The most prominent of all Orthodox faith commences at the sacred Monasteries of Agion Oros and where Mount Athos protrudes amongst all with divine glory. It is the sanctuary, with which herritage and the hermitage of which all Orthodoxy and Christianity through all of the epochs of mankind have engrossed pneumatically and internationally all worshippers to its Holy shrines.
It is situated on the coastal peninsula of Halkidiki marking its historic establishment in 1052. During the four-hundred years of Ottoman occupation, many of the monasteries were seized and destroyed as also many monks and Christians who became victims of the barbaric means of execution. Many were beheaded due to their faith and who were impertinent to not betraying their faith and Christians who were protected in underground shelters in the monasteries.
During the Ottoman occupation, reinforcement of injustice towards Orthodox Christian faith was very dominantly executed thus prohibiting children in attending education in schools.
In order to save and support the young generation of young children, the monks had invented and built secret passages within the monasteries which would help secure them but also tutoring them with ecclesiastical hymns, liturgies and the Greek language.
These were the ‘Secret Schools’ which children attended in order to avoid becoming enslaved or becoming janissaries. It is very unfortunate during the latter years of Christianity, till the current years, that one undeniably notices blasphemy, disrespect modernism, uncultivated minds whom do not understand the essence of the purity of Agion Oros and as to why it is referred to as the ‘Avaton’, surface ignorance but also incompetence in their attitude.
Mount Athos, has a history of centuries well before the Ottoman’s occupation and it is recognised globally as the Holy Sanctuary, with Mount Athos where the Virgin Mary’s orchard is called: ‘Το περιβόλι της Παναγιάς’ to which monks honor, pray and fast for mankind’s repent, remorse and forgiveness.
The wonderful orchard of the Virgin Mary, solemnly protrudes amongst all the monasteries which surround it and it is the Mother of Christ who is the only representative of the female gender to enter due to purity.
The British monarchs, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles have often till today visited Agion Oros and in fact have become Orthodox due to the fact that Prince Phillip is of Hellenic origin. On no account, had Prince Phillip or Prince Charles complained about the denial or restriction of their Majesties’ wives not being permitted to visit the Holy Agion Oros monasteries. Therefore there are restrictions that must be abided by as to protect from sacrilege and to maintain the sole traditions consigned for centuries.
For many centuries and through endangered epoch, the historic emblem of the monasteries has achieved the difficult task of stabilising Christianity from the intervention of alienated resources and have retained their divine knowledge through different manuscripts.
Even more so today, as Greece is under the worst influence of annihilation they withstand with their constant faith and prayer for our salvation. Every monastery has currently technological means of communication with which citizens who chose to comply or to seek information concerning religious thematic queries will be enlightened most willingly by the monks.
The monasteries have developed many interesting features through which nature has invested such a plethora of herbs. They cultivate herbs and recognise botany and from the chronological experiences cultivate many therapeutic organic creams and health products which are remarkably beneficial for many allergies and ailments.
What must be clarified, is the fact that the herbal products are not a business trade whatsoever since the lest money which is received is for the restoration of the monasteries and to which the monks themselves restore.
Another interesting fact, which most may not recognise is the fact that the monks have kept ancient Byzantine recipes which have been recently acknowledged and admired from other Mediterranean countries as being amongst the healthiest since the dietary ingredients used to help establish healthy hearts and metabolisms.
May all who believe and have faith be blessed and to those who do not, seek for their enlightenment since all have the spark of seeking within and have the choice of repent.
By Chrysanthe Ntemos