Figures and Issues

 1. Skete of Prophet Elijah
2. Folklore Collection

1. Skete of Prophet Elijah

The interior of the kyriakon of the skete of Prophet Elijah where the magnificent, gold-covered iconostasis is dominant.
The skete of Prophet Elijah, a dependency of the monastery, dominates the wooded hills above it with its multi-storey buildings. It is located half an hour’s walk north-west of the monastery along an exceptionally beautiful path.

Shortly before the middle of the eighteenth century only a few kellia existed in this area. Among them was the kelli of Prophet Elijah which was enlarged by Blessed Paisy Velichkovsky and raised to the status to a skete. Blessed Paisy Velichkovsky, the most prominent figure of Slavic monasticism in his time, translated the Philokalia and spread the philokalic spirit around the Slavic world. He settled in the area of the monastery in 1746 and in a short time was able to attract around him a large number of monks, a fact that favoured the establishment of a skete functioning according to coenobitic principles. Although no evidence exists of a constitution governing the operation of that establishment as a skete, it was nevertheless recognized as such by the Ecumenical Patriarch Seraphim I who was staying in the monastery at that time. The growth of Velichkovsky’s brotherhood led him in 1762 to make the decision of moving to Simonopetra with his brothers and settling in that monastery, abandoned because of heavy debts. However after only a few months there, he himself was forced to leave it. Finally, after a short period spent back at the skete of Prophet Elijah, he left for Wallachia from where he was able to transmit a new spirit to Slavic monasticism.

After his departure, the monastery ceded the skete to Greek monks who changed its order to idiorrhythmic. It kept this status until the Greek revolution of 1821 when it was devastated. After the withdrawal of the Turkish garrison from Mount Athos in 1835, the Russian Monk Aniketos settled in the skete with a brotherhood of fifteen. There followed a period of controversy between the ruling monastery and the Russian monks of the skete, which ended in 1839 with the mediation of Mr Petroseski, the interpreter of the Russian consulate in Thessaloniki, and Constantine Spandonis. “A pact was concluded regulating the relations between the ruling monastery and the skete and which was ratified by the Holy Community.”

Skete of Prophet Elijah.

During the last decades of the nineteenth century, at a time when pan-Slavism was rife, the state of affairs changed in the skete when the Russian Dikaeos Tobias attempted to enlarge it and build a new kyriakon. Finally, after long legal arguments, Tobias succeeded in securing approval for the construction of new premises and the settlement there of 130 monks and 20 novices. In 1893 work on a new five-storey range was begun and in 1900 the Russian Admiral Virilof and Patriarch Joachim III laid the foundation stone of an imposing and luxurious katholikon. Nevertheless, the tension and the reaction to the plans of the Russian monks of the skete are reflected in the following remark of Gerassimos Smyrnakis: “In the end, the result was the development and expansion of a skete that was in fact a magnificent and populous monastery but was euphemistically called a skete in mockery of those who tolerated its existence.”

After a period of decrease and decline during the last century, the skete of Prophet Elijah was occupied again in 1992 by the devout and diligent brotherhood of the industrious Elder and Dikaeos Archimandrite Joachim (Karachristos), a fact signalling the start of a new period of sound administration and spiritual flourishing for the skete.