Saturday, July 09, 2011

Iviron with Fr. Vasileos

On Tuesday morning after the Liturgy and a festive meal at Hilandar, we headed to Karyes, the capital of Mt. Athos. The road connecting Hilandar with the rest of the Holy Mountain recently washed out, so we took a speed boat down to Dafni, where a taxi van was waiting for us.

This was Bishop Maxim's first visit to the Holy Mountain as a bishop, and the ancient custom is for bishops to be received, on their first visit, by the Protos (head) of the Holy Community at the administrative headquarters, located next to the Protaton. Thus, the Protos treated us all to a raki, a coffee, and sweets, per tradition, and after a discussion with him, we headed down the stairs to venerate the Axion Estin icon in the Protaton (see photo above).

Next, we went to the original cell of St. Sava of Serbia, where a lone Serbian monk has kept St. Sava's Typikon, the most austere on the Holy Mountain, since the saint's repose in the 13th century. Above is part of our group. The cell is down on the left.

Next, we headed over to the "cell" of Bourazeri, a dependency of Hilandar in Karyes, but populated by a large Greek brotherhood of 25. Thus, this "cell" is bigger than some of the ruling 20 monasteries, demonstrating again how relative the terms "monastery," "skete," and "cell" are. Technically, a "cell" on Mt. Athos can have no more than 7 members, but Bourazeri is an exception.

We went there because the brotherhood there is famous for its production of antimensia, which Bishop Maxim wanted to order. They also showed us their gorgeous new "chapel" that is currently being completed. See above and below.

Then it was on to Iviron to see the famous Athonite theologian and elder Fr. Vasileios Gontikakis, an important theologian of the "generation of the 60s" and responsible for renewing two Athonite monasteries, Stavronikita and Iviron, at the same time as the likes of Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra, and Elder Georgios of Grigoriou. Above, we are walking into the entrance of the monastery.

Above, Bishop Maxim, Fr. Vasileios, and the current abbot of Iviron, Fr. Nathaniel. We spent over an hour discussing theology with Fr. Vasileios (see below).

Fr. Vasileios showed us the relatively new iconography inside the refectory. He preferred the light colored backgrounds to make the relatively small space feel more open for the monastery's large brotherhood.

On the way down to our van, I got a few minutes alone with Fr. Vasileios to ask him advice about being a pneumatikos (spiritual father). Above, Iviron from the water.

For more photos, click here.

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