Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Skete of Veroia

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Last Tuesday, our American friend Trifon finished up his semester abroad at American College of Thessaloniki and moved out of his dorm and back in with us. To celebrate, so to speak, we took a trip to Veroia (spelled variously as Veria, or Berea or Beroea in the New Testament). Of course, this city was made famous by its apostolic visit there around AD 54, when it was visited by St. Paul himself, as well as Sts. Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-15 RSV):

"The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroe'a; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni'ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews of Thessaloni'ca learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Beroe'a also, they came there too, stirring up and inciting the crowds. Then the brethren immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed."

Our destination was the Skete of Veroia (also known as the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner) which dates to the 9th century, when the mountains and caves around Veroia were host to many monks. The Skete of Veroia developed as a place of common worship for Sundays and major feast days for the monks of these caves. Many saints spent time here, such as St. Clement of Ohrid and St. Dionysius of Olympus, but perhaps none more famous than St. Gregory Palamas.

Being located in the mountains, there are plenty of streams with clean, fresh water feeding the skete's springs. Above, Paul takes a drink from a fountain just outside the monastery's gates.

Above, Phoebe walking in the entrance to the monastery, which today is manned by just four male monks.

The monks keep some peacocks. Above, Paul was trying to get a view of them; some of them were perched on a small balcony in the top right of the photo.

At some point in the skete's history, the kitchen was tucked into this cave. This is not too far from what the kitchens look like in some of the sketes on Mt. Athos, such as Little St. Anne's. Above, Paul was checking out the great big pots.

Above, Paul inside the old kitchen.

When St. Gregory Palamas and his disciples came to the skete, they used this cave--which had served as the skete's refrigerator (i.e., cold storage for food)--as an ascetic cell. In the Greek mind, braving the elements (especially cold) is one of the most austere forms of asceticism. Now the cave is preserved as a sort of museum.

In the photo above, you can see the church in the foreground to the right and the entrance to the cave I just mentioned off to the left.

Another spring.

The view from the monastery down to the river.

Trif and Paul light a candle in the church.

The kids found some animals to play with. Phoebe particularly liked this dog.

Above, the outside of the monastery, with a sign in the foreground pointing the way to the cave St. Gregory Palamas used as his cell for 5 years, from 1326-1331.

We took a short hike through the woods, past waterfalls, to venerate inside St. Gregory's cave.

Above and below, Pelagia and Paul in the cave.

Above, Trif coming out of St. Gregory's cave.

Above, a view of the outside of the monastery as we hiked back.

One of the monks, a Greek-German, invited us all for a simple but pleasant lunch with him and a couple workers, and then we headed back to Thessaloniki.

For more photos from the trip, click here.

For Trif's photos from the trip, try to click here, although you may have to be friends with him or something like that.

1 comment:

Trifon said...

Try this