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Agiou Pavlou Monastery (St. Paul’s Monastery)


Near Dionysiou monastery, on the west side of Athos and close to the sea, inside an impressive gorge formed by the tall adjacent peaks we find Agiou Pavlou Monastery. According to tradition, the monastery was erected at the end of the 10th century by Paul of Xeropotamou, contemporary of St. Athanasius the Athonite, a spiritual man and hermit, the founder of Xeropotamou monastery. It is possible that Saint Paul retired from Xeropotamou monastery in some small cell in the area that gradually evolved to Agiou Pavlou monastery. The monastery will follow its own course and two centuries after its foundation, and possibly due to its desolation, will be demoted to a cell, thus losing the title of the cardinal monastery. In 1370 it will be relinquished to two Serbian monks, Gerasimus and Antonius who will painstakingly restore it back to its former dominant place. From then on and until the Ottoman rule the monastery will be assisted by Byzantine Emperors and Despots, as well as Serb rulers. Among its benefactors we also find Christian Princess Mara, daughter of Branković, wife of Ottoman Sultan Murad II and mother of the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmed II. Mara who kept, despite her marriage, true to her Christian faith, will donate money and dependencies to the monastery and later, after Constantinople fell, will bestow the gifts of the three magi upon the monastery, a holy relic and Turkish loot from the fall. The history of the monastery follows closely that of the other monasteries. It will suffer hard from raids and heavy taxation during the Ottoman rule. It will also succumb to fires and floods, all of which will bring it to a desperate financial state. The monastery will find solidarity in the rulers and believers of the countries on the banks of Danube and the greater space of Hellenism, who supported it financially and assisted it in expanding its building installations. The library of the monastery is home to 508 manuscripts, 14.000 printed volumes and several golden bulls, led bulls and patriarchic sigils. Worth noting amongst its many heirlooms are a piece of the True Cross, part of the gifts by the Biblical Magi and various icons, of great historic and artistic value. Its Catholicon venerates the Presentation of Chris at the Temple and celebrates on the 2nd of February.

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