Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Great & Holy Monastery of Vatopedi

The monastery of Vatopedi is located on the north-eastern coastline of the Athos peninsula. According to Athonite tradition, it was built by the emperor Constantine the Great between the years 324 and 337AD, and was subsequently destroyed by Julian the Apostate at around 362. Vatopedi was re-founded by the Emperor Theodosius as an offering to the Virgin Mary for saving his son Arcadius, from drowning in the rough sea near Mount Athos. Arcadius had been miraculously carried to the shore safely after being in serious danger, and was later found by sailors sleeping near a bramble bush (βάτος,vatos in Greek) The title 'Vatopedi' therefore derives from 'Βάτος,' and 'πεδίον' meaning plain.

In the 10th century, Arab pirates looted and burnt down the monastery. St Athanasius the Athonite, knowing that the monastery was in ruins, sent three nobles (Athanasius, Nicholas, and Antonius) to restore it. A document dated in 985, shows the signature of the monk Nicholas, as Abbot of the monastery. 

To this day, the monastery has subsequently continued to grow, and by 1045 it was given second place within the hierarchy of the monastic state of Mount Athos (after the monastery of Great Lavra). At the end of the 12th century, the former prince of Serbia Symeon Nemanja and his son Savvas were monks at Vatopedi. These two Saints contributed to the monastery's great prestige. At this point, due to the Saint's fruitful work and efforts, the monastery consisted of 800 monks, with the founding of the monastery of Hilandar, as well as five new chapels and extended buildings within Vatopedi's grounds. 

The current Abbot, Archimandrite Ephraim, was elected and enthroned in 1990, and the monastery today consists of around 150 monks. One of the main treasures of the monastery is the Holy girdle of the Virgin Mary, which is the only relic belonging to the Theotokos. Holy Tradition tells us that the belt was made out of camel hair, by the Virgin Mary herself, and she gave it to the Apostle Thomas. Furthermore there are several other miracle-working icons of the Holy Mother of God, such as Panagia Vimatarissa, Panagia Paramythia, and Panagia Esphagmeni.

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