowing that in 2016 the special celebrations of Russians 1000 years on Athos would take place. Not only the main monastery Roussikon welcomed a totall makeover of almost every building, but also the smaller Russian cells, like Bogoroditsa (or Xylourgou) and Paleo Monastiro, ánd recently the Thebaís ruins, got their share of the large sums of money that the Russians invested in their herritage on the Holy Mountain.
As I showed in my last post 1946 the renovations in Paleo Monastiro were almost too perfect, nothing of the old atmosphere, that used to be here in 2009, remained. But anyway, let me continue my story, because I told you about a voice I heard on the roof of Paleo Monastiro. This is what happened when all my fellow pilgrims arrived in the courtyard. When we sat down under the large trees on the benches the monk came down from the roof to welcome us. One of the problems when visiting a Russian or Unkraine cell on the Holy Mountain is that many monks do not speak any English. And because we do not speak Russian and hardly a few words Greek, communicating is slightly difficult. So you can imagine my surprize when our fellow pilgrim Tadeusz, our Dutch friend who visited Athos for the first time, started talking in the Russian language with our host! OK, I knew that his mother is originally from Poland and that he spoke Polish to her, but I did not realize that this ment that he could speak and understand Russian too!
And because of this the monk lightened up and started to be more friendly immediately. We soon understood that the monk was not Russian, but he came from the Unkraine and his name was Bogdan. Bogdan’s badge: 1000 years Russians on Athos
He gave us a drink and some sweets, while we could rest and we enjoyed the warm welcome. When I asked to show us the large church he immediately went in to find the key and asked us to follow him.The entrance to the church already gave us a preview of what expect inside (agian: this was the situation in 2009). Bogdan opens the doorIt was totally overwhelming: the entire interior of the church was not white anymore but completely covered by exclusive paintings of (Russian) saints and Orthodox persons and biblical scenes!The ceilingThe entrance door and above this door a very large and impressive painting of IM Panteleimonos and the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves), here in three pictures above. The monk on the left side is Theodosius of Kiev (thanks Alex, see comment below).The paintings direct to the right after entering the churchThe large columns in the middle of the church: also decoratedThe dome with Christ Pantocratorthe photo’s above: the two transcepts and nave of the churchThe Eastern transceptPart of the iconostasisthe iconostasis The right, middle and left part of the iconostasisDetail of the iconostasisAn icon of the dayThe entrance door and the balconiesDetail with a painting from the Russian saint St. Seraphim of Saro (thanks Alex)Above the entrance doorBogdan explaining the paintingsPainting of the monastery Panteleimonos and the PanaghiaBogdan closing the church: what an extraordinary visit and many thanks to our host!
Wim Voogd, 27/10
PS. The picture below is from the internet (isihazm.ru/?id=369). Find the differences!
“a church in Russia” – it’s a Kiev Pechersk Lavra ( Kiev Monastery of the Caves ). The monk in the center of the painting is Anthony of Kiev ( you must have seen his cave above Esphigmenou Monastery ). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_of_Kiev
The monk on his left side is Theodosius of Kiev. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_of_Kiev
“Holy Man in a forest” is a Russian saint St. Seraphim of Sarov.