Update 8 – 08/05/2022: our Athos friend Vasilis visited Athos during Easter. From his Facebookpage we learn that although in Greece most corona measures have been abolished, a quick Covid test still is mandatory before entering the Pilgrims Bureau (Grafio) in Ouranopolis and collect your Diamonitirion. New is is that a picture is taken from your ID-card or passport by the Greek police. This is introduced for different reasons, for example to combat crime (looting) and money laundering, according to this source Romfea.gr. A least 70 extra uniformed and secret police are based in Ouranopolis to supervise the 20,000 visitors. It is also meant engage in other suspicious actions, especially in the midst of the ongoing crisis in Greece and the West in general and the relation with Russia. Last week the following monasteries were still closed fror pilgrims: Lavra, Iviron, Simonos Petras, Grigoriou, Dionysiou, and Xiropotamou. In Vatopedi they asked the visiting pilgrims to do an extra Covid-test, before entering the monastery (thanks Vasilis for sharing this information). In the Pilgrims Office and on the boat to Dafni you will still have to use a face mask.
Update 7 – 22/02/2022: according to an article in Orthodox Times and the political commander of Mount Athos Athanasios Martinos, it is estimated that 30 to 35 Athos monks lost their lives due to the Covid virus. According to Martinos, “the holy monasteries of Mount Athos are safe for pilgrims with the exception of two or three monasteries. The anti-vaxxers are found mainly in the monasteries of Filotheou, Xiropotamou, Konstamonitou and the settlements around Karakallou. A similar situation prevails in the monasteries of Panteleimon, Chilandari, and Zografou, where monks from Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria are settled”.
Information from Athosweblog: Monks in most of the Greek Athos monasteries have been vaccinated. What they demand from the pilgrims to go there varies from monastery to monastery. At some of them ask for the corona-App and the proof of an vaccination or test, just as the rest in Greece does in public places. But it is said that in Esfigmenou monastery things go – as useally – different: here monks refuse pilgrims to enter if you are vaccinated!
Update 6 – 26/01/2022: according to this source www.voria.gr/ six monks of the monastery of Filotheou have lost their lives from coronavirus complications, while almost the entire fraternity is unvaccinated. The monastery is in quarantine and it still has dozens of active cases of Corona. Today, the monk Petros, who had recently been seriously ill and was being treated at a hospital in Thessaloniki, passed away, while early in the morning a speedboat picked up another monk, who needed treatment at the hospital. Also today monk Alypios, 61 years old, from Nea Skiti is defeated by the coronavirus and a Serbian monk from the monastery of Chilandariou.
Update 5 – 19/01/2022: according to abbot Batholomew (18/1) from Esfigmenou -in Karyes- “Mount Athos counts many victims of the coronavirus in proportion to its population. Despide the fact 40 monks lost their lives from Covid-19, there are still Covid deniers on Athos [..]. With their rhetoric call on the faithfull not to be vaccinated they responsible for many deaths”. – soucre: Orthodox Times
Update 4 – 01/12/2021: The Government’s decision on the compulsory vaccine for over 60 years was accepted with mixed feelings on Mount Athos […]. Yesterday (30/11) in Karyes , in the Holy Temple of Protatos, the vigil of Agios Kosmas the First was performed, with draconian measures against the pandemic, as no high priest or a significant number of pilgrims participated in the festival, while the established festive table did not take place at the end. More than 25 monks have died from the coronavirus on Mount Athos to date. Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 10 monks have died in convents, half of them in the occupied Esfigmenou Monastery and four more in another monasteries. At least two monks are still in critical condition outside Mount Athos, while several were those, who were in serious danger, most notably the cases of Elder Anthimos of the Holy Monastery of Agios Pavlou and Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi. The fact that the last two Elders survived the pandemic is considered a miracle. It is worth noting that all the monks who died, as well as all those who were or are in danger, were or are not vaccinated (source: vimaorthodoxias.gr).
Update 3 – 16/11/2021: Abbot Bartholomew from the Esfigmenou monastery in Karyes said the following on the radio on November 12th: “We have issues with the fraudulent certificates that are trying to enter Mount Athos and they do not care if these people are positive or if they will transmit the virus. Many, mainly from Romania, have been found with fraudulent certificates or putting antiseptic on their noses and so that they test negative after the rapid test, which is a requirement before entering Mount Athos. That means they are more disciplined because they are from another country.” (source Orthodoxtimes.com).
Update 2 – 4/11/2021: Orthodoxtimes.com says on 3/11 that Mount Athos is plunged into an unprecedented health crisis. There are at least 50 COVID infections, with some raising the number to 70! In just one day last Saturday, 8 cases were recorded. Among the last victims of the coronavirus is the monk Dionysios from the cell of Kartsonai in the skete of Saint Anne. Monk Panteleimon from Saint Anne was intubated, while a few days ago Fr. Prodromos from Karyes and one of his subordinates had to be intubated. According to Mount Athos, the whole situation is aggravated by Romanian pilgrims who have been reaching Mount Athos in large numbers lately and have devised various ways to be able to pass the rapid tests they are forced to undergo upon entering the monastic state (source: orthodoxtimes.com).
Update 1 – 28/10/2021: An increase in coronavirus cases has been observed on Mount Athos in recent days and several monks are being treated in hospitals in northern Greece. Today the proposal to close Mount Athos and forbid the access of pilgrims will be on the table at the Holy Epistatia. The monasteries of Pantokratoros, Xenofontos, Vatopedi and the skiti of the Profitou Elias are already closed. In Vatopedi, there are even 12 cases of coronavirus among monks who are isolated.
At least three monks from monasteries and skitis are being treated in hospitals in Thessaloniki. One of them, a 50-year-old from Agia Anna, is intubated and his condition is characterized by doctors as particularly critical.
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly on Mount Athos due to the coenobitic lifestyle of the monks, who all eat together and live in shared accommodation. In many cases, they do not seek medical attention in a timely manner and refuse to be hospitalized. Due to the inaccessibility of the area and the distance between the monasteries, it is difficult to determine the exact number of cases.
Some monasteries are taking a hard line on the issue of health protocols, while others are taking no action. Pilgrims stated that they were not allowed to enter a monastery because they were wearing a mask. The monks told them that they could wear the masks “at the carnival of Patras, but not on Mount Athos”. In another monastery, they told the pilgrims that if they do not take off the mask, they would not receive tsipouro and sweets.
In the Athonite State there is great concern about the course of business and a possible travel ban, also in connection with the arrival of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeou on November 26-28.
credits: Makedonia 25/10/2021
On September 14th skai.gr already reported that 1000 monks had been infected by the corona virus and eight had died. Only 20% of the monks had been vaccinated. Note: this news has not been confirmed by others sources.
Wim Voogd, 19/01/2022