Saint Paul's Monastery

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Saint Paul's Monastery

The Monastery of Agios Pavlos celebrates on the 2th of February the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. According to tradition the monastery was founded by Agios Pavlos Xiropotamitis, owner of Xiropotamou, in the end of the 10th-century. It was originally established as a cell of Xiropotamou but it was cited as a monastery in a golden seal of Emperor Mihael Paleologou in 1259. The Monastery of Agios Pavlos is located in an altitude of 140 meters, at a 20 minute distance from the sea and holds the 14th position in the hierarchy of the monasteries in Mount Athos.

At the end of the 14th century the monastery was passed to the jurisdiction of two Serb monks of Xiropotamou, Gerasimos Radoniios and Antonios Pagasis who rebuilt the Monastery since it had been destroyed by the looting of Catalans and managed to have it recognized again as the 18th in rank monastery referred to in the third Document of 1394. As an independent monastery it is mentioned for the first time from Xiropotamou on the official document of Patriarch Mattheos in 1401.

The first and most important benefactors were the family Vrankovich, bishops of Serbia, who undertook the construction of the Katholikon. The daughter of the family Mara, wife of Sultan Murat II helped towards the prosperity of the monastery with her offerings. She sent 'The Gifts of the Three Wise Men' which had fallen into the hands of the Turks. The prosperity of the Monastery Agios Pavlos lasted until the 16th century with the protection and assistance of the rulers of Moldova and Wallachia. In the 18 th century the monastery was in a critical economic situation and came out of this difficult position at the end of the century thanks to person in charge of the sacristy Grigorios. At the beginning of the 19th century Anthimos Komninos from Serbia was in charge the renovation of the wings and the Katholikon and donated many pieces of land. During the Greek Revolution the monastery was destroyed and remained without monks. Later thanks to the donations of tsars Alexandros I and Nikolaos I the reconstruction of the buildings was completed and the monks returned again. In 1902 a large part of the monastery was destroyed by fire while in 1911 it was destroyed by flood.

The Katholikon is commemorated on the 2nd of February on the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It was inaugurated on the day of Agios Georgios' celebration and it was built in 1817-1845. The Prothesis was built in 1902-1903 without any murals. The monastery owns approximately 10 chapels, such as the chapel of Agios Georgios with frescoes from the 15th century. It also owns 3 Cells in Karyes, 2 Sketes, the Romanian Sketi of Lakkou dedicated to Agios Dimitrios which consists of 2 Kalives and Nea Sketi.

The library contains only 500 manuscripts and 10,000 printed books of recent era.

In the sacristy there are the Gifts of the Wise Men, two pieces of Holy Wood as well as a diptych of enamel with the picture of Pantokrator which comes from the school Maas and it was made in 1200. Extremely valuable is a pastoral cross with pearls and 40 thumbnails. The precious pictures include those of Agios Georgios and Panagia Myrovlitissa.

Guests should visit the chapel of Agios Georgios, at the northern wing with the murals of Cretan School from1554, the part of the gifts of the Three Wise Men that are kept in the Katholikon and also the library with the handwritten codes from the 9th-10th century.

Each day, 100 Orthodox and 10 non-Orthodox male pilgrims are admitted for a three-night stay in one of the peninsula's 20 monasteries. Clergy and those who have a special invitation from the monasteries are excluded. Because of the small number of non-orthodox permits issued, if you are planning to visit Mount Athos you should run the necessary procedures the earliest possible. Women are not allowed to enter Mount Athos by law, and there is a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment for those who break it. Boys were not allowed in the past, but the policy has become more flexible over the years, and now boys can come if they're accompanied by an adult - usually their father.

To enter Mount Athos a permit is required for both individuals and groups. The permit is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Churches or by the Ministry of Northern Greece. Orthodox Greeks can apply by producing their identity card at the Athos Bureau in Ouranoupolis on the right side of the port. Diamonitiria (permits to stay as a pilgrim) are issued by the offices of the Athos Bureau, at Ouranoupolis. In order to get their diamonitirion visitors must show their identity cards and pay the sum of €25 for Orthodox visitors, €35 for non-Orthodox visitors or €18 for students. Foreign visitors also need a passport; if you are Orthodox but not Greek, you will need to prove this with a letter from a priest or a baptismal certificate. Foreigners can send an e-mail to a photocopy of the request along with their passport. Once you have secured your accommodation, you will need to contact the monastery that you wish by sending a letter to the guest request.

Once in Agio Oros, you can travel around. The hospitality at the monasteries is provided free of charge. Bed and board are offered to the holders of the permit. If you are planning to visit Mount Athos you should bring with you long sleeved shirts, long trousers, flashlight, athletic shoes and a flashlight. Bear in mind that the monastery doors close by sunset. Mobile phones and photo cameras are allowed, but DO NOT photograph the monks. Video cameras are not allowed. Swimming in the sea or listening to loud music is not allowed either. Follow the ritual during lunch and dinner. Everyone, visitors and monks enter the dining room and stand upright in front of their seat. The Abbot prays, gives his blessing, a bell sounds, and everyone sits down to eat without talking to each other. A monk reads ecclesiastic texts and in about 20 minutes the bell sounds for the second time. If you have or you have not finished eating, you must get up, the abbot prays and after he finish you can get out of the dining room.

The Mount Athos Pilgrims’ Bureau- Athos
Official Office
109 Egnatia str,
54635 Thessaloniki
Tel. for nationals +302310252575 Tel. for foreigners +302310252578 Fax +302310222424
Thessaloniki office hours: Monday-Friday 09:00 – 14:00, Saturday: 10:00 – 12:00