Monastery Vatopediou Mount Athos

In the crook of a small bay on the east­ern shores of the promontory, at a distance of two hours from the Monas­teries of Esphigmenou and Pantocrator, 50 metres above sea level, is built the Vatopedi Monastery. From 1046, year in which the emperor Constantine IX Monomachus signed the second Typikon, to this day it is the Vatopedi Monastery which holds the second place in the hierarchy of the Athos monasteries. According to tradition, in the 4th century, during a terrible storm, a huge wave swept the young son of the emperor Theodosius, prince Arcadius, from a boat into the sea. The child was saved thanks to the Holy Vir­gin and was later found sleeping under a bramble bush ("vatos") on the shores of a bay. To thank the Virgin for saving his son, the emperor Theodosius built the Vatopedi Monastery. It is, however, more likely that the name of the monastery derives from the numerous thorny bushes covering the area from the beach to the fringes of the forest. Historically, it can be said with certainty that the Monastery began to be built in 972, the year of the first Typikon signed by the emperor John Tzimisces. Three monks were the founders of the monastery, Athana­sius, Antonius and Nicholas, who later be­came the hegumen of Vatopedi. Antonius and Nicholas had come from Adrianople to Mt. Athos- disciples of Saint Athanasius, and it was the founder of the Great Lavra who urged them to follow his example. The construction of the first buildings was made possible thanks to the generous donations of the emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180). At die end of the century, the founders of the Chelandari Monastery, the monks Sabbas and Symeon, originally of the Vatopedi Monastery, erected other buildings as well as fortifications. A little later they requested and received the kelli of Milea, where the two monks founded the Chelandari Monastery. The close and warm relationship between two monasteries dates from this time, monks of the one are present each year the feast-day of the other, and when a new hegumen is elected and visits the other monastery for the first time, he receives, as from his host, an abbatial staff and a pectoral cross.

In 1203, during the 4th Crusade, the Franks conquered Byzantium and, in the time of Andronicus II (1282-1328) their Catalan mercenaries pillaged the monasteries of Mt. Athos encouraged by the Patriarch, John Bekkus, who was an advocate of the union of the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Gatholic Churches, and who was very much on Mt. Athos.

The Vatopedi Monastery did not escape these predatory raids and was very nearly com­pletely destroyed. However, shortly after­wards, Andronicus tried to heal the wounds he himself had inflicted and, in 1292, grant­ed large sums of money for the restoration of the monastery, which he now led to a new period of prosperity.

Lazar I, who ruled Serbia in the 14th cen­tury, was one of the later benefactors of the monastery. The most precious among his gifts was the Virgin's Girdle (bequeathed, it is said, to the Apostles before her Dormition) which constituted the most sacred relic of the church of St. Sophia. Among the bene­factors of Vatopedi were also the ruler of Moldavia, Stephen the Great (1457-1504) and the dukes of the Danube States.

The fact that the king of Sicily, Alfonso, was obliged to expressly outlaw piracy in a chrysobull, and impose terrible punishments on the transgressors, conveys an idea of the tribulations suffered by the Holy Mountain. The edifices which give Vatopedi, to this day, its characteristic appearance, date from the period of building development in the early 18th century, and their construction was made possible thanks, largely, to the do­nations of the patriarchs Cyprian of Con­stantinople and Gerasimos II of Alexandria. Soon after the period of the Turkish occu­pation, however, began the decline of Vato­pedi. The monastery was forced to sell much of the property it pos­sessed in Greece proper and in die neighboring coun­tries, so as to guaran­tee at least the very fru­gal livelihood of its monks.

In 1743 a new period of prosperity began, due mainly to the foundation, near the monastery, of the Athonite School, which became the most famous school of the Holy Mountain. During this period, the Rus­sian tsars donated large sums of money and contributed also in this way to the prosper­ity of the monastery, which continued to flourish up to the early 19th century, until the beginning of the Greek War of Inde­pendence.

The spacious courtyard of the Vatopedi Monastery very much resembles the main square of a small medieval town. Apart from the imposing Katholikon and the Refecto­ry, numerous chapels form recesses and small courtyards. Water gushes from mar­ble fountains that date from various peri­ods, and stairways and arched porticoes lead to the entrances of the variously- coloured edifices. The dome of the Katholikon rests on four columns made of Ravenna porphyry, and the Byzantine mosaics on the walls of the church constitute rare and precious works of art.

Today only a few traces remain of these mo­saics, which were among the most remark­able of the Byzantine period and which cov­ered, with their impressive splendor, the whole of the interior of the church the tympanum of the entrance to the narthex, for instance, where a Deesis on a gold ground can still be seen. The murals in the inte­rior of the church and the narthex are attrib­uted to artists of the Macedonian School; dat­ing from the 14th centu­ry, they are among the old­est and most noteworthy wall paintings on the Holy Mountain. They were commissioned by the emperor Andronicus II and include representations of scenes from the life of the Virgin and a painting of the Second Coming. Later, in 1739 and 1819, these wall paintings were painted over, but the original work can be seen quite distinctly in certain places. In keeping with the high artistic quality of the church as a whole is the opus sectile floor.

Opposite the Katholikon, in the 12th-cen­tury Refectory with its three apses and its murals dating to 1786, are still preserved the old grayish-white porphyry tables, which have been destroyed in almost all the other monasteries by the vandalism of pirates or by the Turkish conquerors. Under the eaves of the tower of the Katholikon is set a large clock and, beside it, an exotic male figure in Turkish dress, the "Negro", who strikes the bell with a hammer and rings the hours. The free-standing belfry dates from 1427.

Almost incorporated into the narthex of the Katholikon is the phiale with its elegant canopy, supported by slender marble columns. The interior of the canopy's dome was adorned in 1810 with murals representing the Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan, and the Pentecost.

Apart from these priceless works of art, the monastery library and sacristy also contain many other treasures. Besides the 2000 man­uscripts, among which are 625 codices on richly illuminated vellum and 25,000 print­ed books, some of the oldest and most valuable existing maps - the maps of Ptolemy, drawn by Strabo - belong to the Vatopedi monastery. Among the precious relics in the treasury there are, besides the Virgin's Gir­dle, fragments of the True Cross and a sec­tion of the reed on which was fixed the sponge dipped in vinegar, which was offered to Jesus on the Cross. Among the treasures of the monastery is the Jasper, a precious cup which, according to the inscription engraved upon on it was a gift from Manuel Cantacuzenus Palaeologus of Mystras (1349-1380), and which is believed to work miracles.

Of the five miracle-working icons of the Vato­pedi monastery - the Virgin Paramythia, the Virgin Antiphonitria, the Virgin Ktitoris-sa, the Virgin Esphagmeni and the Virgin Bematarissa - the latter, dating from the 9th or 10th century, is the one most deeply revered in the monastery. Its feast-day is cel­ebrated on 21 January, although the monastery itself celebrates its feast day on 25 March, since it is dedicated to the Annunciation.

The skete of Saint Andrew, which is very near Karyes, and the skete of Saint Demetrius, which is half an hour's walk away, towards the interior of the promontory, belong to the Vatopedi Monastery.

In a bay on the east coast of the peninsula, just two hours from the monasteries and Esphigmenou Almighty, 50 m above sea level, the nunnery Vatopedi. Since 1046, the year that the Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus signed the second Standard, the Vatopedi monastery ranks second in the hierarchy of Oros monasteries and maintains that position today.

According to tradition, the 4th century, during a terrible storm, a giant wave swept away into the sea from a ship to the young son of the Emperor Theodosius, Prince Arkadios. The child was saved by the Holy Virgin and later found sleeping under a bush on the shores of Cane Bay. To thank the Virgin for saving his son, Emperor Theodosius Monastery, built Vatopedi. Another, possible origin of the name of the monastery is the many-Aga thotoi Raja covering the area from the beach to the forest edge. Historical confirmed that the monastery began in 972, the year the first formal set signed by the Emperor John Tzimiskes. Three monks were the founders of the monastery, Athanasius, the Anthony and Nicholas, who later became the Igou ¬ Vatopedi menu. The monks had come to Mount from Edirne as sub ¬ bracer of St. Athanasius, and was the founder of the Great Lavra of the suggestion to follow suit. Building the first building was made possible with generous offers of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180). At the end of the century, the founders of the monastery Chelandariou, monks Sava and Simeon, who came from Vatopedi Monastery, built and other buildings and fortifications. Shortly thereafter sought and obtained the cell Milea, where two monks founded the monastery Chelandariou. The close and warm relationship between the two monasteries dating from then. The monks of each monastery attend each year in celebration of another, and when elected a new abbot in his first over ¬ thinking in another monastery, accept as gift from a host igoumeniki rod shirt and come cross.

In 1203, the Franks conquered the Byzantine Empire during the 4th Crusade and the era of Andronikos II (1282-1328) Catalan mercenaries crusaders plundered the monasteries of Athos, by encouraging Vekkos Patriarch John, who supported the union of the Eastern Orthodox Church the Roman Catholic Church, for UT ¬ it and was very hateful to Athos. The Vatopedi also suffer from such predatory attacks and almost completely destroyed. However, he Andronikos tried to heal the wounds he had caused and 1292 offered substantial sums of money for the renovation of the monastery, which was looted and destroyed and now led to a new period of prosperity. Lazarus A, who ruled Serbia in the 14th century, was one of the benefactors of the downstream Mo ¬ Defy. The gift of the Zone of the Virgin (which he said that she bequeathed to the Apostles before the Assumption), was the most sacred relic of St. Sophia. Other benefactors were the Prince of Moldavia Stephen the Great (1457-1504) and Dukes of the Danubian countries.

The fact that King Alfonso of Sicily had to call explicitly outlawed piracy with a bull and terrible punishments imposed on offenders, gives an idea of the risks and tests suffer in Mount Athos. The buildings that give the Vatopedi today the typical form, dating from the period of building development in the early 18th century and construction was to a large extent, the offerings of the patriarchs of Constantinople and Kyirianou Gerasimos II of Alexandria . But soon after the period of Turkish occupation started the decline of Vatopedi. The monastery was forced to sell much of the on ¬ substance held in mainland Greece and neighboring countries to guarantee at least a very simple life of the monks.

In 1743 began a new period of prosperity due to the establishment, near the Monastery of Athoniada School, which became the most famous school of Mount Athos. In this period, the Russian tsars made large donations and helped me so well in the monastery, which continued to thrive until the early 19th century until the beginning of the Greek Revolution.

The spacious courtyard of the monastery of Vatopedi resembles the central square of a small medieval town. Besides the older buildings of the Catholic and the Bank's pollyarithma chapels form recesses and small courtyards. Water gushes from marble fountains dating to various periods, and stairways and arched entrances leading to the entrances variety  lochromon buildings. The dome of the Ms-tholikou based on four pillars of porphyry Ravenna and Byzantine digits dota walls of the church are rare and valuable works of art. Today only a few traces left of these mosaics, which were among the finest of the Byzantine period and covered with its impressive grandeur, of the entire interior of the church-such as the drum at the entrance vestibule, where there has ¬ Prayer in the gold background. The frescoes inside the church and narthex attributed to the hagiographers Makedonikis School. They date from the 14th century and is one of the oldest and most notable murals on Mount Athos. There were a gift of Emperor Andronikos II and include performances of scenes from the life of the Virgin and a painting of the Second Coming. Later, in 1739 and 1819, the murals were re-painted, but the pilot project seems very clear on some points. According to the high artistic quality of the entire temple is the marble decoration of the floor.

Opposite the Catholic, the Bank of the century with three arches and murals of 1786, still retained the old gkrizoaspra tables of porphyry, which have been destroyed in almost all other monasteries of vandalism pirates or invaders. Under the roof of the tower of the Catholic, on the outside, a clock and next to an exotic male figure of the "Negro", which strikes the bell with a hammer saying hours. The bell tower is detached from the temple and built in 1427. Almost built in the narthex of the Catholic is the bottle with elegant ceiling shall be supported by slender marble columns. The interior of the dome roof was decorated in 1810 with frescos representing John the Baptist in the Jordan and the Pentecost. Apart from these priceless works of art, the monastery and has other treasures to the library and sacristy.

PHOTOS OF MONASTERY

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