Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou is in the South-East
of the Athos peninsula at a walking distance of 2 hours by feet from Daphni.
Xeropotamou is one of the oldest monasteries
one Mount Athos, but its early history remains obscure. Oral tradition identifies
the Empress Pulcheria as a founder of the monastery,
who lived in the 5th century, while another version regards the founders as the 10th century Emperors Constantine
VI Porphyrogennetus and Romanus I Lecapenus.
In the manuscripts and various documents there is some
obscurity about the name of the Monastery
and the personality of Blessed Paul, probably Xeropotamou's principal founder.
Paul was an ascetic
who was highly respected on the
Mount Athos, according to the myth he was
the son of Michael I Rhanghaves.
flourished until the 13th century, when in the years of Frankish rule, it
suffered from financial difficulties and pirate raids. However, it soon
obtained the assistance of Byzantine
Emperors, particularly after the fire of 1280, and with donations and
chrysobulls rights of ownership of the Monastery
was consolidated (13th - 14th
centuries). Other donations from the principalities of Wallachia and
Hungro-Walachia were the means of renewal and prolonged prosperity in the life
of Xeropotamou, and among its benefactors must be numbered the Sultan Selim I.
Like the other monasteries,
Xeropotamou has had periods of
decline. Two catastrophic fires in
the early 16th and 17th centuries and the burden of debt in the 18th brought it
to a low point. Between 1821 and 1830 the Monastery
was occupied by Turkish troops,
while in more modern times, in 1950 and 1973, it was
again damaged by fires.
Today the Monastery
of Xeropotamou occupies eighth place in the hierarchy of coenobia. In its
ownership are the port of Dafni and its six cells. The Monastery has
seven chapels inside its precinct and nine outside.
Treasures help within the monastery
The library contains 409 manuscripts and some 6,000
printed books. Among the treasures
of Xeropotamou are the paten of Pulcheria, made of steatite, relics of saints,
goldembroidered vestments, and priceless episcopal staffs, but its greatest treasure consists of two pieces of the True Cross, the
largest anywhere in the world, which have a hole made by one of the nails of
the Crucifixion. At present the Monastery
has about 25 benevolent and
Miracle-working icons within the monastery
the myth Theotokos of Tikhvin started
to shed tears on the 17th of February 1876. The Tsar Alexey II who was informed about the icon’s miraculous qualities
took it to the front during during Russian-Turkish war.