Friday, February 20, 2009

St. Andrew's Skete

Wednesday started at 3:00 AM with Orthros, which lasted until about 5:30. Then everyone headed back to their rooms to rest. We rested for awhile, and then decided to head out. We walked back to Karyes and had a spinach pita to sustain us for a long day of walking.

First, we headed over to St. Andrew's Skete, an enormous complex equal in size to many of the monasteries. Founded by the Russian czars in the 19th century, it reached its apex on the eve WWI, when it had some 700 monks. It has only been repopulated in the last few years, and now 20 monks face the daunting task of preserving and rebuilding it.

These two photos were taken around the courtyard as we explored the monastery.

As you can see in this last photo, the central church, in good Russian style, is enormous, and it is in fact the largest church on Athos. We were not able to go in, unfortunately, because it is undergoing renovations.

Finally, we went into the "small" chapel (by Russian standards) which the monks are currently using as their main church. Here we were blessed to venerate the skull of St. Andrew the First-Called.

We then headed back toward Koutloumousiou, through which we had to pass on our way to the Holy Monastery of Iviron, where we were scheduled to spend our second night.

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