Sites & cities that bear the name of Monastic Republic of Mount Athos

Monastic Republic of Mount Athos

Today in : Greece
First trace of activity : ca. 7th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Aftónomi Monastikí Politeía Agíou Órous, Αυτόνομη Μοναστική Πολιτεία Αγίου Όρους, Άθως, Άγιον Όρος, Agion Oros, Αθωνική Πολιτεία, Athonikí Politía, Света гора, Света Гора, Sveta Gora, Святая Гора, Svyataya Gora, მთაწმინდა, mtats’minda, Muntele Athos, Ἀκτή, Acté, Akté

Description : The Monastic Republic of Mount Athos (Greek: Αυτόνομη Μοναστική Πολιτεία Αγίου Όρους, romanized: Aftónomi Monastikí Politeía Agíou Órous, lit. 'Autonomous Monastic Republic of the Holy Mountain') is a region of northern Greece comprising the Mount Athos peninsula, enjoying autonomous self-government, unlike the rest of the administrative regions of Greece. It brings together twenty monasteries and the different settlements that depend on them. They house around 2,000 Eastern Orthodox Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian and other monks who lead a life of seclusion, introspection and prayer, in a landscape on the mountain, sometimes called "Christian Tibet". The twenty monasteries are stauropegic, that is to say exempt from the authority of the local bishop and directly under the sole episcopal responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. On the political and administrative level, it is the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs which manages, on behalf of the Hellenic Republic, questions relating to the peninsula, which is a Greek territory, but where different laws apply, compatible with the Abaton: this difference is constitutionally guaranteed. The icon of the Mother of God called Axion estin which usually sits behind the altar of the Protaton church of Karyès, as hegumene of all the Holy Mountain, is occasionally shown at big Greek cities where it receives honors comparable to those reserved by a head of state. Since 1990, the Monastic Republic of Mount Athos has experienced a spiritual renewal thanks to a regular influx of young people, often graduates and from the former Soviet bloc, which dramatically increased the number of monks and novices. Initially, eleven monasteries followed the same rule of Saint Sabbas, common to Eastern Orthodox monasticism (cenobitic monasteries); in nine others the monks each formulated and followed their own rules (idiorrythmic monasteries). Between 1970 and 1990, all the monasteries finally adopted a cenobitic community system. The access of "any female creature" is strictly forbidden, so as not to tempt the monks; however, it is understood that this edict concerns only domestic vertebrate creatures, with two exceptions: cats to control rodents and hens for eggs to make egg tempera, the favored medium for icon painting, as well as for food. The territory of the Monastic Republic is contiguous to the Greek municipality of Stagira-Akanthos, from which it is separated by a fence of about nine kilometers long. The small village of Karyes is the administrative center and the seat of the synod: there, there are lay people in the service of the Republic.

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