Athos, Mount

Athos, Mount (Hagion Oros). Holy mountain at the eastern end of the Chalcidice Peninsula in the Aegean Sea, Greece (about 2,032 m in height). Mount Athos is the center of Orthodox monastic life and was inhabited by monks as early as the 6th century. The first monastery was established in AD 963. In time Mount Athos came to house 20 monasteries, many hermitages, and a great number of monks' cells, together forming the so-called monastic republic, self-governed by the clerics under the leadership of the protohegumen. Several thousand monks inhabited Athos (in 1917 they numbered over 9,000; in 1968—1,580). The monks have primarily been Greeks, but a certain number came from the Balkan and East European countries. Mount Athos gave birth to the monastic movement throughout the Orthodox countries. The Athos monasteries have rich libraries, containing valuable archival materials (about 10,000 manuscripts) and treasures of religious art. Mount Athos is an important center for Orthodox pilgrimages.

Ukrainian monks have lived at Mount Athos since the 11th century. Among them were Saint Anthony of the Caves (first half of the 11th century; his cave is located in the Esphygmen monastery), Ivan Vyshensky (ca 1590–1621), Khrystofor and Feodul (early 17th century), Yov Kniahynytsky (d 1621), Isaakii Boryskovych (d 1641), Vasyl Hryhorovych-Barsky (1723 and 1747), Paisii Velychkovsky (1746–68), the hermit Platon, and others. The Saint Panteleimon Monastery (Rossikon), established in 1169 (and still housing some monks from Transcarpathia) has ties with Ukraine, as does the Ukrainian Saint Elijah Hermitage (belonging to the Pantokrator monastery), established in 1757 by Paisii Velychkovsky. Ukrainian monks conducted religious and literary work at Mount Athos.

Shchurat, V. Chernecha respublyka na Afoni (Lviv 1895)
Skakal's'kyi, I. Palomnytstvo po sviatykh mistsiakh skhodu (Winnipeg 1966)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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