Holy Mount Athos: the Cradle of the Jesus Prayer

Learn more about Mount Athos and its rich Hesychastic tradition
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In its millennial history to this day, Athonite monasticism, as a faithful expression of Orthodox monasticism, has retained its neptic and hesychastic character.

The 20th century has distinguished a large number of hesychast monks, who performed high neptic work and displayed admirable gifts. Men of great learning, such as the Elders Daniel Katounakiotis and Gerasimos Menagias; monastery abbots, such as Ieronymos Simonopetritis, Athanasios Gregoriatis, Filaretos Konstamonitis and Kodratos Karakallinos; simple monks, such as Kallinikos the hesychast; cenobitic monks, such as Saint Silouanos the Athonite, and his student Sofronios Sakharov, the monks Isaac and Arsenios of Dionysiou monastery, were also distinguished themselves as admirable workers of the noetic prayer in the desert or in the noisy life of large cenobitic monasteries. All these continued the hesychastic tradition of the Kollybades of the 18th-19th centuries and the hesychasts of the late 19th century.

Our age is not lacking in presenting selected representatives in the succession of neptic men in Agion Oros. The Elders Paisios the Agiorite, Porphyrios Kavsokalybitis, Efraim Katounakiotis, and Haralampos Dionysiatis are widely known. Their admirable contribution to the world did not hinder their neptic work. Rather, it presupposed it. The books which were lately written about them, and the living experience of those who knew them, are able to reveal in the most undisputed way that these blessed Elders were exceptional workers of the noetic prayer, and they accomplished the supernatural gifts of the Holly Spirit that follows it.

  1. Simonopetra Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  2. Chilandari Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  3. Dionysiou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  4. Pantokratoros Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  5. Philotheou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  6. Vatopedi Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  7. Grigoriou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  8. Iviron Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  9. St. Paul's Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  10. Stavronikita Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  11. Xeropotamou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  12. Dochiariou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  13. Esphigmenou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  14. Konstamonitou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  15. Karakalou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  16. Koutloumousiou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  17. Great Lavra Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  18. St. Panteleimon Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  19. Xenophontos Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece
  20. Zographou Monastery

    Mount Athos, Greece

In our days, many other, unrenowned hesychasts lived in the koenovia, the sketes and the kellia of Agion Oros. The contemporary literature of Agion Oros reveals, after they left the world, their life and neptic struggles. I will specifically mention the Elders Gerasimos Mikrayannanites and Modestos Danielides and the monk Auxentios Gregoriates. Among the “departed and yet surviving”, as Saint Maximos the Confessor would say, there are indefatigable maintainers of the sacred work of nepsis and of hesychia according to Christ at Agion Oros. They, even today, receive heavenly gifts in “fasting, wakefulness and prayer”. It would not be right for our personal experience of them to become public before their passing. The Athonite prudence does not permit haste on this matter. In spite of this, even today, these neptic workers become a pole of attraction of God-friendly souls, in other words of the monks who desire nepsis and prayer.

But beyond these Fathers, whose life is testified as neptic and hesychastic, is the entire Athonite climate, which follows the neptic tradition of Agion Oros. The current generation of monks was nurtured by a series of neptic readings, such as the Philokalia, Evergetinos, Abba Isaac the Syrian and the lives of the old neptic Fathers. Today, monks know the lives and teachings of the sacred neptic figures and they strive to follow them. The writers of St. Silouanos the Athonite are a typical example.

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Online readings about Mount Athos
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The first visit of the Theotokos to Mount Athos
The first visit of the Theotokos to Mount Athos
(mentioned by codices L' 66 and I' 31 of the
Library of Great Lavra Monastery)
source: Full of Grace and Truth
Recommended books about the Holy Mountain
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The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
An acclaimed expert in Christian mysticism travels to a monastery high in the Trodos Mountains of Cyprus and offers a fascinating look at the Greek Orthodox approach to spirituality that will appeal to readers of Carlos Castaneda. In an engaging combination of dialogues, reflections, conversations, history, and travel information, Kyriacos C. Markides continues the exploration of a spiritual tradition and practice little known in the West he began in Riding with the Lion. (...) In his new book, Markides follows Father Maximos, one of Mount Athos's monks, to the troubled island of Cyprus. As Father Maximos establishes churches, convents, and monasteries in this deeply divided land, Markides is awakened anew to the magnificent spirituality of the Greek Orthodox Church. (...)
Bookshop & ReviewsBook details
  • Author: Kyriacos C. Markides
Multimedia Archive
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Monasticism is a great honor and blessing which the Lord has given to man. It is only very slowly that the monk comprehends its deeper meaning. This makes him feel a real delight. He does not stop giving praise and thanks to the Lord. He feels the great honor which has been done to him. It is a little difficult for someone to appreciate the greatness of this calling. The monks live the life of the angels' right from this life that's why they are called the 'Angelic order'. The monk embarks on tasting some of the pleasures of the Heavens only after long trials and the buildup of spiritual fruit. He feels grateful to the Lord to the end of his days through humility, repentance and God's grace.
St. Paisios
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The lives and teachings of Athonite Elders & Hesychasts
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The monk must imitate Christ because he loves Him. He is the bridegroom of his soul. He must imitate Him, in His total obedience. It is because of His enormous love that Christ descended from Heaven, was born in a cradle, obeyed our Lady and Joseph and has shown obedience until His death, a death on the Cross. Obedience means humility. The monk should obey not only older people but also those that are younger than him. The monk must cultivate devoutness. He seeks anonymity and abhorrence. He seeks the Lord and our Lady if he desires love and affection and not other people. He detests arrogance and constantly tries to increase his love towards the Lord and his neighbor. Because he lives spiritually, he feeds on the Lord's love and nourishes other people with it.
St. Paisios
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