Thursday, February 19, 2009

To the Holy Mountain

Very early Tuesday morning, Fr. Joseph and I set out for the Holy Mountain. We were blessed with great weather. Of course, it was cold with highs in the mid-40s, but it was very sunny and no wind.

We took the normal 9:45 boat from Ouranoupoulis (the mainland port) to Daphne (the port of Mt. Athos). In the top photo, you can see Fr. Joseph looking out from the boat as we passed by monasteries such as the beautiful St. Panteleimon's (the Russian monastery), seen in the photo.

When we arrived in Daphne, we hopped on the bus up to Karyes, the capital of the Holy Mountain. We arrived there around 12:30 and went inside the Protaton, the main church of the Holy Mountain, where all the monasteries meet. Inside, we venerated the Axion Estin (It is Truly Meet) icon.

Then I had the idea to try to see a certain Fr. Nikodemos, a Serbian monk whom I had heard a lot about. He lives in the cell St. Sava of Serbia built and lived in from 1200-1207. There he wrote the Karyes typikon, which is inscribed in marble in the cell. Fr. Nikodemos, who lives there alone, faithfully keeps that typikon (schedule of life and prayer), which is regarded as one of the most rigorous programs. The cell also houses a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God the Milk-Giver, which depicts the Panagia nursing the Christ child.

In the second photo, you can see Fr. Joseph standing outside the door of St. Sava's cell. We rang the bell and called for Fr. Nikodemos, but he wasn't in or wasn't answering, so we headed on to the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou, one of the 20 monasteries of the Holy Mountain, and the closest to Karyes.

We were received, had the traditonal strong raki, water, Turkish Delight, and Greek coffee, and then shown to our room around 2:00. We wandered around and explored the monastery until Vespers began at 3:00.

The third photo is of the main church, located in the center of the square fortification of the monastery.

The final photo is of the west entrance to the church. In the background to the left is the entrance to the monastery itself.

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