Friday, February 20, 2009


In this photo, Fr. Joseph is exploring the courtyard on the south side of the main church. To the right are guest rooms and straight ahead are cells.

This photo shows, on the right, the west entrance to the church. Straight ahead is the entrance to the monastery. To the left is the trapeza (refectory). (See photo below.) However, we didn't go in there. I assume it's being renovated. We thus ate in a different room.

Here Fr. Joseph is looking out over the landscape. You can see the monastery in the background to the left.

So once we did all this exploring, it was time for Vespers at 3:00. The service was relatively short by Athonite standards, and we finished by 3:50. We ate at 4:00 and then returned to the church for Small Compline and the veneration of the church's relics, as is the normal practice. We were blessed to venerate a large piece of the true cross, the skull of St. Paraskevi, the left arm of St. Gregory the Theologian, and a leg bone of St. Anna (the mother of the Theotokos), which was discovered in Jerusalem by St. Helen (the mother of St. Constantine) in the early 4th century.

Fr. Joseph was exhausted--he still hadn't recovered from the 10-hour time change to Greece, and now he had shifted times once again -- to Byzantine time, with its 3:00 AM wake-up call. So he went to our room to rest, and I headed back to Karyes (only about 10 minutes away) to try again to find Fr. Nikodemos at the cell of St. Sava (see previous post).

This time, he was in, although I suspect that I, like so many of the pilgrims, had interrupted him from his prayer. Nevertheless, he brought me into the chapel to venerate the icon of the Mother of God the Milk-Giver, and he showed me the original room where St. Sava lived. It was a dark tiny cave-like room, perhaps 4 feet in width and 10 or 12 feet in length. Here the saint had spent 7 years in ascetic struggle.

After a few minutes there, I left Fr. Nikodemos to resume his prayers and headed back to Koutloumousiou for the evening.

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