PUBLISHED BY THE GREAT AND HOLY MONASTERY OF VATOPAIDI MOUNT ATHOS 1993
Scholars regard the Holy and glorious Great Monastery of Vatopaidi as one of the finest masterpieces of Byzantium in the world in terms of its superb architecture, which blends into a geographical setting of the greatest beauty. Seen in relation to the deeply-rooted tradition of its thousand years and more of life, it is generally admitted by experts and scholars to constitute a face of the triptych of that race in which that culture was continued and concentrated in the post-Byzantine period -a culture which has already perfected the Parthenon, the expression of the essence of ancient Greece, and Aghia Sophia- the Church of Holy Wisdom – the centre of Byzantium’s greatness.
We glorify the Triune God and thank the All-pure Blessed Virgin, the Custodian and Protector of this sacred place and particularly of our Great Monastery, preserved by the Mother of God, that it has been vouchsafed to us, its latest inhabitants, three years after the restoration of coenobitic life, to offer to the members of the Church this modest publication for their strengthening and spiritual benefit, but also to acquaint them with this glorious heritage of the land of Athos. In this way, a fervent wish, often expressed insistently, of the host of pilgrims to our revered Monastery has been fulfilled.
The need for the publication of this ‘pilgrim’s guide’, which is also an introduction to the major publishing enterprise planned -with the help of God- by the Monastery, taking the form of a series of devotional, historical and academic works and publications dealing with the wealth of its inherited treasures, was appreciated by a number of our predecessors, Fathers noted for their learning, who, as can be seen from the works which they have left, studied our archives in depth, such as the Elder Arkadios of Vatopaidi, who was a pupil of St Nektarios at the Rizarian School and who wrote a lengthy and as yet unpublished account of the glorious history of our Holy Monastery, and the Elder Theophilos of Vatopaidi, who drew up a short chronicle of the Monastery. It is their work which we are continuing today, by the grace of God, in publishing this pilgrim’s guide, which is the work of the brethren of the Monastery.
We owe our thanks to the A.G. Leventis Foundation for the financing of the guide, in the form of the noble institution of the benefaction, which by this gift has demonstrated its sensitivity to the immense importance of the cultural heritage of our race and its faith in the Orthodox tradition as the only ark of salvation which can afford deliverance to modern man, who is tormented on the false paths which he has followed.
All those who have in any way assisted in the success of this publication are deserving of our thanks.
I conclude this prologue at Vatopaidi on the 23rd of April, the day of the commemoration of the holy and glorious saint martyr George the Trophy-bearer, in the year 1913.
Abbot of the Holy and Venerable Great Monastery of Vatopaidi