When the dark ages of pagan delusions passed, the light of the Gospel truth illuminated Athos soon after the ascension of the Lord. This is how the church tradition says: “When the holy Apostles in Jerusalem with the Matter of the Lord cast lots, to whom the country will get to preach the Gospel. The Mother of God came to the Iberian land (Georgia), but the Angel of the Lord announced to Her: You are expected cares for another land in which God will bring you. “
According to the legend, the Mother of God, accompanied by St. John the Evangelist, went to visit St. Lazarus the Four-Ageed, who became Bishop of Cyprus, but the ship lost its course during the storm and miraculously ended up off the coast of Athos, where the Iberian Monastery is now. She fell in love with the beauty of the peninsula, that she asked her Divine Son to give Her his inheritance. He happily gave this place to the Mother as Her “inheritance and garden, paradise and wharf of salvation.”
In one of the manuscripts, copied from ancient parchment and translated in 482 from Arabic into Greek, it says that when Constantine the Great wished to build a city near Mount Athos, the Mother of God appeared to the bishop of this region and said: “I chose this Mountain for My Sake”. Hearing these words from the bishop, the Emperor replied: “I do not want to challenge this land from the Blessed Mother of our Lord. If she wants this mountain to be inhabited by monks, I’ll get everyone out of here”.
The Emperor Constantine the Great built three churches at St. Athos Protat in Karey and two more churches in the places where the Mother of God descended to the shore and where she then returned to Jerusalem. All three churches were destroyed in the middle of the IV century by the Emperor Julian the Apostate.
The names of the first inhabitants of the Holy Mountain came to us – the Monk Peter of Athos (734), the Monk Euthymius of Solun (824) and the unknown monk Joseph. The Charter, signed by Emperor Basil I in 885, is also preserved, according to which Mount Athos belongs exclusively to monks. The shepherds and other laity were denied access to the peninsula. At the end of the X century, the Emperor Alexius Comnenus I extended the ban on visiting Athos for all women, and also prohibited the importation of female animals to the Holy Mountain.
In 1046, Emperor Constantine IX Monomakh formally established the name “Holy Mountain” behind the peninsula, which still remains today, along with the unofficial “Garden of the Blessed Virgin”. In the XI and XII centuries, the heyday of monasticism in the Holy Mountain is coming. At the same time, there were 40,000 monks on Athos, people of different nationalities – Georgians, Italians, Serbs, Moldavians, Wallachians and Russians – began to come to the Holy Mountain with the desire to join its spiritual wealth, which became known everywhere.
In the XIII century Athos suffered under the yoke of the Latin occupation (1204-1261), as a result of political pressure to reunite with Rome, and as a result of the predatory raids of the Franks. From 1305 to 1307 the monasteries of Athos were under siege, after this barbarous riot of three hundred monasteries and cells, only twenty-five survived. Many monks were tortured and killed.