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Φωτογραφίες Μονής

Monastery Megistis Lavras

At the southeastern part of Aghion Oros, where the Athos Mountain gently slides down to the sea, in 963, Athanassios the Athonian founded the Megistis Lavras abbey. The emperor Nikiphoros Phokas provided the money for this ambitious plan, in order to help his friend Athanassios to gather the hermits at this abbey. A king’s order secured regular funding for the abbey from the island of Limnos, as well as from Peristeron abbey at Thessaloniki, which also joined the abbey of Lavra.

The main temple dates back to the 10th century. Its excellent wall –paintings which date back to the beginning of the 16th century were painted by the famous artists Theophanes from the island of Crete. At one of the abbey’s chapels, which is named in honor of the Forty Saints, lies the grave of St. Athanassios, whose memory is celebrated on the fifth of July. The Saint’s relic is in a coffin and seven-oil candles are lit near by day and night. In the same chapel, two rare icons are kept. One of them is the one of Jesus Christ while the other, is of the Virgin Mary who is called Economissa.

Besides the main temple, Lavras abbey has thirty-seven smaller temples. In the temple of St. Athanassios, we can see the iron rod with which St. Ahanassios, crossly hit a stone, and as legend tells us, water poured from it. We can also see his iron cross, which weighs four kiols and which St. Athanassios kept hanging from his neck while he conducted his long divine services. Another important chapelis one of Koukousellisas, where the famous miracle involving the choir-leader John Koukouselli took place in the 12th century. To the west of the main temple’s entrance, stands the altar, which has very important wall-paints and an excellent decoration. It is divided in three zones. In the first one, we can read the 24 verses of a famous hymn. In the middle one, we can read the 24 verses of a famous hymn. In the middle one, we can see several scenes from the life and tortures of the monks and at the lower zone; we can see the full frames of saints, monks and hermits, who are highly honored by the monks of Athos.

We can also see here the root of Iessai, the “ancient sages”, Thales, Solon, Socrates, Philon, Galenos, Cleanthes, Aristotle and others. The main characteristic of these pictures is that they are highlighted by bright coloring and tones.

The treasury and the wealthy library lie behind the main temple. There, knowledge and treasures from every possible source are gathered in order to enlighten the future generations. In the vestry, we can see among the other treasures, the sac of emperoro Nikiphoros Phokas, which weighs six kilos, and has precious stones and roses of nany colors. The emperor’s crown, a gospel decorated with precious stones, portable icons, a quiver with poison arrows from ancient years, a piece of wood from the Holy-Cross, relics of several saints, riffles from the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Turks, amulets, chalices, wood sculptured icons, sacerdotal vestments, e.t.c. The library contains 2.200 codes, 470 of them are on parchments (10th -14th century), 50 on membranes and 10.000 prints.

Also situated there, are the graves of three Patriarchs and hundreds of portable icons of great value, which are kept in reserve for a chapel near the grave-sight. Today, the abbey is a peculiar one. On the first day of every month, sanctification is conducted between the main temple and the altra. The Skites of St. Anne, Kafsocalybion, Timiou Prodromou (Rumanian), the small skite f St. Anne, Carulia Carulia, Catunakia, St. Basil and Provata all belong to the abbey of Lavra.