Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Holy Mountain: Konstamonitou

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Well, Fr Joseph and I headed to the Holy Mountain early Monday morning. Our first stop, through the arrangement of a friend here in Greece, was the Monastery of Konstamonitou. It is fairly close to the traditional departure port of Ouranapoli, so we had only about an hour ride on the boat. (See a map of the Holy Mountain here.)

A monk met us at the monastery’s arsena (dock) with a big old truck. Fr Joseph got to ride in the front, while the rest of the pilgrims had the Athonite experience of bouncing around in the bed of the truck.

We arrived at the monastery around noon, and had the traditional ouzo, water, and Turkish delight. We were then shown to our rooms and given something to eat by a very friendly monk in the trapeza (refectory). (He later gave us some of the monastery’s own wine and some herbs he had picked for tea.)

After that, we had the rest of the afternoon free. We had Vespers at 6, followed by a meal, and then Small Compline, with veneration of the monastery’s impressive collection of relics, including St Andrew the Apostle, St Stephen the First Martyr, and St Constantine the Great. They also have the original wonderworking icons of Panagia Odigitria (She Who Directs) and Panagia Antiphonitria (She Who Responds).

In the morning, the service began at 4:30 and ended around 8:30, followed by a breakfast of fish.

In the top photo, Fr Joseph is looking out on the inner courtyard of the monastery from the steps leading up the guest rooms.

The second photo is taken from our guest rooms, looking down into the inner courtyard (mainly of the western entrance to the main church, which occupies the center of the courtyard).

The third photo is of the entrance to the monastery, from the outside. The icons above the gates were sponsored by Serbian rulers who helped rebuild the monastery in the 1800s.

The last photo is taken from the top floor of a building, looking down into the inner courtyard from another angle. Fr Joseph is in the center, exploring the courtyard.

For all the photos from our trip, click here.

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