3. Recent History
On November 2, 1912 following
a long period of 488 years of enslavement, disgrace and misfortune,
the Holy Mountain was liberated by the Greek army in an atmosphere
of total joy and celebration by the monks. Since then, all the monasteries
on Mount Athos have associated their historical course with that
of the Greek state.
Hand-tinted photograph of the monastery’s
internal buildings. 1918.
However, after the devastation in Asia Minor, the monastery paid
its blood tribute to the great national calamity as its monk Joseph,
steward of the metochi of St Nicholas in Kydonies met a martyr’s
death at the hands of the Turks. In the years to follow, the monastery
lost its prosperous metochia in Macedonia, Thassos and Lemnos as
these were appropriated and given to refugees. To these problems
the monastery was already confronted with there was added another.
On December 1, 1948 a fire burnt the whole
of the eastern wing to ashes and would have destroyed much more
but for its miraculous extinction after a procession by the monks
of a small silver-bound copy of the monastery’s icon of Our Lady
Gerontissa (the Elder). This copy has recently been given the name
of Blessed Virgin Pyrosotera (“saving from fire”) by the monks.
During the following years, the operation of the idiorrhythmic system
combined with the depopulation of the monasteries (depopulation
being a common phenomenon on the Holy Mountain in the post-war period)
made the functioning of the monastery all the more problematic.
This unsatisfactory state of affairs lasted until May 1992, when
the order was changed from idiorrhythmic back to coenobitic.
The last ruling prohegoumenos of the idiorrhythmic monastery was
Priest-monk Euthymius Prepis from Magoulades in Corfu.
The oldest known photograph of the monastery. 1871.