Gregoriou monastery

The coastal monastery of Gregoriou is located in the southwestern side of Athos peninsula, between those of Simonopetra and Dionysiou. Sources indicate its existence since 1347, and St. Gregory of Sinai is recognized by the fraternity of monks as its founder. In 1500, it suffered raids by Agarian pirates and it was renovated by the sponsorship of Moldavian ruler Stephen. The north wing separating the courtyards, the bell tower and the tower were built in the 16th century.

The monastery was burnt in 1761 and was reconstructed with the sponsorship of hospodar of Hungarovlachia, under Abbot Joachim Makrygenis. Its sacristan, Joachim Arkanan emerged as the soul of the reconstruction. It saw days of poverty during the Revolution, and that is why the monks asked to make the monastery a dependancy of Megisti (Great) Lavra monastery. A new era began in 1859, when its Abbot, Simeon, paid off the depts of the monastery and raised new buildings.

After the 1761 fire, the relatively small Catholicon with its double narthex was built. It is dedicated to St. Nicholaos and was extended in 1840 with an outer narthex. It was hagiographed in 1779 by the Kastorian monks Gabriel and Gregory, with murals showing strong folk influences. The wooden “iconostasio” (icon‐screen) with scenes from the Bible, is considered to be one of the most valuable art pieces in Mount Athos. 297 manuscripts and 6.000 documents are kept in the monastery. There is a portable picture, of Panagia the Galaktotrophousa of the 17th century with a rare theme: It illustrates Virgin Mary breastfeeding Christ. Panagia “Palaiologina” is the patron picture of the monastery. Its inscription says: “Prayer of the devout Lady Mary Asanina Palaiologina, Lady of Moldovlachia”.

Text: Dr. Antonios G. Dikaios/ Theologian – Environmentalist.