Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Holy Monastery of Grigoriou

At 10:30 Friday morning, the boat stopped at Agiou Pavlou and we got on to ride up to Grigoriou.

On the way, we passed by the monastery in between the two, Dionysiou. You can see it in the background behind Thomas in the photo above.

After about a 30 minute ride, we arrived at Grigoriou, which--after all our hiking--was, happily, located right on the sea (see above).

Our plan was this: That night, was our last night on the Holy Mountain, and we had places reserved at Simonopetra, which is located one monastery further north, but way up in the mountain. My idea was to get off at Grigoriou, visit the monastery, and then walk up to Simonopetra. A good friend of mine and Paris, Michael Tishel, was also staying at Grigoriou for the summer, and we wanted to meet up with him.

Given the heat (it was the hottest day of the year so far, clocking in at 102 or so), a couple people suggested to me that this was a crazy plan. The distance between the monasteries had been estimated to me variously as anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The monks are notorious for citing what we call "monastic speed" time, which is about twice as fast as other people, so we figured it would be closer to 2 hours than 45 minutes. We had debated not going to Grigoriou and trying to find an easier way to Simonopetra (through Daphni), but ultimately we decided that we wanted to venerate the church at Grigoriou and that the Panagia would work something out for us to get to Simonopetra without collapsing.

It was worth it to stop there. The monastery is on the small side, and it has a real sense of home. We met up with Michael and went in for the traditional ouzo, Turkish delight, and water, and visited with him for awhile. Then a monk came along and took us to the church (see above). Even though normally the relics are only brought out once a day in the evening, I asked if there was some way we could venerate them before we left. They said the monk in charge would come by shortly. So we wandered around the monastery some and finally a monk brought out the relics for us. I can't remember all the treasures we venerated, but one I remember was St Euphemia, who was being celebrated that very day. I believe also it was there that we venerated the skull of St. Panteleimon.

Even though it was around 1:00 by the time we were ready to leave (and therefore quite hot), we decided to make the hike up the mountain to Simonopetra. Michael, who had done that hike several times, volunteered to come with us and stay for Vespers there and then return by himself. He even volunteered to carry the bag of the poor guy wearing the black dress. :) May the Lord bless him!

The chapel dedicated to St. Anastasia the Roman, whose relics we also venerated.

The courtyard of Grigoriou, with the church in the background. Thomas and Paris are talking to another pilgrim over on the right.

The entrance to the monastery.

An alley between the church (on the left) and some cells (on the right).

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