Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Vine of St Simeon

After Small Compline ended around 5:30, we spent the next couple hours walking around the monastery grounds with some of the other pilgrims. We spent most of the time talking to two Buddhist visitors from Japan. One is doing a PhD in Japan on Byzantine art and the other is a professor of Byzantine history in Japan. Interestingly, the former’s dissertation advisor in Japan converted to Orthodoxy and was baptized some years ago at Hilandar. Anyway, it was very interesting to talk with them and hear their impressions of their visit to the Holy Mountain.

In the top photo, you can see the famous Vine of St Simeon, which has grown out of the side of the church (where St Simeon's former resting place is) and born fruit for the last 800 years. In the words of one Serbian website:

"A vine sprouted from St. Simeon's (Stefan Nemanja's) tomb. It still yields fruit after 800 years. Barren women become mothers after they have tasted the grapes from the vine. This miraculous vine has brought luck to many childless married couples who now have their posterity. One can become acquainted with the contents of a great number of letters sent to the monastery by the thankful parents who consumed grapes from Nemanja's vine."

The monks also make wine using a few of the grapes from the vine and give the wine as a blessing to visitors, especially those who have experienced a miracle through St Simeon's intercessions. My Serbian friend related a story I knew to one of the monks, and the monk acted as if he heard 10 of these stories a day. He actually chastised my Serbian friend for not knowing that there is a specific word in Serbian which means something to the effect of "helped to have a child through St Simeon's intercessions."

The second photo features a well in the foreground. You can see the church along the right side, and a pyramid-shaped wood frame which holds St. Simeon's vine.

We also walked outside the monastery and over to the eastern shore of the Holy Mountain, which is only about 25 minutes away. The third photo shows a skete of Hilandar which is located on this shore.

The bottom photo is of Hilandar as we were walking back toward the monastery.

After a long day, we went to bed around 9 PM, in order to get up for Orthros, which begins at 2 AM.

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