Saturday, May 23, 2015

A chapter in the life of the Russian Church on Mount Athos

Moscow, May 22 (Interfax) - Famous poet, author of the anthem of the USSR Sergey Mikhalkov in Soviet times protected Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery on Athos from claims of Greek monks.

"For instance, Russian monastery on Athos should be thankful to Sergey Mikhalkov for not passing to jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate. When my father arrived there - the first Soviet person, in such a rank - monks met him with bell ringing," son of Sergey Mikhalkov, film director Nikita Mikhalkov writes in his new book of memoirs, its extracts were published on Friday by the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

According to him, seven or eight monks lived there then, the youngest of them was older than seventy.

"Greeks were quietly waiting when the last Russian monk will repose and they will occupy the territory of the Russian monastery and capture its riches (only the unique library collected from the ancient times costs a fortune!)" the film director writes.

When Mikhalkov came back to Moscow, he went to Leonid Brezhnev and told him about almost deserted Russian monastery, saying it was necessary to send young Orthodox monks there.

"First, my father spoke of historical traditions, spiritual heritage... Brezhnev could not understand what the poet wants from him. But seeing that it was difficult for the general secretary to go into the cultural notions, my father changed his arguments dramatically. "There are countless riches there!" And he vividly described monastic treasures that can pass away to Greeks. Brezhnev brightened at once, took the phone and ordered to arrange departure of young monks to Greece to join the Athos monastery," Mikhalkov writes.

Today 20 monasteries work on the Holy Mount. The governor of Athos represents secular authorities at the peninsula, he controls that the regulations of Holy Mount are observed. Mount Athos is under jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate.

The St.Panteleimon Russian monastery was set up in the 9th century. It keeps such shrines as the particle of the Lord's Cross, particle of the stone from the Lord's Sepulcher, relics of holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, the blessed elder Siluan, particle of relics of St. John the Baptist, St. John Chrysostom, St. Joseph, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. George the Victory-Bearer, Apostle and Evangelist Luke.

The monastery was conveyed to Greeks in the 17th century. Russian monks started returning there only in the 30s of the 19th century. The monastery flourished late in the 19th - early 20th century when it became Russian again. Up to 1800 brothers lived in the monastery in 1912. After the revolution when connections with Russia were lost and Russians were systematically pushed out from the Holy Mount, the number of brethren reduced dramatically. Only seven old monks lived in the monastery in the late 1960s. Today there are about 80 people together with novices.

Over 20 thousands of printed Greek, Slavonic and Russian books are kept in the monastic library. Hermitage of the Holy Virgin (Ksilurgu), Old Russik, New Phivaida and Krumnitsa are attached to the monastery.

Celebrations on the occasion of the 1000-year anniversary of the Russian presence there will take place on Athos in 2016.

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