On Monday morning, June 27, Bishop Maxim led a group of two priests, one deacon, and five laymen to Hilandar Monastery on Mt. Athos. The bishop was greeted with the ringing of the monastery's bells, and the all the monks came out to greet him at the entrance. There they gave him the mandyas (bishop's cloak) and he entered into the monastery, proceeding down to the main church. Above is a view of the main church from near the entrance to the monastery. It was this part of the monastery, near the entrance, that suffered the most damage in the very serious fire of 2004.
After the new abbot, Methodije, treated us to refreshments, he took us for a tour of the monastery, including a visit to the monastery's vineyards. Above, Bishop Maxim is checking out the grapes. You can see the Aegean Sea (i.e. the northeast coast of the peninsula) in the background.
Just outside the building where they produce the wine, Bishop Maxim picked some wild berries that everyone tried.
Here we are inside the winery, where the monk in charge provided us with a wine-tasting of their two productions, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Paul's godfather, Paris, was able to take off a few days from work to join us for this trip.
We then walked down to the waterline, which is close by. Here Bishop Maxim is gathering some rocks.
Here I am with Pars and Abbot Methodije on Hilandar's eastern dock.
Next we visited the cemetery. Above, the cemetery chapel behind Bishop Maxim and Abbot Methodije. Below, the ossuary underneath the chapel.
Here are the plots where the newly reposed monks rest for a few years before they are exhumed and placed in the ossuary.
Here's our group at the entrance to the monastery.
The new guesthouse is built just outside the monastery walls. Here is a view of the monastery from the guesthouse.
Here are the frescoes at the monastery's entrance.
Here are some views of the inner courtyard of the monastery from my room, situated near the monastery's entrance.
Here is Bishop Maxim walking down to the church for Small Vespers. We had a Vigil for Vivovdan from 9:00 to 3:15 AM, followed by a short rest, and then Liturgy at 7:00 AM. Vivovdan is a Serbian feast dedicated to St. Prince Lazar and the martyrs who died with him fighting against the Turks in 1389 in the Battle of Kosovo. Although the Serbs didn't win (it was basically a stalemate), they so damaged the Turkish army that they were not able to continue sweeping through Europe, thus saving western Europe from Islamization.
After Small Vespers, our tour continued. Here a monk is showing us the vine of St. Symeon.
Bishop Maxim, Fr. Blasko (a priest of the diocese with a parish in Orange County, CA), and I were then treated to a special tour of Hilandar's library. The monastery's librarian was just pulling ancient manuscripts out of a drawer, including this one -- the ORIGINAL Typikon of St. Sava (or Karyes Typikon). That's the original wax seal there at the bottom.
Here are some shots from the small library quarters.
Finally, here's a photo from the end of the Liturgy for Holy Prince Lazar on Tuesday morning. I was blessed to be able to serve, now making it three Athonite monasteries in which I've been able to celebrate.
For more photos, click here.