1947 – the ‘new’ Paleo Monastiro

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!news_file_1014

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1946 – the hike from Roussikon to Paleo Monastiro

On our first day of our 2017 pilgrimage to Athos we hiked from Roussikon to Paleo Monastiro, the old Roussikon. It is a 5,5 km hike over a dirt road, starting at sea level and ending at 455 meters. IMG_7782[5681] (2)On the new map of Foma made by Peter Howorth it looks as if a monopati path (the red dots next to the black ones- a riverbed) goes up just behind Panteleimonos monastery: although we tried our best to find it, we could not detect a path leading to Paleo Monastiro.This place must be the spot where a path would start, just behind the large newly renovated building of Roussikon: we only found rocks and shrubs …Behind Roussikon: an old well dating from 1896The road to Paleo Monastiro: a dirt road leads to the rightLooking back at RoussikonThe remnants of renovation activitiesand on the other side of the road: old tires and tanksAntique radiators are piled up along the roadsideNear the Silouan mill: a new construction for storage. In the hills behind it skiti Xenofontos showes up.The road going left towards skiti XenofontosThe landscape along the road Skiti Xenofontos, recently inhabited again, among others by father Nikon, who used to live in Nea Skiti until 2016.Arriving at Paleo Monastiro. Not knowing what to find after the large scale renovations in 2016, when the Russians celebrated their 1000-years on Athos, we continued our way to entrance.To our surprize the entrance, a new iron gate, was closed!We tried to find a way to get inside and walked around the newly renovated outher walls on the South sideAfter passing a fence we could see the bridge which leads to the backdoor of the complex.  Luckily here the door was open!And this is what we saw: a clean courtyard, with a green lawn. In no way the new situation could be compaired with what we saw in 2009!The new garden in the coutyard, with green grass neatly mowed. It looks like a golf course!one of the few original remnants of the old situation: a grave with three old trees.The old wall is also still in its original stateThe big church with its side entrance: have look here how things were back in 2009.Again: the green lawnThe path leading to the second church

When I arrived at the courtyard I heared a monk talking, and at first I could not find out where his voice was coming from. When I looked up to the roof I saw him sitting high above me. He talked in what looked Russian to me, but when my fellow pilgrimes arrived, he decided to come down to welcome us. Next time I will tell you what happened then.

Wim Voogd, 20/10

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1945 – Maroudá, deepening insights.

A few more pictures to give you a more detailed impression of the kellion of Maroudá, which belongs to Chilandariou. The official title of the place is: “Holy Cell of the Nativity of the Mother of God”.2852 MaroudaA nicely decorated water tap with a king fisher as a tap. With colourful flowery tiles. There are many interesting artistic expressions to be found in Maroudá. As if a more creative, individual spirit reigns here. The spirit of Father Makarios. “With real faith you have freedom. You have love.” Is one of his known quotes. Lucas Kane studied the insights of the abbot by staying there two months. His study was published in the Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography (2016, 2). It is a peculiar study. To quote him: “Sensuality becomes a lived hierophany – a manifestation of the sacred.” He describes the relation to Pavlos, his disciple as: “Two individual I’s become one Us”, a blending of individual identity, perceptions, bodies, sensitivities. Some of his elaborations might raise a eyebrow, for instance: “Looking back again to Makarios’ definition of religion, it is erotic love that guides God’s relationship to human, and in turn informs how humanity might love God; the “beloved becomes the lover as a result of being loved”.”2851 MaroudaIn the mornings you can hear wood workshop sounds coming out of this building.2858 dishes in MaroudaA very homely picture. In a small place like this, you are invited to give a helping hand. We were happy to do the dishes after dinner.2862 skulls in MaroudaIn the centre of the complex at the rear end of the church is a little ossuary, which is easy to miss. It is the photographer’s shadow that makes the skulls and bones visible in the reflection of the glass.2868 Herman and dog MaroudaA dog leads pilgrim Herman through the misty morning. An enormous chimney is placed in the centre.2873 MaroudaAnother homely picture. On the left the very end of the Alexander frieze, an impressive painted wall on which important events from the life of Alexander the Great are depicted. Painted by a frequent visitor from Volos. It is quite rare to see a fresco with a pre-Christian theme on Athos. It is made only recently, it was painted in 2015. An attractive mermaid holds a ship. A soccer ball could be observed as a surprise but perhaps not rarer than a rain coat or an umbrella.2876 MaroudaA last overview of Maroudá on our way to walk to skiti Andreou, just downhill from here.

I checked in my small Athos library, if something was written about Maroudá, e.g. in Graham Speake’s or Victoria Della Dora’s book but in both classics is not even mentioned. Recently a Dutch pilgrim, Wouter van der Toorn, wrote a few blogs about Maroudá. Grazing the internet I found an interesting speech by Father Makarios from 2014. It can be found heremarouda, baloukosTo finish this photo blog I like to show a nice watercolor of Maroudá by Christos Baloukos, also found on the internet. He has painted a lot on Athos and most of his work is for sale.

Bas Kamps

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1944 – Maroudá, crosses and chants

The special and intimate place called Maroudá is described on this website many times and extensively by Wim (see the following posts: 1789, 1801, 1802, 1805 and 1809).

It was our first encounter there. We were welcomed by some pilgrims who shared coffee and sweets with us in the kitchen.

I like to show some impressions of the kellion. In retrospect I was surprised that I concentrated on taking pictures of holy crosses.2829 maroudaInside the enclosed complex is a small construction to carry the bells. Not really a bell tower. But all is on a small and nice scale in Maroudá. The building is topped off by a red cross.2835 sk andreouSteeply looking down at Skiti Andreou from the terrace. A complex of crosses in crosses; I count six of them. The same balcony where in 2013 a former Taliban warrior was baptised and re-named “Alexander”.DSC_2870.b.webThe next morning started quite foggy, which gave another impression of the buildings.marouda crossA red and a white cross looking at the Holy Mountain a bit vague in the far distance.Romanos of Marouda 2017On the terrace we met a novice, called Romanos, who studies the Byzantine chants intensely. He brought his songbook and explained how the very complex musical notation worked, or he tried to explain, it was rather complicated. To illustrate the notation he sang for us. Pilgrim Jacques made, to his approval, a short impression of his singing.

Romanos is a very nice and open person who really wanted to communicate with us. Somewhat later during the service in the church, in the midst of the complex, we could hear and see him sing and interact with a monk in a recital.DSC_2833.b.web.The sun, the moon and the three fishes on the outside wall of Maroudá. ( request by F. John Herbert )

Bas Kamps

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1943 – Prince Charles on Athos?

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Greece this summer. Their plane landed on Corfu July 26 th. After a stay in the Rothschild’ villa on the island of Corfu, they left on board of a luxury yacht.The luxurious yacht is seen anchored off  Sithonia and Athos.

Reportedly Prince Charles visited churches and monasteries in Mount Athos, while the Duchess of Cornwall stayed on board. When Charles returned from his visit to the holy monasteries, the couple made daily excursions, walked though picturesque villages and just enjoy Greek cuisine right next to the sea. Local media reported that Charles and Camilla visited the only inhabited island of Chalkidiki, Amouliani. After dinner at one of the restaurants in the area of Megali Ammos, they enjoyed a drink at a local bar.Charles’ boat at Amouliani?

The visit of Prince Charles to Athos is not confirmed by more reports in the press or by pictures, so  I cannot be sure if the information is correct.

Wim, 24/9

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1942 – Kuwaiti scientists discover Arabic manuscripts in Athos

A Kuwait University team has discovered rare manuscripts written in Arabic at Mount Athos. The scientific mission, which included history Professors Dr Abdulhadi Al Ajmi and Dr Mohammad Al Marzouqi, visited Athos monasteries and libraries.The Kuwaiti team visiting father Filemon from Profiti EliouDr Abdulhadi Al Ajmi in a Athos library. It was not mentioned in which monastery the discoveries were made.The news was first published on this website on September 16 2017 and also here (thanks to our reader Gerald Brisch who shared this news with us in a comment). Source: KUNA.

Wim, 20-9

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1941 – Panteleimonos monastery 2017

Panteleimonos aerial: from our flight over Athos the 6th of May 2017

Arriving at the monastery 

The clock tower on the left, the blue East wing in the middle and the katholicon on the right

Above the palmtree: the double church on the top floor

Me standing on one of the balconies of the East wing, making the picture below (the five photo’s above made by mr. Jitze Bakker):This is the same spot in 1980, during my first visit to Athos 37 years ago, when only 8 elderly monks remained at the monastery.

The belfry of Roussikon

View to the NorthView to the West/not Kassandra but Sitonia, thanks Bertinos, I always mix them up!
In the right corner of the blue building stairs go up to the double church. I took my chance to see if they were open and went up.But first I passed this marble fountain with a large icon of the PanaghiaThe stairs that lead to the first floor

A door on the first floor, with three paintings at its side and one – small – above it.Agios Dimitria or Dimitrios A scene from the live of Agios Dimitrios (?)a detail of the text from the painting above, where I can read Dimitria (in Russian)?Agios Dimitrios being wounded with spears by soldiersThe painting above the door, the child Jesus with his MotherThe door on the second floor, with two large paintingsA St. Sergii of Radonezh (thanks Bertinos)Apostles Petros and Joannis with the Panaghia (standing on clouds)A mosaic of Agios PanteleimonosOn my way down I first passed this little building (chandlery)and secondly this chapel (dedicated to  St. Mitrofan (Gr: Μητροφάνης) of Voronezh- thanks Bertinos)It was time to move on, because we had a long way to go to the other side of the peninsula, the cell of Maroudá. But before we left we passed this large churches, that lie a little higher up the hillAll buildings of the monastery are excellent state now, also this general storage. In 2009 it looked very diffrent, as you see on the picture below:From here we tried to find a path that should bring us directly to the Paleomonastir, but we were unable to find it, although some maps indicated that there would be a monopati behind Panteleimonos. So we took the long way over a dirt road, passing the Silouan mill and skiti Xenofontos, to be seen on the other side of the valley.

Next time more about our new discoveries in Paleomonastir.

Wim Voogd, 17/9

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