Konstamonitou (or Kastamonitou) monastery is located in the western side of Athos, on a green slope near Siggitikos bay. According to tradition, its founders were Constantine the Great and his son Konstas. According to written testimonies, it was founded in middle 11th century. Its name is connected to an original settler who came from Kastamoni of Paphlagonia, or to a member of the byzantine family of Kastamonians.
In the 14th century it was burnt down by Catalan pirates and its reconstruction took place in 1433 thanks to the offers of queen of Serbia, Anna the Philanthropist, ruler George Vrankovic and commander Radic who came here to become a monk named Romanus. The monastery attracted many Slavic-speaking monks and its prosperity lasted until approximately 1500. The 1717 fire led to its decline and it was reestablished as cenobium in 1818 with funding from Ali Pasha and later from the intervention of famous Kira Vassiliki.
The Catholicon was built in 1867 according the Athonite type over the foundations of an older temple. It has 8 lead covered domes. It is dedicated to St. Stefanos and has no murals. The miraculous picture of Virgin Mary Antifonitria is located inside. A characteristic heirloom and exceptional sample of epirotic silversmithing, is the silver coated Gospel of 1820. According to tradition, it is a gift of Kira Vassiliki.
Text: Dr. Antonios G. Dikaios/ Theologian – Environmentalist.