Monastery Agiou Pavlou is situated in the west foot of Athos, 20 min from the sea and is dedicated in the Presentation of Christ to the temple.
The monastery was destroyed many times by various causes, and its buildings belong to different periods. The Katholicon was built shortly before the mid 10th c. The monastery has 12 chapels, the most important of which is that of St George, with frescoes of the Cretan School (1555).
The monastery also possesses the Nea Skete and the Skete of St Demetrius. The monastery is mentioned for the first time, in the mid 10th c., mostly its founder Pavlos Xeropotaminos, and then in 1259. After the Catalan raids, it is degraded into a kellion, only to become a monastery again in the 3rd quarter of the 14th c. In the 15th c. it is financially supported by Serbians rulers and after the fall of Byzantium, by rulers of eastern Europe.
Among the monastery’s possessions, are counted portable icons, heirlooms, holy relics and liturgical vessels. The library contains 494 manuscripts and about 12,500 books. The monastery is inhabited by a brotherhood of 30 monks.
Photos sent from St. Arsenios’ Monastery (Vatopedi, Chalkidiki) pilgrims; Gerondas Theoklitos is presiding at the Church services.
Photo Gallery (II) – Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner – Serres, Greece
In the bottom of a ravine on Mt. Menikion, 8 kilometres north of Serres lies the Monastery of Timios Prodromos (Venerable Forerunner). Since 1270 when the monastery was founded by Saint Ioannikios from Serres and later taken over by his nephew Saint John, this holy monastery has offered tremendous help in the spiritual and ethnic struggles of Hellenism.
A University school operated within the monastery for 300 years where many people graduated as doctors, teachers, priests, etc. The first Patriarch after the fall of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius, lived as a monk in the monastery and remained there until his death. His grave is found in the Mesonyktiko of the monastery’s church.
A great deal of the monstery’s destruction was caused by the Bulgarians during their raids in 1917 and in 1941. Most of the monks were killed, and the consecrated vessels and a vast array of manuscripts and books were stolen. Recently the stolen treasures were found in Sofia, Bulgaria, but have yet to be returned to the monastery. After the second raid and the killing of its monks, the monastery was left in ruins. However, with God’s help, the monastery became a convent in 1986. From then onwards, the new sisterhood has continued the Orthodox tradition passed on by the Fathers of the monastery, not only in the restoration of the ruined buildings but even more, in offering the pious people who visit, all the spiritual aid they yearn for.
For Day Trip, Part I, go here
A photo gallery of a day of blessed fellowship at the Timios Prodromos Monastery together with friends, which were spiritual children of + Elder Eusebios Vittis . Memory Eternal +
Twelve kilometres northeast of Serres, to the west of a deep ravine Mountain Menikiou, is located the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, one of the historical monasteries and most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia, Greece and one of the major centres of Orthodox monasticism in the Balkans. The natural beauty surrounding the monastery is just breathtaking. The Holy Monastery of Timios Prodromos of Serres is a pilgrimage of stunning beauty.
The establishment of the Monastery in 1270 and its long history testifies the culture, tradition and the rich spirituality of Byzantium, and is an astonishing monument of Byzantine art.
The monastery was built in 1270 AC by Ioannikios, who served as bishop os Ezeve (Dafni). Afterwards, his nephew, Joakim Metropolite of Zihni, during the year 1300 surrounded the nunnery with high, solid walls and endowed it with royal donations (monastery dependency and land).
In 1345 AC the land belonging to the nunnery was almost destroyed by the invasion of the Serbs. Only due to Helen wife of the Serbian Krali Stefanos Dousan, the area wasn’t destroyed.
During the Turkish domination, the nunnery had the great honour of welcoming the first Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios after the fall of Constantinople. According to history, Gennadios was Patriarch for three years, from 1453 to 1457 and then he resigned and came to the Nunnery. In 1462 he was invited to the Patriarchal throne for the second time, which lasted only for one year. In 1464 he returned to the Patriarchal throne for the third time, but he was replaced by Joasaph the 1st, not having even completed one year and as a result, he returned to the Nunnery, where he died in 1472. According to tradition, Gennadios grave was in the middle part of the Catholic church of the Nunnery, close to the graves of the founders. The removal of his relics took place in May of 1854 and now are placed in a box. Close to the tomb there is a marble sign, engraved with an honourable epigram by the poet Helias Tantalidis, which was sent by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, at the time of the removal of the wise Patriarch’s relics.
The nunnery has been the centre of a constant painting movement. There are icons of the 14th century, some of the most interesting in our country and also beautiful wall paintings from the year 1630. There is also an incredible icon screen made out of walnut wood and very artistically engraved in 1804.
In the square ancient tower of the nunnery, that was converted into a library, there were 100 hand-written volumes in vellum, 200 hand-written volumes in paper, 1500 volumes of different kinds of books, 4 golden bulls of Byzantine emperors, in vellum, 5 patriarchal sigils, 4 old codes and many other religious articles that were stolen by the Bulgarians during 1913 and 1917.
Since the early years of its establishment enjoyed the favour of the Byzantine emperors. With donations and the grants acquired considerable wealth and quickly developed into an essential monastic centre.
The main temple is stone built, and there are many Byzantine frescoes. The iconostasis is carved and dates back to 1804. In the cathedral, magnificent frescoes are preserved belonging to different chronological phases and in various stylistic trends from the 14th century onwards — a living museum of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art.
The Cathedral is a monument of Byzantine hagiography, whose frescoes are attributed to Macedonian hagiographer M. Panselinos. Along with the surviving pictures, heirlooms, manuscripts and other objects of miniaturisation, they all give a complete picture of the artistic and intellectual radiation experienced by the monastery since its inception to date.
The operation of a Greek school since 1825 and a Seminary from 1869 confirmed the name rightly won as a “Monastery of Literature”.
The age of the monastery, the permanent residence of thirty nuns and the large turnout of believers led to the need for reconstruction of the new Catholic, built in the architectural standards of the Byzantine monasteries.
Since 1986, there have been nuns in the Monastery, mostly university graduates who chose poverty, chastity and obedience over careers, relationships and motherhood, who came from the Monastery of Panagia Odigitria of Volos and are under the obedience of Elder Efraim of Arizona. The life of nuns is dedicated to worship, reading, and working in the monastery. In addition to their attendance at church, the sisters spent several hours in private prayer and meditation. Often people struggle with the idea of a young woman, even a college graduate, entering religious life: “It seems so different to be readily accepted by others. For several years my parents didn’t recognise it… However, it was a conscious choice through internal need” (Νun Iosephia).
The monastic community is engaged with various daily work and chores: cooking, raising the necessary supplies of vegetables and fruits, producing wine, oil and honey, embroidery, iconography and so many others.
The fraternity under the guidance of Αbbess Fevronia makes every effort to reconstitute the complex with remarkable results. The old distillery of Monastery wine now forms a small cosy museum. On December 13, 2010, the monastery was hit by a fire that destroyed the hospice, the old showroom, the guest room and other buildings. The 30 nuns are trying hard to reconstruct the building complex of the Monastery which was ruined in 1986. Since then, the monastic community in cooperation with the Authority of Byzantine Antiquities in Kavala has undertaken the work of conservation and restoration of the monastery.
A Brief History of the Timios Prodromos Monastery
The katholicon (main church) was built in the 14th century and belongs to the single-aisled domed type with lite, narthex, exonarthex and an oblong roofed portico on the south side (Makrynariki)
On the north side are two chapels and the belfry. The rest of the buildings are organized around the katholicon: cells, abbot’s quarters, school, refectory, library, hostel. The wall paintings of the katholicon were executed in 1300-1333 and were continued in several periods, by various artists.
The monastery was founded in 1275-1278 by Monk Ioannikios from Serres and a few years later it was renovated by his nephew, Ioakeim, bishop of Zichne. It soon developed to an important monastic centre with great financial prosperity, because it was favoured by the Byzantine emperors. Patriarch George Scholarios (Gennadios) died here and was buried in the katholicon.
As the spiritual centre of Hellenism in eastern Macedonia, during the Balkan wars the monastery of Timios Prodromos (Saint John the Baptist) provoked the fury of the Bulgarians, who took pains to strip it of its historic treasures. Greek historical documents and in particular the monastic library were carried off to Sofia in their entirety in 1912. The quest for these invaluable sources of Macedonian history has since occupied, as it continues to occupy, much scholarly research.
The monastery, still functioning today, acquired its final form with the addition of many buildings during the Turkish occupation.
In the years between 1972 and 1986 the roofs of several buildings were repaired. Since 1986 restoration has been carried out at the cells of the east wing and at the north wing.
This is the most important monastery of Serres (Serrhai).
Blessed New Year 2019! May He who is the Alpha and Omega Christ our True God grant us every strength and all virtues necessary for our salvation in this year of His grace 2019. May we honour our calling and chosen way as Christians. Soon, I will start uploading lots of stories and photographs from a recent pilgrimage to Euboia.
Back to Greece, for yet another long pilgrimage. And yes, Greece can be foggy like England.
Our pilgrimage starts at a historic monastery, dating back to the 12th century, located one kilometer from Promahi village (Aridaia, Greece), founded by St. Hilarion of Meglin (Feast Day – October 21).
St. Hilarion was born of eminent and devout parents in that same village of Promahi, in the late 11th century. His childless mother had long prayed to God that He grant her a child, and in accordance with her prayer, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to her and comforted her with the words: “Do not grieve, you will give birth to a son and he will turn many to the light of truth.” When Hilarion was three years old, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!” was constantly on his lips. He was well-educated, was tonsured a monk at age eighteen, and founded this monastery dedicated to the Holy Apostles, based on the Rule of Saint Pachomios.
These days, the monastery is an austere women’s monastery with 5 nuns under the obedience of Hieromonk Paisios, a spiritual child of St. Paisios. Vespers here is otherworldly in its beauty.
Saint Hilarion of Meglin’s lifelong struggle and contribution to the Orthodox Church was against the Bogomils. Because of Hilarion’s prayers and exhortations, many of the Bogomils abandoned their teachings and converted to Orthodox Christianity. It is noted in the thirteenth century Markianos Code, Codex 524, that during his burial service, myrrh streamed continually from his eyes and that he later appeared on many occasions in visions to the monks of the monasteries to strengthen them in their monastic duties.
O Venerable Father Hilarion, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.