Vatopedi Monastery

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Vatopedi Monastery

The Monastery of Vatopedi is located on the north-eastern part of the peninsula and is the 2nd in the hierarchal rank among the monasteries of Mount Athos. It is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and celebrates on the 25th of March. Some people associate the name “Vatopedi” with the flora of the surrounding countryside (vatos = shrub, pedion = plain or ground); others with Emperor Theodosios who built the monastery by gratitude for the miraculous rescue of his son Arkadios, who was rescued from a shipwreck and found next to a bush (vato = brier, paidi = child).

The monastery was founded by Saint Constantine the Great and was destroyed by Emperor Julian the Apostate. It was rebuilt by Emperor Theodosios in the 4th century AD and eventually destroyed again by Arabs in the 8th century. During the second half of the 10th century AD, it was rebuilt by three monks, Athanasios, Nicholaos and Antonios from Adrianople, who were disciples of Athanasios the Athonite. The katholikon was rebuilt on top of an early Christian Basilica. The earliest known testimony of the existence of the Vatopedi monastery dates back in 985, in a document where there is the signature of the first abbot, and one of the founders.

From then onwards, several buildings have been constructed but the most important ones, were those built during the Byzantine period, and on the 18th as well as the 19th century. It is a large monumental monastery surrounded by towering walls, with its buildings set on triangle. In the courtyard, there is the central church, the cross formed refectory, a byzantine period clock tower and several chapels. The church is decorated with frescoes painted around 1312 by famous painter Manuel Panselinos from Thessaloniki and retains some mosaics from the Byzantine period.

Vatopedi's library preserves a medieval royal charter, the 13th-century Vatopedi Charter of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria, an early-14th century Codex Vatopedinus 655, extracts from Strabo and Ptolemy's geographical works, and early maps as well as around 2,000 manuscripts and 35,000 printed books. Among the manuscripts is the oldest copy of the Geography of Ptolemy. The library is housed in one of the monastery’s towers and two other buildings. Apart, the manuscripts and the documents, the monastery has in its possession a large number of religious objects, relics and eight miraculous icons of the Virgin Mary (Vimatarissa, Antifonitria, Paramythia, Pantanassa, Elaiovritissa, Pirovolithisa, Theodorskagia and Esfagmeni). It also holds the Cincture of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), a belt that is believed to be the actual belt of the Theotokos which she wore on earth and gave to Thomas the Apostle after her death and during her transition to heaven. The belt was given to the monastery as a gift by Emperor Ioannis Kantakouzenos.

To Vatopedi belongs the Greek skete of Saint Demetrios and the Russian skete of Saint Andrew (Serrai). Ninenteen chapels lie within and outside the boundaries of the monastery. In the church there is a clock tower, where the hours are marked by a mechanism of a human form that holds a hammer. Vatopedi Monastery features also 26 Kelia (cells). The Holy Monastery of Vatopedi has founded schools, such as the Athonian Academy on Mount Athos, the Vatopedi school in Larnaca, and has supported the foundation of schools, such as the Great School of the Nation in Constantinople.

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