The well-known cell of the Annunciation of the Theotokos belongs to the monastery of Hilandar. It had been constructed in XI
century (about 1200), presumably by St. Savva.
Father Parthenius (Peter
Konstantinovich Gvozdev) was born on
June, 29th, 1840 in
St. Petersburg. Being twenty three years old he had arrived to the Sergiev
hermitage and 7 years later to the Mount Athos. The elder Makariy didn’t let
his novice to go to the Holy Mountain but after his death there was no other barrier on a way to the Mount Athos .
But the monk Parthenius was sad
realizing the fact that he went to the Holy Mountain without the elder’s
On the way to the
Holy Mountain Parthenius dozed off on the ship and saw the elder Makariy in his
dream. Parthenius had fallen to knees apologizing for going to the Mount Athos
without the elder’s permission. The elder didn’t say a word but kissed his
novice. It meant that he had forgiven the future Athos monk.
initially had arrived in Russik and wished to remain there, but on the divine
will the elders of the monastery did
not accepted him but blessed to address other athonite monasteries. At this time the celibate priest of
Russian monastery of Panteleimonas (Sapozhnikov) who have left notes that served as a base
for the book by Antonius Svatogorets «Athos devotees of piety of XIX century» was visiting athonite hermits on the blessing of the
elder Ieronimos. The great Russian elder asked him to gather
information on the Georgian celibate monk Ilarion, athonite confessor. As the assistant
he had elected the monk Vissarion, the apprentice of Father Theofan. Vissarion
knew Greek well and was familiar
with many local elders. Parthenius occupied Vissarion’s place as Theofan’s apprentice for a while but soon the
elder had learnt that a Russian monk Makariy was
ill and sent Parthenius to help him. Having read many books about hermits and
knowing the fact that many of them ate only ordinary grass,
Parthenius made a meal from the grass
he found near the cell. But after trying a bit of the meal he saw a beast at the doors of the cell but what seemed a door
to him turned out to be a window with a steep outside. Scared of the monster he
rushed to the “door” and fell in the steep. Amazingly, he did not die, just
harmed his legs and remained lame for the rest of his life.
Russian monk Pavel
living high up the mountains noticed a dying person in the depth of the steep
and informed the elder Makariy who was
already worried about his novice. When the elders saw the meal eaten by
Parthenius everything became clear. They had brought him to Hadji-Georgios. The
experienced elder gave Parthenius 3 glasses
of olive oil to stop the action of the poisonous meal. But the patient was too weak. With the permission of his mentor, father
Theofan, Parthenius was made a monk and then a miracle followed,
Parthenius didn’t die and recovered in two months.
The monk Parthenius
stayed on the Holy Mountain, he had not
chosen his road, the Lord has put
him on the Athos path. The new temptation followed – Parthenius made a decision to move to Panteleimonas monastery
but elder Ieronim told the Russian monk: «You should die where you became a
monk». Parthenius had to return to elder Georgios who had already had big
brotherhood of 40 Greeks, he was
elder’s only Russian novice and had to learn Greek. In the course of time the
other Russians arrived looking for elders like Georgios whose cell had the most
severe chart on Athos. The monks didn’t eat oil, wine, fish, cheese, eggs even
on Easter. Some elders accused Georgios
that many young novices died unable to cope with such a charter.
Following Hadji-Georgios death in 1886 Parthenius took his place. By that time
the brotherhood of Hadji-Georgios settled in the cell of the Annunciation of
the Theotokos having changed many places. The cell was
well-known for its publishing house and charity.
As well as many other Athonite cells the monks were engaged
in painting of icons and the cell had become famous for the icons not only in
Russia but also abroad. The icons painted by the monks of the Annunciation were
to be met in Berlin and even in America. The Archbishop of Riga thanked
Parthenius for the icons painted by his brotherhood for the church of St.
became legendary; he used to get 30 letters every day from Russian poor men.
With extraordinary naivety that can be met in children he found ways to feed
those who were hungry», - one of visitors of the cell writes. « Do not forget
poor and remember that the Lord will give you twice as
much if you give; remember that we poor inhabitants of the cell depend on
everything, on accidents but you are the person writing for newspapers. Don’t
write a lie »- these words said by the monk at farewell were especially
memorable to a pilgrim.
Parthenius was well-known far outside Mount Athos. He had sent four
icons with relics in Japan and received written gratitude from the prelate
Nowadays the cell of
the Annunciation belongs to the Serbian monastery
of Hilandar. The main building is recently restored.