Mt. Athos, August 5, 2019
Holy Mount Athos is home to 20 ruling monasteries, with a number of dependent sketes and cells. While the majority of the monasteries are in the Greek tradition, there is also a Russian, a Serbian, and a Bulgarian monastery among the 20, all of which are under the omophorion of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
A delegation of monks from the Great Lavra, St. Paul’s Monastery, and Xenophontos met with Pat. Bartholomew on Saturday to work out the schedule of his visit from October 19-22.
Recall that the attitude towards Pat. Bartholomew and the Patriarchate on the Holy Mountain has been sharply divided lately, especially in the wake of the Patriarchate’s interference in Ukraine, with some of the monasteries accepting and even serving with the schismatics of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), and other monasteries firmly rejecting them.
The majority of the holy habitations on the Patriarchate’s itinerary are among those that have accepted the Constantinople-created OCU.
Pat. Bartholomew will arrive at the Arsansas port on Saturday October 19, where he will be officially greeted by representatives of the 20 monasteries, after which he will visit Xenophontos Monastery. He will serve the Divine Liturgy the next day in the monastery’s cathedral, on the 200th anniversary of its construction.
Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos attended the enthronement of Epiphany Dumenko as primate of the OCU in Kiev in February, and it was a monk of Xenophontos that wrote out the tomos of autocephaly given to the schismatics in January. A schismatic “hierarch” later served Liturgy at Xenophontos in April.
The Patriarch will also visit Karyes, the capital of Mt. Athos, where he will venerate the Axion Estin (“It is Truly Meet”) Icon of the Mother of God, the monasteries of Vatopedi and Pantocrator, and the sketes of St. Andrew and the Prophet Elias.
Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi was also to have attended Epiphany’s enthronement in February under heavy pressure from Constantinople, though he suffered a heart attack upon arrival in Kiev. However, despite the abbot’s absence, another monk of Vatopedi did serve at the enthronement. The first schismatic delegation to visit Mt. Athos, in early February, reports that it served Liturgy at Vatopedi, though the monastery has reportedly taken a firm stance against the schismatics since then.
Pantocrator Monastery was the first to allow the schismatics to serve the Divine Liturgy inside its walls, during the February trip.
Conversely, according to a priest of the Russian Church who recently visited Mt. Athos, St. Andrew’s Skete has taken a strict stance against the schismatics, not allowing any visitors from Ukraine until the situation there is cleared up.
Additionally, while some outlets have reported that Pat. Bartholomew will visit the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery, which has strictly rejected the Ukrainian schismatics, he will, in fact, visit the Skete of St. Panteleimon attached to Koutloumousiou Monastery, whose Hieromonk Chrysostomos also attended Epiphany’s enthronement.