Saints of Athos Monasteries


Monk Athanasios of Athos – the founder of the Great Laura was born in the city of Trapezund and was baptized and named Abraham. His parents soon died, and the child was brought up by a pious nun, a friend of his late mother. Having received a good education in Constantinople, he went to the monastery of Kimin in Asia Minor. In vows he received the name Athanasius. The monk secretly left Kimina for Mount Athos and began construction of the first church in honor of John the Baptist. Soon the second temple was built, which was consecrated in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.

While Athanasius and his brother were building a monastery, they had a crop failure and famine began. Monks, who gathered in large numbers at the Monk Athanasius, suffering from hunger, began to leave the monastery. The Monk Athanasius was left alone without a single crust of bread when he left the Lavra. On the way to Karey he sat down to rest, and to his amazement saw the woman coming towards him. Athanasius rosed to meet her, and she said: “And you leave a monastery for the sake of a piece of bread, which is destined to become famous in the next generations? Come back and I will help you. I am the Mother of God, the One to whom you will dedicate this monastery and entrust your earthly life, and eternal salvation“. She commanded him to strike with his iron staff on the stone that layed at her feet. The stone immediately split, and pure water poured out of it. That water flow is poured out to this day. In the centuries that have passed since that time, many suffering and sick people have been healed by its waters.

With those who prayed for the intercession of St. Athanasius after his death, miracles took place. His relics now rest in the chapel of the Forty Martyrs in the Great Laura.

Monk Nil the Myrrh-Streaming was born into a family of Christians in the town of Ayios Petros on the peninsula of Peloponnesus. He was orphaned early and brought up by his uncle, Hieromonk Macarius. Uncle and nephew craved a more solitary life, and so in 1615 went to the Holy Mountain. Where they settled, now stands the monastery of Kavsokalivia. They bought from the Great Lavra a suitable piece of land in a deserted place and, having cleared it of vegetation, built a cell and a small church in honor of the Mother of God, the Monk Peter and the Monk Athanasios (Athos). When Father Makarios rested, Neil, seeking seclusion, found himself a cave in a rock in a place where people almost never appeared. Father Nil began to live there alone, in fasting and prayer. In his dwelling he erected an altar in honor of the Meeting of the Lord.

Reverend Nile during his lifetime avoided human glory, so the Lord glorified him after his death. Soon after his death, his body, dedicated to God from youth, and consecrated by fasting, prayer and penitential crying, began to exude a odoriferous mirro. Mirro poured out through a small hole in a sealed tomb in such quantity that not only escaped from the cave, but also streamed down the rock. For dozens of years Christians have received this Mirro as if from the right hand of Christ Himself and were healed by them from bodily ailments.

Many years later, when the Reverend Nile’s relics ceased to form a myrr, they were transferred to the Holy Monastery and transferred the particles to other monastic monasteries in Athos.

Monk Simeon and Lord Sava (father and son) are one of the greatest saints of Serbia. They worked hard to restore the Hilandar monastery, practically rebuilding it. Monk Simeon was buried in the monastery two years after its foundation. The body of St. Sava was reburied in the Serbian monastery of Mileshevo. In 1595, a rebellion broke out in Serbia and the rebellion, known as the Rise of St. Savva, was brutally suppressed. As an act of revenge, the Turks betrayed to public combustion the relics of St. Sava.

Both of the monks of the Serbian Church ranked as saints soon after their deaths. From the stone under the grave of St. Simeon grew a vine, which has since given the grapes. This grapes are taken as a cure for diseases and infertility.

Святитель Нифонт принял священство на Святой Горе в монастыре Дионисиат. За благочестие и добродетели в 1486 году он был избран Патриархом Константинопольским. Святитель Нифонт дважды всходил на Патриарший престол и в общей сложности находился на нём четыре года. После, находясь в Андрианополе, он получил приглашение проповедовать румынам, объясняя необходимость отказа от унии с Римом. Влияние святителя Нифонта было так велико, что он, действуя почти в одиночку, убедил целую страну вернуться на твёрдо православные позиции. Его почитают как человека, благодаря которому сохранилось Православие в Румынии. Его мощи пребывают в монастыре Дионосиат, и только глава и десница – в румынском монастыре Куртеа де Аргес, где каждый год торжественно отмечают день его памяти.

Saint Niphon received the priesthood on the Holy Mountain in the monastery of Dionysius. For piety and virtue in 1486 he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. St. Nifont twice ascended the Patriarchal throne and in total was on it for four years. After, while living in Andrianopol, he received an invitation to preach to the Romanians, explaining the necessity of giving up the union with Rome. The influence of Saint Nifont was so great that he, acting almost alone, convinced the whole country to return to firmly Orthodox positions. He is venerated as a man, thanks to which Orthodoxy has been preserved in Romania. His relics reside in the monastery of Dionosiat, and only the head and right hand – in the Romanian monastery of Courtaa de Arges, where every year solemnly mark the day of his memory.

Monk Paisii (Velichkovsky) comes from Little Russia. To him was given the monastery of the holy prophet Elia, who was in possession of the monastery Pantokrator. To St. Paisius more and more students came, and the monastery Simonopetr was transferred to him, but because of excessive taxes to the Turks, they had to go to Moldova. Here Father Paissy soon became known as one of the most experienced confessors of his time. He restored and fortified the local monasteries of Dragomirna, Syakul and Nyamets. He corrected and re-translated the ancient patristic texts, which in translation in the Slavonic before him were unreadable, and made it possible to spread the book “Philokalia” in Russia. After his death in 1794, many of his Russian students returned to their native places and brought to Russia a seed of spiritual life, from which the generations of the Optina elders grew up.

Monk Nicodemus the Hagiorite is one of the most famous Athonite fathers of later times (1749-1809). He collected and corrected many patristic texts, wrote many of his works, becoming one of the greatest contemporary authors on the topic of Orthodox spirituality. In less than thirty years, he created 28 voluminous tomes, a huge number of small treatise – almost unremitting work, indicating the talent of the researcher and the incarnated grace of holy life of this man. His academic talent did not alienate the reverend from those around him. He was simple in manners and patient, sweet and kind, free of passions and not scattered. He lived for thirty-four years in a feat, gaining inner silence. He had one cassock and a pair of sandals, he ate almost exclusively rye grain, beans, honey, olives and bread, often prayed at night, and after such training he became a compassionate, beloved people confessor.

One of the astounding features of his life was his constant movements. He lived in many places on the Holy Mountain, sometimes trying to get close to those monasteries where were texts which he needed for work. He lived where his work or circumstances brought him. Thus, he had no permanent home and was called “Nicodemus the Hagiorite”.

Monk Nicodemus peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on July 14, 1809, at the age of sixty. He was buried in the cell of Skutalos, where he died. There still holds his head, exuding an magnificent fragrance. He was canonized as saints in 1955.