Saturday, September 15, 2012
AGION OROS - THE HOLY MOUNT IN HALKIDIKI
Mount Athos is situated in the entire third, eastern and most beautiful peninsula of Halkidiki, called the peninsula of Athos. It is the only place in Greece that is completely dedicated to prayer and worship of God.
For this reason, it is called the Holy Mount.
The Holy Mount is about 50 Km in length, 8 to 12 Km in width and it covers an area of about 350 square kilometres.
The borders of the monasterial city are defined on the ground by an imaginary line that starts from the location "FRAGOKASTRO" in the West coast and reaches the cape "ARAPIS" in the opposite end.
The natural beauty of the peninsula is extraordinary. The highest point of Mount Athos is like a huge cone, reaching 2033 metres in height. It’s a naked, treeless crest that seems to lance the sky and its slopes are fully covered by ancient evergreens. All these help to create an area of incomparable natural beauty.
Only males are allowed entrance into Mount Athos, which is called "Garden of the Virgin" by monks, and Orthodox Christians take precedence in the permit issuance procedure. Only males over the age of 18 who are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to live on Athos, either as monks or as workers.
According to the athonite tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was sailing accompanied by St John the Evangelist from Joppa to Cyprus to visit Lazarus. When the ship was blown off course to then pagan Athos it was forced to anchor near the port of Klement, close to the present monastery of Iviron. The Virgin walked ashore and, overwhelmed by the wonderful and wild natural beauty of the mountain, she blessed it and asked her Son for it to be her garden. A voice was heard saying "Ἔστω ὁ τόπος οὖτος κλῆρος σὸς καὶ περιβόλαιον σὸν καὶ παράδεισος, ἔτι δὲ καὶ λιμὴν σωτήριος τῶν θελόντων σωθῆναι" (Translation: "Let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a haven of salvation for those seeking to be saved"). From that moment the mountain was consecrated as the garden of the Mother of God and was out of bounds to all other women.
It has been divided into twenty self- governed territories. Each territory consists of a cardinal monastery and some other monastic establishments that surround it (cloisters, cells, cottages, seats, hermitages).
All the monasteries are communes (of a convent nature) which means that there is common liturgy, prayer, housing, nourishing and work among the monks. The Superior of the monastery, being elected by the monks for life, is responsible for the affairs of the monastery. The Superiors of the monasteries are members of the Holy Assembly and exercise legislative authority.
Moreover, every year the monastery elects its representative to the Holy Community which exercises administrative authority, while the Holy Supervision exercises executive authority and consists of 4 members, elected by the 5 hierarchically preceding monasteries.
Mount Athos (/ˈæθɒs/; Greek: Όρος Άθως, Oros Athos Greek pronunciation: [ˈaθos]) is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site and self-governed state in the Hellenic Republic, Athos is home to 20 stavropegial Eastern Orthodox monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. Today Greeks commonly refer to Mount Athos as the "Holy Mountain"