Philotheou monastery

It is located in the northeastern side of the Athonite peninsula, approximately two and half hours from Karyes. It is built at an altitude of 316m and is adjacent to that of Iviron. According to an 18th century tradition, it was founded before 972, by Philotheos, student of St. Athanasios the Athonite. It is mentioned in a lost manuscript of the 19th century, published by byzantinist Porphyrius Uspensky, that the monastery existed in 992. Historical data show that Emperor Nikephoros Botaneiates raised the building facilities (1078-1081). The expansion of the monastery continued in 1284 by Andronicus Palaiologos, a time when its Abbot was appointed the spiritual of the Palace. Records show the support from officials of the Empire such as the parents of Theodora Palaiologinas Philanthropinis, the uncle of Andronicus II, as well as the protovestiarios Andronicus Palaiologos.

The monastery acquired properties in the Strimonas valley and in Lemnos. In 1346, the fraternity of the monastery had the support of Serbian rulers. Around 1500, Georgian ruler Leontios, funded the extension and renovation of the monastery. Several Serbian monks settled in middle 14th century, and the monastery became peculiar in the 15th century. A milestone in its history was the 1871 fire that destroyed parts of the buildings.

In 1746, the Catholicon of the Annunciation was rebuilt over older foundations. Ruler of Wallachia Ghikas, financialy supported the rebuilt with an annual sponsorship. The murals of the main temple are of 1752 and the floor is covered with marble. The inner and outer narthex were hagiographed in 1765. The miraculous picture of Panagia Glykophilousa exists in a shrine. According to tradition, it is one of the 70 pictures painted by Luke the Evangelist. According to a newer tradition, monks claimed that the monastery had valuable relics such as a nail from the Crucifiction of Jesus, dedicated by Andronicus III. A manuscript copying workshop operated here in the 14th century.

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