Monday, August 20, 2012

Koutloumousiou Monastery, Mount Athos

The Monastery of Koutloumousiou is located on the north-eastern side of Mount Athos, very close to Karyes, which is the capital of the Athonite State, and is dedicated to the Transfigurations of the Saviour. 

The etymology of the name is in all probability connected with two phases in the life of the Monastery. A monastery with the name of Koutloumousi is mentioned in a document as early as 1169 and is to be identified with the one which bears that name today. Nevertheless, the second founder of the Monastery is thought to have been a certain Koutloumous, a member of a dynasty of the Seljuks converted to Christianity. The monastery’s existence is confirmed by a document dated in 1169 while the monastery in its current form was founded in the 14th century. It occupies the sixth rank in the hierarchical order of the twenty Athonite monasteries. It is inhabited by 73 monks (1990) and is coenobitic (communal). Its katholikon was built in 1540 and follows the plan of the other Athonite monasteries, in other words, it is rectangular, with a dome and is surrounded by apses. Its templon dates back to the 19th century and is considered to be one of the most magnificent of all the monasteries of Mount Athos.

Aside from the katholikon, the monastery features many chapels. The most impressive is the chapel of the Dread Protection of the Virgin, within the katholikon, to the left of eso-narthex, built in 1733 and houses the miraculous icon of the Virgin with the infant Christ. Other chapels are dedicated to the Saint Natalia, Saints Kosmas and Damian, All Saints, Saint John the Baptist, the Archangels and Saint Spyridon. Not just opposite of the Katholikon, but a little west, stands the refectory. Between the refectory and the katholikon there is the phiale for the blessing of the waters. To the monastery of Koutloumousiou belongs the Greek skete of Saint Panteleimon, very close to the monastery.

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