On the land of the
Iveron monastery near to a cell of
St. Nikolay named "Bourazeri" there is a cell named after St. John
Chrysostom. This cell is considered to be one of the most ancient ones. The
year of its construction is unknown but according to some sources it’s more
than 600 years old. Till 1821 it belonged to Greeks and then it had passed in Russian hands.
Arseny was the first Russian superior of the cell. On the
boundary of the 20th century the brotherhood of the cell consisted of 26 monks headed
by the celibate monk Constantine Semernikov who was
the fourth Russian superior of the cell.
(Konon Vukolovich Semernikov) originated from the Don Cossacks, was born in 1842 in a Kochetovsky village. He had spent
twenty years from 1861 to 1881 on military service, participated in the suppression
of the Polish revolt in 1863 and in Russian-Turkish war 1877-78. He was among courageous soldiers who crossed flooded Danube
on the horses and occupied the Turkish coast
nearby Michin. After a capture of Plevna he was
responsible to accompany the captive Osman Pasha
who was well-known for his bravery. Father
Constantine had been awarded by several awards and medals and by the
certificate which had been given out on the highest command and gave him special
privileges on the state and military service. The war was
over and public service didn’t seem attractive to Father Constantine. He went
to Athos and was made a monk in the
Iveron monastery. In 1887 he becomes
the superior of the cell of St. John Chrysostom. He had spent his entire funds
on the renovation of the cell.
The glorious way
of the former soldier wasn’t over
yet. The Russian-Japanese war broke out and Father Constantine organised a
sanitary group of 53 monks and with the permission of the Red Cross helped
Russian soldiers on the battlefield. His contribution was
highly appreciated by the Russian Emperor. He was
awarded a medal on the Georgian ribbon. Subsequently the Emperor personally awarded
Constantine with a golden Cross from his office.
On August 26, 1913
Father Constantine died in hospital of the skete of St. Andrew.
Conditions in the
cell corresponded to the ideal of monastic
life more than in many other well-known cells. One of the pilgrims wrote: «...
The Life in Athos cells is immeasurably
better, than in the Russian monasteries.
Better not materially but spiritually, monks are living like brothers without
insults but like people united by the same idea, without trying to harm each
other, and on the contrary bringing benefit to each other and to the
brotherhood of the cell ». Such lines are written by an author after visiting
the cell and a conversation with the superior - celibate priest Simeon.
The monastery was
known for the wonder-working source which had opened in the XVII century on the
day of St. John Chrysostom.
Nowadays there is
a road from Karyes to the Iveron near the cell. Ruins of the temple restored in
1900 can be seen on that way. The temple and one of the buildings of the cell
were destroyed by fire presumably during the Second World War. The present
superior Father Mikhail preserved the books and the icons remaining of the
Russian monks. Cell walls are decorated with images of the Russian elder
Constantine whom Mikhail respects and worships. He also keeps the head of the
elder Constantine. On the second floor of the cell’s building that remained
intact he created a small temple. In an iconostasis
there are Russian icons which were rescued from the fire.