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Thursday, 28 December 2006

Stavronikita monastery is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It is built on top of a rock near the sea near the middle of the eastern shore of the Athonite peninsula, located between the monasteries of Iviron and Pantokratoros. The site where the monastery is built was first used by Athonite monks as early as the 10th century. It ranks fifteenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries and currently inhabited by 40 monks.


normal_stavronikita88.jpgThe many conflicting tales of the monastery's name hint to the obscurity of its historical origins. In a document by the Protos Nikiforos dating back to 1012 there is the signature of a monk who signs as "Nikiforos monk from Stravonikita"  while in a 1016 document, the same monk signs as "from Stavronikita""). This alludes to the existence of a Stavronikita monastery as late as the first half of the 11th century. According to archaeologist Sotiris Kadas this means that the Stavronikita monastery was one of the monasteries that were founded or built during the first years of organized monastic life on Mount Athos.


Gregorios Giromeriatis expended great efforts to rebuild and expand the monastery. He built a surrounding wall, many cells, as well as the monastery's catholicon. After the death of Gregorios in 1540, the renovation was continued by Patriarch Jeremias himself out of love and respect for Gregorios.


The subsequent history of the monastery was marked by the fact that it always remained small in comparison to other athonite monasteries, both in property and in number of monks. Despite the repeated aid by the athonite community as well as by important benefactors, such as archon Servopoulos in 1612, the monk Markos in 1614, the people of Kea in 1628, Thomas Klados in 1630 and thePrince of Wallachia, Alexandru Ghica from 1727 to 1740.

The monastery's prosperity was endangered by three great fires in 1864, 1874 and 1879 that caused great damage. The monastery was rebuilt but the monks became largely indebted again which led to further decline. This situation was partly reversed by the efforts of the abbot Theophilos, a monk formerly from Vatopedi.The election of Abbot Vassilios and the reversion of the monastery to the coenobitic style greatly influenced the revival of monastic life at Stavronikita which thus obtained a new lease of life.


Treasures kept within the monastery

The hand of St. Anna, myrrh of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica, myrrh of St. Nicholas. The monastery also has a collection of 171 manuscripts, out of which 58 are written on parchment. Some of the manuscripts bear notable iconography and decoration.


Miracle-working icons within the monastery

agios_nikolaos.jpgThe icon of Saint Nicholas, known as "Streidas" (“the Oyster”) because when it was accidentally discovered at the bottom of the sea (thrown there by pirates in the 9th century and found in the 15th century), an oyster had stuck at the forehead of St. Nicholas. According to the athonite tradition, when the monks of Stavronikita removed the oyster, the saint's forehead bled.

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 December 2006 )
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