20th c. Elders on Mt. Athos, the Greek Monastic Island - Excellent New American Book

For the First Time in English, a Collection of Sayings from Modern Athonite Elders



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In northern Greece, not too far from Thessaloniki, lies three peninsulae, the easternmost of which is Mount Athos; the Άγιον Όρος, the Holy Mountain, where generations of Orthodox monastics from all over the Orthodox world have spent their lives at ascetic labors.

A new book from Uncut Mountain Press sheds light on 24 “hidden lights” of the past century on Mount Athos. Translated from the original Greek, From the Ascetic and Hesychastic Athonite Tradition, the wisdom of 24 recent elders of the Holy Mountain is now made available in English for the first time and is currently a bargain at just $6.26 on Amazon.

From the back cover summary:

In the lives of twenty-four Athonite Fathers of the twentieth century the reader encounters heaven on earth, the Gospel in action, the continuation of the Incarnation. Following the Holy Fathers, these holy ascetics lead us on the Way and connect us to the clouds of witnesses gone before us. Their lives guide us on the path of repentance and their examples inspire us to divine ascent. As so many flowers beautifying the Garden of the Theotokos, the lives of these Hagiorite ascetics adorn the Church with their hesychastic way of life, ascetic struggles, patristic confession of faith, and heavenly visitations. Advanced and beginners, faithful and seekers, all alike will cling to these eyewitness accounts of contemporary angels in the flesh and men of heaven. This treasury of spiritual gems has been carefully gathered and guarded by Hagiorite desert fathers and now it is made available to you, the pious pilgrim on the path to paradise.

Some Background

Holy Tradition tells us that the origin of the Holy Mountain occurred when St. Lazarus of the Four Days, who by then was Bishop in Kition, modern day Larnaca, Cyprus, greatly missed seeing the Virgin Mary and sent for her to the Holy Land with a boat. She agreed to come visit him, but a strong storm blew them off course until they were deep in the Aegean, and she together with St. John the Apostle and others made landfall on Mount Athos. From there, our Lady, after converting the idolaters to Christianity and seeking Her Son’s blessings and protection for all those who, in the future, were to “fight the good fight of faith” (as monks and ascetics) on that mountain, sailed back to Cyprus.

Mount Athos as a place of monastics enters the historical record in the late 8th century, when the historian Genesios recorded that monks from Athos participated at the seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea of 787. In 958, the monk Saint Athanasios the Athonite arrived on the mountain and founded the Protaton, the large central church in Karyes, the capital. The next year he founded the Great Lavra, which remains the largest of the monasteries found on the Holy Mountain today.

Today, over a thousand years after Saint Athanasios’ labors, the Holy Mountain exists as a monastic republic of 20 monasteries, containing monks from all Orthodox countries and all over the world as well. Sacred to the Holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, to this day there is a ban on the entry of women onto the Holy Mountain. Male visitors are both restricted in number and must obtain a special entry certificate called a διαμονητήριον (diamonitirion).


It is not often that one finds collections of the sayings or deeds of recently living elders in the English language, so if one is interested in a special type of spiritual edification that comes from contemplating the lives and sayings of these monastic warriors, one would do well to read this book, which comes in at a very modest 242 pages.

A promotional video with more information is provided below, along with selections from the prolegomena.






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