2086 – Agiou Paulou monastery: the pavilion of Princess Mara

Agiou Paulou

One of the more physical proofs that there has been a woman on Athos is the Pavilion of Princess Mara, born in 1416 and a daughter of a Serbian monarch Đurađ (George) Branković . She married Ottoman Sultan Murad II for political reasons. She is also the mother of the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmed II. Mara kept, despite her marriage, true to her Christian faith. She donated money and dependencies to the monastery and later, after Constantinople fell, she bestowed the gifts of the Three Magi upon the monastery: a holy relic, an Ottoman loot from the fall of Constantinople. 

The kalderimi from the monastery to the pavilion
The Princess Mara pavilion (at the red arrow)

Legend has it that Mara tried to present the gifts to the monastery herself, but she was stopped on the spot where the pavilion is by a voice from heaven, telling her that a Queen already stays on Mount Athos, the Virgin Mother. This happened after the fall of Constantinople on May 28th 1453.

the front of Mara pavilion
With two dates on the arch: 1470 and 1928

The year 1470 must be the moment when Mara presented the gifts of the Magi, I presume. The date 1928 is probably the year that the small pavilion is build, also named “Kyra Mara”. I do not know why a clock, carved in stone, appears here. The large hand of the clock points between 8 and 9, the small hand at the 12: what could be the reason?

This painting is inside the pavilion: Princess Mara presenting the three gifts to the monks: “no place for secular rulers”.

This long text in Greek is found under the painting
The door to the chapel with marble decorations above it (with a large crack in it!).

Two icons, the other half of the painting and some objects inside the pavilion.

The chapel seen from its sideway.

Wim Voogd, 9-12-2019

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2 Responses to 2086 – Agiou Paulou monastery: the pavilion of Princess Mara

  1. Japetus says:

    A brief translation of the inscription:

    When king Arcadius has learned that in Jerusalem the miracle working gifts from the Magi were held, donated by Virgin Mary herself, he sent a delegation to bring these to Constantinople.
    Queen Mara was the wife of sultan Murad and daughter of king George of Serbia. Her son was Mehmet the Conqueror who after the fall of Constantinople let her perform her christian duties without any obstacles, involving the relishing of the gifts.
    When she decided to pass the rest of her life as a nun near Serres, she took the gifts with her. When her ship was near mount Athos, she disembarked at the port of St.Paul monastery ‘which she very well knew’ (sic) bringing the gifts with her.
    When the fathers saw her, they came down to meet her. As she was also heading towards the monastery and while passing near an olive tree, she heard a voice from above saying: ‘Don’t proceed any further, Mara’.Startled, she stood next to the olivetree, unpacked the gifts and prayed. She donated the gifts to the fathers and left. At this same spot, this chapel was built…..

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