Monastery is on the southwestern side of the peninsula.
Dionysiou ranks fifth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos and is dedicated
to St. John the Baptist.
Dionysius Monastery was
founded in the fourteenth century by St. Dionysios of Koreseos. The golden bull
(chyrsobull) authorizing the founding of the monastery
was signed in 1374 by Alexios II
Comneno. A treasure, the bull is
kept in the monastery. Construction
proceeded with financial aid from emperor Alexios III Comnenos.
The monastery is built along the western coast of the peninsula on a rocky cliff high above the
sea and overlooking a deep wooded ravine. In 1535, the monastery was
swept by fire destroying it. Reconstruction began quickly and by 1547 the
principal church of
the monastery, the katholikon, had been built and painted with several murals by
the Cretan painter Tzortis. A golden iconostasis was added in the eighteenth century. Around the
katholikon are number of chapels including
one that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Inside the monastery
walls, a 25 meter
high (80 feet)
defensive tower was built in 1520.
The tower was used periodically for
safe keeping of the monastery's
library. A dynamic community of monks now
inhabits Dionysiou and has
undertaken the job of renovating and redecorating the older buildings.
The Abbot of
the monastery since 1989 is Petros,
the monastery is inhabited by 45
The monastery library contains many old documents,
including 804 codices and more than 5,000 old printed books. Among the holdings
are Gospels from
the eleventh century as well as chrysobulls (golden bulls) and manuscripts. Among
these manuscripts is an illuminated Gospel from the thirteenth century.
relics of St. Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, are housed in a special
crypt in the katholikon.
Miracle-working icons within the monastery
The icon of Theotokos (Myrovlitissa) is considered to
be one of 70 icons belonging to Luke The Evangelist. It’s painted with wax and
mastic. Akathist to Theotokos is read daily in front of the icon. According to
the myth it was carried around the walls of Constantinople during it’s siege by
Arabs in 626. The icon also was also in the avant-garde of Michael VII Paleolog
army. The icon was granted to the monastery by the Emperor Alexey III of
Trapezund (1337-1390) in honour of it’s
In 1592 the icon was abducted by the pirates but they
had to bring it back because of the
storm. In 1767 the icon was stolen again by the bandits from Dalmatia. The
Greek shepherds captured them and transferred the icon to Skopelos whose
inhabitants didn’t wish to give the icon back to the monastery but had to do it
after the epidemy developing on the island.