On Monday morning, I headed off with our American visitors to the Holy Mountain, my tenth trip to Mt. Athos. Above and below, we're enjoying seeing the monasteries as the boat makes its way from Ouranoupolis to Daphni. Above, I'm standing with John as we pass Docheiariou Monastery.
Ken, John, and Fr. Dn. Nathaniel admire the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon.
When we arrived in Daphni, we found Fr. Averkios, the driver of the van from Simonopetra, who drove us over to the monastery. Once we got our rooms, we took a walk up behind the monastery for a view down, which you can see above and below.
Fr. Dn. Nathaniel and Fr. Joseph looking down at the monastery from the gazebo.
We also went into the little cave where the monastery's founder, St. Simon, struggled in the ascetic life.
Here we all are with the monastery in the background.
And here's Fr. Joseph trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Holy Mountain.
We then walked back down to our rooms to have a little rest before the start of the vigil for the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
And here we are walking up the narrow tunnel to the courtyard and main church of the monastery. The vigil went from 6:00 PM until a little before midnight, and then we had a rest before resuming with the Hours and Liturgy from 6:00-8:30. Fr. Joseph, Fr. Dn. Nathaniel, and I were honored to be asked to participate at the entrance at Vespers, and we even got to wear some beautiful vestments made by the sisters in Ormylia, where they hand weave the fabric on looms.
At the Liturgy, Fr. Joseph and I were asked to serve along with the abbot and a couple hieromonks of the monastery, which was a great blessing.
Of course, it goes without saying that the chanting was magnificent. I should also mention that we were able to venerate the monastery's relics, which include the still-warm relic of St. Mary Magdalene, a piece of the True Cross, and relics from St. Tryphon, St. Anne (the mother of the Theotokos), Paul the Confessor (Patriarch of Constantinople), St. Sergius, and St. Barbara, as well as soil containing the blood of the great martyr Dimitrios.
For a few more photos, click here.