on Holy Mountain of Athos
in this, 1998 year the Chilandar Monastery celebrates its 800th Anniversary as
the Serbian Orthodox Monastery
MOUNT ATHOS, HOLY MOUNTAIN, AGION OROS
Mount Athos is a Greek peninsula and the sole independent monastic state in the world.
There are twenty inhabited monasteries on Mount Athos today, out of which seventeen Greek,
one Russian, one Bulgarian and one Serbian. The monasteries are housing more than one
The interior organization of Mount Athos is specific. The legislative authority is
exercised by the Holy Assembly, composed of twenty members, one from each monastery. The
executive authority is exercised by the Holy Epistasia, its member first in rank, or chief
monk, being called Protoepistates, whose term of office lasts for one year.
Mount Athos is under the protection of the Republic of Greece and under the care of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Holy Mount of Athos is also called The Garden of the Mother of God.According to
tradition, the Holy Virgin, Mother of God, after the Resurrection of Her Son, our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ, and after the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, set off
to testify to the Gospel and the deeds of Her Son. She was on her way to visit the
resurrected Lazarus (of three days) in Cyprus, when the Providence changed the course of
Her ship and carried it to the promontory called Akte at that time. The Mother of God
received a message from Heaven to start teaching the Gospel there, and a voice was heard
saying: "Let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a haven
of salvation for those seeking to be saved." Thus the Holy Virgin started to convert
the pagans to Christianity and to perform great and glorious deeds. From the peak of Mount
Athos She threw down into the sea the big statue of Apollo, thus freeing the inhabitants
of their idolatrous yoke. Then She gave Her blessings to this soil and assigned it to men
- the monks, who would sing here in praise of the Holy Trinity, Her Son and all the saints
thereafter, till the End of Time.
THE MONASTERY OF CHILANDAR
The Serbian monastery of Chilandar stands in a gentle valley in the northeast side of
theAthos promontory. Chilandar is one of the Holy Mountain oldest monasteries. In all
probability it was built in the late 10th century by monk George called Chelandari. It was
immediately dedicated to the Presentation of the Mother of God. The original monastic
settlement was abandoned because of many pirate and plunderer attacks. It was
reconstructed in the late 12th century by Serbian monks of noble origin, Symeon and Sava.
Before he entered the monastic order, Savas name was Rastko and he was the
youngest son of the Grand Zhupan Stefan Nemanya. He was only seventeen when he decided to
abandon the secular way of living. Shortly after that Sava moved to the monastery
Vatopedi. Here he waited for his father who had abdicated the throne in the meantime and
entered a monastic order at Studenica with the name Symeon.
Golden seal on Prince Lazar's charter to
St. Sava Chilandar hospital from 1379/80
He arrived to Mount Athos carrying sumptuous gifts for the Holy Mountain
monasteries. Symeon and Sava wanted to establish a Serbian monastery on Mount Athos. In
1198 they received Chilandar as a gift from the Emperor Alexios III, who also granted it
full independence. The gift was ratified by a chrysobull, where it was laid down that it
should be "a gift in perpetuity to the Serbs". During the same year Symeon and
Sava started to reconstruct Chilandar, assisted by Stefan, the second son of Nemanya and
heir to his Grand Zhupan throne.
In 1199 Symeon died in the uncompleted monastery, before the icon of the
Virgin Hodegetria. His original tomb was in the southwest part of the nave. A vine sprout
from it in a miraculous way, breaking through the wall of the church. In the same year the
Monk Sava founded a kellion in Karyes and dedicated it to his patron St. Sava of
Monastery changed its appearance in the late 13th century. With the permission of the
Byzantine Emperor Andronicos II Palaeologos, King Milutin had the old church brought down,
and a new one built instead. It was painted at the time of erection, but the frescoes were
repainted in the early 19th century. The exonarthex was erected by Prince Lazarus between
1375 and 1380. All the rulers of the sacrosanct Nemanyich Dynasty were generous
benefactors of the Chilandar monastery.
Their example was followed by other Serbian feudal lords, the families of
Mrnyavchevich, Brankovich, Lazarevich and others. The monastery also prospered thanks to
the assistance from the tzars of Russia, starting from Ivan the Terrible down to Peter the
Great, as well as the Wallachian rulers. At a later date the funds were provided by the
Serbian rulers of the Obrenovich and Karadjordjevich dynasties In Chilandar, which
represents the spiritual and cultural centre of the Serbian people, many valuable
treasures have been collected during the eight centuries of its existence. In the altar
area and treasury there are two crosses embodying fragments of the true Cross, and there
are also splinters from the Crown of Thorns, and the reed of Our Lord's Passion There is
also the Royal Door curtain embroidered in gold on silk by the nun Euphemia in 1399, as
well as the cup and flag of Tzar Dushan.
The monastery houses the oldest and the largest Serbian library of codices, illuminated
manuscripts, incunabulas, charters, chrysobulls and copperplates.Chilandar boasts the
largest number of miracle-working icons, not only on Mount Athos but throughout the
Christian world. The only Serbian monastery on Mount Athos now supports some thirty monks,
who follow the strict rules of the Chilandar Typikon written by St Sava.