2291 – The festivities of Lavra’s 1000 years existence. Part 2

The year is 963. A thousand and sixty years ago. The foundation of the first monastery on Athos, the Great Lavra. The thousand-year anniversary was of course celebrated in detail at the time. As someone said to me, the life of the monks consists of fasting and feasting. The thousand-year anniversary was the occasion for a number of celebrations. In Karyes, with the dignitaries, but also in Lavra itself, where it all started, there was a celebration on July 19, 1963.

Ger and Jan came walking from Iviron that day. They had taken the coastal route. Mainly dirt roads and monopati. It’s a long walk. They were not aware of the festival that would be celebrated there. They found Lavra packed. There were no bunks left in the guesthouses. Many people came to this special anniversary. The Greek Prime Minister, then Konstantinos Karamanlis, had his own guesthouse in Lavra, consisting of a room with a bathroom and a shower. The Dutch young men for whom there was no room in the dormitories were given those rooms. But, do you sleep when there’s a party all night? The service started at 4:00 PM and lasted till breakfast. The young men found it a fantastic experience to be able to experience such an important moment in the history of Athos. They had met two students from Athens who spoke good English, which made the conversations easier.

The Abbot of Lavra with other monks and pilgrims

After vespers there was food with orange wine in the refectory (trapeza).

Pilgrims feasting in the Trapeza of Lavra during the thousand-year anniversary celebration
An older monk, a policeman and some pilgrims. Probably shot at the festivities for the 1000 years’ jubilee

The next day they went with the two Athenians by boat to Paulou Monastery, on the other side of the holy mountain. The skipper initially wanted 40 drachmas per person for the trip, but the Athenians managed to reduce the price to 20 drachmas per person through negotiation. The small boat could fit about 7 people.

The skipper with one of the Greek friends
View of Kavsokalivia in 1963
The monk who went to Kavsokalivia

A monk got off in Kavslokalivia.

The tour around the southern end of the peninsula took them past the hermitages located on the rocks in Karoulia and Katounakia.

The hermit cells of Karoulia
The Greek friends from Athens and the skipper on the way to Paulou. Ger and Jan spent their fourth Athos night there

Text: Bas Kamps

Photos: Ger Dommerholt

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