On August 19th the Dutch magazine KATHOLIEK NIEUWSBLAD published this article “Getuigen van de stilte / Een intieme blik op een heilige berg” about the documentary “Adam where are you?”. You can buy the complete magazine here. For an English version go here. Furthermore the screenings of the film continue in September 2022 in these places:
1. September 6th: Nieuwkuijk
2. September 10th: Den Haag Filmhuis
3. September 11th: Oostende, Belgium, Kinepolis Oostende, tickets online
4. September 11th and 18th: De Balie Amsterdam
5. September 25th: Middelburg Cinema
6. October 8th: 14.30 h. Slieker film Leeuwarden
7. October 14th, 19.30 h: Franciscus en Clarakerk Raamstraat 78 2613 SE Delft
Wim Voogd, September 1st (thanks to Katia Novikova)
I started my story of a visit to Xiropotamou in 2019 February this year, with an photo essay of the outside walls and drone footage (post 2234). In the next post – part 2 – I payed attention to the courtyard and the strange figure – a jaquemart – that once stood in the bell-tower.
To end this photo-essay I will take a closer look at the phiale and the exo-narthex of the Katholicon.
This blog closes down the photo survay about the “forgotten” monastery of Athos, Xiropotamou. I discribe it as a ‘forgotten’ monastery because most pilgrims pass it on their way to Karyes of Dafni without a visit, its architecture is not the most impressive I have seen on the Holy Mountain and its reputation is that it is not very hospitable, especially for non-orthodox pilgrims, but even orthodox pilgrims complained about it. But anyway, is was worth a visit and it reveiled some interesting facts about the existance of jaquemarts on the Holy Mountain.
Saturday moring, the 6th of August, a fire broke out in the olive orchard near Arsanas Konstamonitou / the cell of Agiou Pantes, where persumeably somebody wanted to burn some branches. The latest news of today is that the fire in under control due to hard work of monks and fireman, who extinguished the fire. For more information look here (Vimas Orthodoxias in Greek).
Yesterday my Athos friends and I went to see the Athos film in Amsterdam/De Balie. The film was introduced by the producer father Alexander Plysko from Kiev.
The film lasts 80 minutes and is shot in 4 years during 2015-2019 in the monastery Doucheiariou in Athos. The cameraman is Alexander Zaporoschenko. It is an account of the life in a monastery, in all its aspects. It shows the daily life in a monastery and the thoughts and doubt of the old abbot, Hegoumen Grigorios, who suffered from diabetes and passed away in 2018.
Abbot Grigorios had an open and liberal mind and allowed his monks things that you usually don’t see on Mount Athos. A special scene in the movie is a monk playing music from Bach on a piano. Father Alexander explained after showing the film that this monk learned to play classical music on piano before he went to Athos. Because he missed playing music (which is absolutely forbidden on Athos!), the abbot bought a piano and placed it somewhere outside the monastery in one of the workplaces, where could play the instrument.
There is also a lovely scene of a monk who takes care of the (many!) cats. The monk says ” that all his cats protect the monastery against rats and snakes”. He is the only monk who spoke English, the rest of the monks -ofcourse- speak Greek.
Although Ukrainian, father Alexander spend his time in the Greek speaking monastery, because he wanted to improve his singing competences and he was told that Docheiariou should be the place to be. He told the public on my question about Ukrain-Russian relationships in Panteleimonos that it gives no problems. They live together in harmony and both the patriarch Bartholomew and Kyrill are commemorated during the services. The Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople knows this and agrees with it.
The images shot of nature -during every season- are stunning. Rain, storm, high winds, snow and hot summer days are shown. The monks at Docheiriou work hard and during a scene at the jetty even a small fight breaks ou between some monks. The cause of this fight is not clear.
In all I would strongly recommend to see this film, it gives a special insight in the every day live of the monks, but also how many time they spend in church praying and singing: the scene of the Easter service – useally all night long – is fantastic, and also the initiation of a priest monk, where the abbot start crying, is an extraordinary scne. Go and see it.
Our panel of viewers/Athos pilgrims gave it 4 stars **** (out of five).
A special thanks to ms Katia Novikova, who made it possible to see the film with Dutch subtitles in The Netherlands (and in Belgium).
Wim Voogd, 5/8
NB. look here to find out where the films shows: 11th August again in De Balie in Amsterdam.
A new update of post 1835: Thanks to the help of Japetus I can publish the new regulations for making a reservation, see post 1835. I will try to find out if the new rules also apply for foreigners:
According to the owner of Hotel Akrogiali in Ouranopolis the old regulations again apply, so it is possible to walk from monastery to monastery again (info 28-7-2022)!
Japetus informed us that foreign visitors currently can make s reservation THREE months before arrival instead of six months.
Yves Milonas informs us that a lot of monasteries are still very afraid, ea Vatopedi admit you only on the first day of your visit and with a negatif Covid test proof. Vatopedi and Xenofondos now use a web application to register and ask for overnight stay. Some monasteries just answer politly that they don’t have any places free.
Time to make plans for a pilgrimage in 2023 (or this year ofcourse)!
In post 2222 from October 2021 I published the news about a new Athos documentary, made by the Ukrainian director Alexander Zaporoshchenko and producer Alexander Pliska. At that time it was uncertain when the premiere in the West would follow.
Last week our dear reader Vasilís pointed out to me that the film will be playing in Holland in August this year. The organiser, Katia Novikova, told me that the film would have its premiere in Rotterdam on August 14th, but now it turns out that the film will be shown in other cities sooner.
In Rotterdam the original film is shown in Ukrain language (and Greek) at 14.30 h, later that afternoon 17 h the film is subtitled in Dutch. Tickets can only be ordered by phoning Katia on 06-2170 3480. Be quick, because there only 80 tickets available in this location:
August 14th: Het Klooster Oude Noorden, Ruivenstraat 81 3036 DD Rotterdam.
Mr Alexander Pliska will also be present and give an introduction. The prize for a ticket is € 10,00, but it is much appreciated if an extra amount can be donated, because this benefits Urkrainian refugees (and Alexander Pliska is one of them). Katia will sent you a payment request (Tikkie).
Katia in the meanwhile managed to arrange more presentations, first in Breda on August 3th in the church of the protestantse gemeente Ginneken gebouw “Mariendal” Duivelsbruglaan 21, 4835 JD Breda. Tickets are available at the venue – see poster below.
Below can see the latest developments where and when the film will be shown in The Netherlands:
According to this weblog the drilling for mineral water is being carried out without the permission of the Iera Epistatia – the Holy Community- !! The writer of this weblog also asks the question how far the secularization of modern Mount Athos will go?
If you want to know more about the buisenes plan of Avaton water and the people behind it, read this article in Greek by George Lampiris in Capital.gr (use Google Translate).
And VolodK added this new information to the previous post 2237 , to file your complaint correctly (thanks Volod)! The factory is still missing the final permit but it is said it’s on the way! Let’s try to stop this madness, maybe it is not too late?
Text Volod: “Searching here I found these are the correct information for the company. The rest of the VAT number is 192552 (I made a free account) so please update the complaint form accordingly because the other company is in Cyprus so the complaint to the Greek authorities is void”.
In post 2234 I showed pictures of the surrounding area of Xiropotamou and the graveyard/ossuary.
In this post we wil take a closer look at the courtyard and its buildings. As said before, it is not easy to present pictures of this monastery, because the archondaris and the monks are not very keen on visitors, especcialy if you are not orthodox. Even a group of Rumenean Orthodox pilgrims, who kindly requested if they could see the Katholicon from the inside, were refused rather bluntly, provoking indignant reactions.
We will start this photo survey at the main gate: a marble gate with a large icon behind glass of the 40 Martyrs (where the monastery is dedicated to) and a beautiful haute-relief in the frieze. Under the frieze is a text in Greek visible, but it is almost impossible the see or read it.
The corridor behind the main gate that leads to the courtyard: here the archondaris welcomes you and checks your diamoniterion.
The courtyard with the Katholicon in the centre, the Phaile on the right and a place where plants and herbs grow in pots.
Looking back at the entrance. On the groud floor on the left you are invited to have a small meal and a drink or coffee. The stairs lead to the archondariki and your rooms.
The clock tower, Phiale and Katholicon.
When you look at older pictures from the clock tower, you will see a strange phenomenon, that occurs in a few monasteries on Athos: above the clock you can see a statue of a figure (a man) standing, holding a club (or sword?). I found two photo’s from 1911 and 1927:
Probably most visitors of Athos remember the same figure standing in the clock tower of Vatopedi:
and I also found a photo of the this figure, that once stood on the clock tower of Iviron monastery (thanks monk T.) – this one has disappeared in the meanwhile.
Here in Iviron you can clearly see a man with a hammer and a bell. It took me some time to figure out before I found some more information about this strange (black?) figure. Finally I found this website of a Georgian artist, who renovated the man with the hammer in Vatopedi monastery. He tells about his renovation activities and he explains the meaning of this strange figure (in Vatopdi also with a sword/scimitar).
‘On the tower of this monastery there is a 300-year-old clock and a monument of a man with a sword. The man is also holding a hammer and an iron plate. Every half an hour he hits the hammer on the plate and reminds us that we are mortal’.
This is maybe the simple explanation about this enigmatic statue. But I wonder if this figure is typical for Athos bell towers or if this phenomenon is found at other places? And why does it appear to be a black man and why has he a (Turkish?) scimitar? Why is he dressed in this way? Many questions are to be answered yet.
The (empty) left window above the modern clock in the clock tower of Xeropotamou monastery in 2019.
According this source Mount Athos will be transformed into a construction site the coming period. The renovations should be completed in December 2023. They have been planned in the Operational Program “Transport Infrastructure, Environment and Sustainable Development 2014-2020” of ΕΣΠΑ (NSRF). Twenty new projects will be financed, with a budget of over 18.5 million euros.
Fixing and restoration of the shell of the Holy Hut of the Entrances of the Virgin in the Hermitage of Agios Dimitriou of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, 325.000 euros.
Restoration of the building of the old “Vagenari” of the Holy Cell of Agios Nikolaos “Dontas” of the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras, 389.500 euros.
Structural and functional restoration of part of the northeastern wing of the Holy Monastery of Xiropotamos, 1.862.000 euros.
Restoration of the Holy Cell of Agios Ioannis the Theologian of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, 1.059.000 euros.
Restoration of the Holy Hut of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Saint Savvas in the Skete of St. Anne of the Holy Monastery of the Great Lavra, 302.5 00 euros.
Restoration of the building complex of the Representation of the Holy Monastery of Pantokratoros in Karyes, 1.692.000 euros.
Complete fixing and restoration with the final purpose of reusing the 3rd part of the building complex of the East Wing of the Holy Monastery of Zografou, which covers almost the entire eastern side of the Holy Monastery and its buildings today are the oldest remaining buildings in the Monastery, 1.649.000 euros.
Reconstruction of the Holy Hut of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary of the Holy Hermitage of Agios Panteleimon of the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou, 675.000 euros.
Restoration of the cell of Agios Nikolaos, Kapsala area (Karyes) of the Holy Monastery of Iviron, 888.000 euros
Restoration of the roof and dealing with the moisture problems of the Sunday Church of the Holy New Hermitage of the Holy Monastery of Agios Pavlos, 314.000 euros.
Restoration of the southern cord of the monastery complex of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou, 1.760.000 euros.
New district heating installation of the Holy Monastery of Iveron, with replacement of the existing heating system, 1.454.000 euros
Restoration of the Dormition Hut of the Virgin Mary I in the Holy New Hermitage of the Holy Monastery of Agios Pavlos, with its parallel upgrade and modernization, 407.500 euros.
Restoration of the building complex of the old Abbess of the Holy Monastery of the Great Lavra of Mount Athos. It is the oldest and perhaps the most important wing within the precinct of the millennial Monastery, as its construction dates from the middle of the 10th century to the 16th century, as it includes archaeological finds from the time of the owner of the Monastery of Saint Athanasios, 1.512.000 euros.
Restoration of buildings of the Representation of the Holy Monastery of Esfigmenou in Karyes, 1.397.000 euros
Restoration and renovation of the Seat of the Virgin Mary of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou and the surrounding area, 630.000 euros.
Reconstruction and partial restoration of the Holy Hut “St. Gregory Palamas “of the Holy Monastery of Agios Pavlos, 768.000 euros
Restoration of the Church of Agios Prokopios, which dates back to the 11th century, in the homonymous Kelli of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, 576.000 euros
Restoration of the Holy Hut of Agios Georgios Holy Skete of Agia Anni, Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra, 405.000 euros.
Restoration of the old arsanas of the Holy Monastery of Filotheou, 464.000 euros.
Wim Voogd, 8/5/2022 (thanks Vasilis for sharing this information on Facebook)
Tomorrow, Thursday 14th of April at 19h AM an exhibition will open (for only four days) of pictures made by the German monk who lives and works in Simonospetras, Theodosios. The exhibition is in the town Ursensollen in the culural centre “Kubus“. From the 1st of May 2022 his photographs will be on display in Hamburg in the “Nikolai Kirche“.
ATHOS “I will dwell here, because it pleases me.” (Psalm 132:14) Photographs of monk Theodosios Simonopetritis
In the last thirty years, a great many contemporary photographs of Mount Athos have come to the public. In the majority these photos are made by visitors. Familiar with the Holy Mountain or not, these images express firstly what ordinary visitors or devout pilgrims see, in contrast to the images of contemporary societies. In the case of Father Theodosios it is different. Several years ago he came to on to stay on Athos. Not only did he consciously choose this place, but he has it learned to love and made it his home. What he photographs is his, not something foreign or impressive, but his homeland. It does not concern him to show the “others”; he simply shows us “the tents of his house” (Psalm 132:2). He does not depict the outer place, but the inner one, the Athos, where he lives.
Father Theodosios’ pictures are divided into five units. The first unit is a study of the relationship of the built-up space with the natural landscape and its boundaries – boundaries that on Mount Athos are not always are easy to distinguish. The first unit expresses this problem, shows but at the same time the technical skill of the photographer.
The second unit shows examples of people’s presence; the countless anonymous, to whom we owe handicrafts, tools, religious objects – a multitude of small details that point to the long continuity and tradition of Athos.
The third part relates to the people of the Holy Mountain, young and old monks, ascetics, but also the pilgrims who visit the monks’ mountain.
The fourth part goes to the heart of human activity on the Holy Mountain, the liturgical life. It is one of the few times where pages of the liturgical life of a monk, which explains the dynamics of the images.
The fifth and final section features rare images of the admirable nature of the Holy Mountain.
And so the photographs of Father Theodosios fit into the tradition of photography on the Holy Mountain, giving them a new quality and adding a new tone.