Graham Speake, Kallistos Ware
TAMARA GRDZELIDZE. The Georgians on Mount Athos
The Myth of Iviron
The period when the presence of Georgians had an influence on the Holy Mountain is a comparatively limited one. From as early as the second half of the twelfth century there were two communities in Iviron: Georgian and Greek. The Greeks worshipped in the church of St John the Baptist in Greek, the Georgians celebrated the Liturgy in the main church or katholikon. Both communities participated in the election of an hegoumenos (abbot), and by the mid-thirteenth century we already find the first Greek hegoumenos signing acts on behalf of the whole monastery.42 It was in 1357 that the Georgians officially lost their monastery after Patriarch Kallistos I of Constantinople signed a document saying that Iviron was no longer in their possession. Nevertheless Georgian monks continued to be present in the Greek-run monastery until the nineteenth century when a group of Georgian monks was expelled from the monastery. The last Georgian monk in Iviron died in the early 1950s.
In the mid-1970s a small Georgian delegation visited the Holy Mountain and, although they were unsuccessful in their attempts to film Iviron, they were able to make microfilms of the Georgian manuscripts in the library. Today there are a few Georgians scattered across the Holy Mountain, for example at the monastery of Xeropotamou, where there are possibly three monks, and Hilandar, where a novice was registered a few years ago, as well as in Vatopedi and Zographou. Several Georgians have also been hired as workers, for example at the monastery of Dionysiou not far from the cell of Hilarion the Georgian.43 This we know through visitors’ accounts.
Today Iviron is in every sense a Greek monastery. Its Georgian origin is not always mentioned when a guided tour is given. On the other hand, the present inhabitants have expressed disquiet at the regular stream of visitors from Georgia who may show up unexpectedly and create an unwelcome disturbance over their special connection with Iviron. It is difficult to blame the modern Georgians for adopting such an attitude, even though it is of no relevance in practical terms. After all, Iviron became one of the most precious symbols of Georgia’s Church and culture as well as playing a critical role in the political life of the Georgian people during a significant period of their history. The story of Iviron, as it is known and told by the Georgians today, may seem shrouded in myth. However, when it is demythologized by means of facts and documents, full credit must be given to the monastery as a remarkably powerful symbol for a nation as small as the Georgians.
Nationalism in a country like Georgia is an undesirable but inevitable phenomenon. For centuries the Georgians have struggled for survival as a nation and a state, suffering under the yoke of colonialism and totalitarianism, and they have become extremely defensive as a result. For the Georgians, any reading of their history has become a ritual of recalling their past glory, not because they have forgotten the endless wars and invasions, but precisely because of the painful memory of these lost battles. The survival of the nation has itself become a matter of honour. Under these circumstances nationalism in the Church is another inevitable result of the past centuries of oppression and struggle. And since symbols such as Iviron are not numerous in the history of the Georgian people, its past glory resonates strongly in the memory of the people. To understand these claims today, however, one must concentrate on the tenth and eleventh centuries.
The sources used for this essay are mainly the Lives of the three hegoumenoi of Iviron, John, Euthymios, and George: The Life of Our Blessed Fathers John and Euthymios and Their Worthy Citizenship as Described by the Poor Hieromonk George (the Hagiorite), and The Life and Citizenship of Our Holy and Blessed Father George the Hagiorite, described by George the Minor.44 The Lives provide evidence for approximately one hundred years of history on Mount Athos with glimpses into court life in Constantinople during the period from the reign of Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (963–9) to that of Constantine X Doukas (1059–67). We have also the Book of Synodikon,45 and the four volumes of Actes d’Iviron, published in 1985, 1990, 1994, and 1995 by Jacques Lefort, Nicolas Oikonomidès, Denise Papachryssanthou, and (later) Vassiliki Kravari with the collaboration of the late Helen Metreveli.46 There are also a number of valuable colophons from Georgian manuscripts originating from Iviron as well as from other monasteries in Tao-Klarjeti (south-east Georgia). The latter were copied for the purpose of providing manuscripts for the newly established Iviron. These colophons together with the Book of Synodikon from Iviron contain some significant information about the Georgian monastery on Mount Athos.
From the sources that are available to us today, whether published documents or critical writings, it is clear that from the late tenth to the early twelfth century Iviron was one of the strongest and most influential monasteries on Athos. During this period it took a leading role in providing new trends in Georgian church writings and correcting existing texts.
The Georgians started arriving on Mount Athos in the decade of the 970s and immediately acquired a certain authority which they managed to maintain for more than one hundred years. The reason for their authoritative presence on the Holy Mountain was a combination of personal contacts with the imperial court and with St Athanasios, the founder of the Great Lavra, and the capacity of the Chordvaneli family in Tao-Klarjeti to provide material and moral support. The Georgians foresaw the special role that Iviron could play in the spiritual and political life of Georgia and supplied the monastery with material goods as well as experienced or talented monks.
The main reason for this successful start lay in the personal friendship between John the Iberian and St Athanasios the Athonite. They may have first known each other through a Pontic connection: Athanasios’s mother is believed to be from Pontos and John’s family also had links there. Athanasios had a great respect for John the Iberian and fully supported the presence of the Georgians on the Holy Mountain.
The typikon of the Great Lavra mentions that Athanasios gave to John the Iberian on his arrival on the Holy Mountain first a shelter and then some kellia not far from the Lavra. These were to remain in his possession and that of his successors (probably no more than eight monks) for the duration of the alliance between the Georgians and the Lavra. The kellia could not be sold or given to anyone else, as the Life of Euthymios confirms:
Thus, in the company of his son and a few disciples, [ John the Iberian] went to the Holy Mountain, to the Lavra of the great Athanasios, and asked for shelter. He kept himself unrevealed and obediently did everything with humility and peacefully. For two years or more he served as a cook. […] After a certain period of time, their presence on the Holy Mountain became known and the number of Georgians began to increase there, and when this became clear to our fathers, who were filled with all manner of wisdom, they decided: ‘It is not fitting for us to stay in the monastery because others come to stay and it is not possible to send them back.’ Thus by the decision of Athanasios, at one mile distance from the Lavra, in a beautiful unsettled place the above-mentioned fathers built the church of St John the Evangelist with a number of cells and stayed there for many years as angels of God.47
The distribution of land on Mount Athos changed in the second half of the tenth century with the establishment of large monastic settlements together with their estates and farming economy where previously there had been only scattered cells and hermitages. The rule on the Holy Mountain was to assign property for temporary possession for a fixed term, sometimes up to twenty-nine years, without the possibility of selling or gifting it to anyone else. Although this practice was condemned by Patriarch Lukas in 1164, it continued until the fourteenth or fifteenth century.48 This was the arrangement when the first Georgians received temporary possession of their kellia from Athanasios.
The building of Iviron, however, came later, in 981–3. In the war waged against the revolt of Bardas Skleros the Georgian monk John – the former general Tornikios – led an army against the rebel general and contributed to the emperor’s victory over him in 979. In return for the victory John Tornikios received a vast amount of treasure and used it for building a monastery. It was the wish of the founder John that the monastery should become a dwelling place for Georgians, and one of his decrees was that hegoumenoi should be elected from the Chordvaneli family (to which he belonged) in Tao-Klarjeti.
Politically speaking, David Kouropalates, the prince of Tao, who contributed to the stability of the empire by providing an army in the fight against the rebel general Bardas, for his part supported the foundation of Iviron. The members of the Chordvaneli family who founded Iviron together with John Tornikios and John the Iberian were well connected in Constantinople and were quick to seize the opportunity of obtaining support for Iviron.
In documents from the time of its foundation, Iviron was always referred to as a lavra or monastery of the Georgians/Iberians – mone ton Iberon.49 The evidence for the foundation derives from analysis of the Life of Our Blessed Fathers John and Euthymios and other monastic documents. The Life describes it in quite simple terms. The Georgians chose a good site in the middle of the peninsula and there built a monastery with two churches, one dedicated to the Mother of God, the other to St John the Baptist. They bought lands in the surrounding area and, with the help of John Tornikios, the emperors Basil II and Constantine VII confirmed these acquisitions to the Georgians with a chrysobull of 979/980.50
And similarly, because of his [Tornikios’s] service and great deeds, any place or village [the Georgians] asked for, the God-serving emperors [granted to them], and all was confirmed by a chrysobull and [these places] were not only many in number but also very special, as befits this country.51
In reality, the foundation of Iviron was not as simple as it was described in the Life of St Euthymios; rather it became the cause of many exchanges between the emperor Basil II and John Tornikios. Instead of the monastery of the Iberians in Constantinople and the monastery of St Phokas in Trebizond, over which Tornikios owned rights, he demanded property nearer to Athos. Therefore, in exchange for these two monasteries Tornikios received from the emperor an imperial monastery situated outside Mount Athos together with its numerous dependencies, a considerable fortune of estates in Macedonia, and the Athonite monastery of Klementos, dedicated to St John the Baptist, a small establishment 11 kilometres north-west of the Great Lavra.52 This monastery of St John the Baptist was beautifully situated between the woods and the sea. The only disadvantage was that the area was not protected from the wind. This was the place to which the Georgians moved in the 980s when abandoning their kellia near the Great Lavra. According to the chrysobull of 979–80, Tornikios also received the monasteries of Leontia in Thessaloniki and Kolobou in Ierissos. The foundation of Iviron took place with the inclusion of all these monastic lands.53
Monastic rules, regulations, and statutes written by Euthymios comprised the first Georgian typikon. Although the document is lost, long excerpts from it are quoted in the Life of Euthymios by George the Athonite.
Economically, the Georgians contributed very generously to the Holy Mountain, as the documents verify, and not only to Iviron but also to the Great Lavra, a fact that does not necessarily demonstrate their inexhaustible wealth or extreme generosity as such but makes clear the role assigned to Iviron. In other words, the lavish supply of material goods by the Georgians to the Holy Mountain that was under the direct patronage of the emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople and was counted among the favourite places of the leaders of the empire served their long-term strategy.
Georgian Royal and Noble Families at the Imperial Court
The political situation in Georgia during the second half of the tenth century strongly supported the cultural orientation of the nation towards Byzantium. There had always been a tendency to find ways of creating and maintaining bonds with Constantinople. In this respect Tao-Klarjeti was already linked to Constantinople because of its semi-dependence on the empire while, at the same time, being in a state of confrontation because of territories which were received from Byzantium but then taken back again.
By the end of the tenth century a great many Georgians, both lay and ordained, were present in Constantinople, whether as diplomats, members of the nobility taken as hostages, or simply seeking patronage from the emperor.54
Iviron, like other monasteries on Mount Athos, was granted by the emperors large stipends or annual payments of money. In the middle of the eleventh century the monastery’s properties amounted to approximately 10,800 acres with 246 peasant families installed on these lands. By the beginning of the twelfth century, the number of families had risen to 294, although the extent of the properties had been reduced through confiscations.55
At the time when Queen Mary, mother of the Georgian King Bagrat IV, was in Constantinople, George the Athonite, hegoumenos of Iviron, was also visiting the court in order to sort out some monastic affairs. Mary personally intervened with Constantine IX Monomachos (1042–55) to help Fr George overcome a problem of taxation.56 This fact, described in the Life of Our Blessed Father George, is confirmed by the Book of Synodikon (no. 15, p. 209). Two members of the Chordvaneli family, Peter and John, also interceded with the emperor, together with Queen Mary, to change the existing regulation for taxation in a way more favourable to Iviron.
During the last quarter of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh, Iviron played a significant role in the development of Mount Athos, both politically, because of the backgrounds of John and Euthymios, and also John Tornikios whose family kept very close links with the emperors, and economically, because these individuals brought with them a great deal of wealth. Moreover, John and Euthymios were highly respected on Mount Athos: Athanasios spoke about them in laudatory tones and left them as the epitropoi57 of his monastery.58
Nationalistic Aspirations of the Georgian Athonite Community
The Lives of the Georgian Athonite monks are full of venom against other nations, especially the Greeks and the Armenians, but the Georgians themselves also come under fire in the Life of Euthymios. There are different reasons for the criticism as the Lives attempted to prove a number of key issues, such as that Iviron was founded for the Georgians only, that the Church of Georgia had never been damaged by heretical teachings and the faith was therefore kept undefiled, and that any false teaching which may have been introduced via early translations, essentially from the Armenian, had been corrected.
The main reason for the offensive language used against the Armenians was their non-Chalcedonian Christology. In conversation with the patriarch of Antioch, George the Athonite, according to the author of his Life George the Minor, made the following statement:
Although [our nation] possessed the Holy Scripture as well as undefiled and true faith from the very beginning, our land was yet far from Greece. And the unkind Armenians, evil-doers and cunning, have been implanted among us as impure seeds and caused great harm to us. Although our flock remained pure and undefiled, [the Armenians] by proper and improper means or through temptation brought about that [the Georgians] translated a number of books from their [language].59
At another time, in conversation with Emperor Constantine Doukas while answering his question about the faith of the Armenians, George comments: ‘“Let the evil faith have no name.” And the Armenian princes became ashamed in front of all.’60
Clearly, this is a very narrow interpretation of the historical reasons why the dogmatic positions of the Georgians and the Armenians became mutually exclusive. After the conversion of Kartli (western Georgia, at that time a separate kingdom under the rule of King Mirian) around the year 330, some of the first translations were made from Armenian as well as Greek and Syriac. After the seventh century, when the Churches of Georgia and Armenia became formal rivals, and later, when the orientation in the Georgian Church shifted towards Byzantium rather than the Holy Land and Antioch, new translations into Georgian were made mainly from Greek, while, as the Life of George mentions, the old translations were now also corrected to accord with the Greek texts.61
As for the Greeks, the reason for denouncing them was obvious: the Georgians were unable to run their community without the help of the Greeks. Iviron grew into a large settlement that required a great deal of labour for its maintenance. Thus the Greeks were welcomed as blacksmiths, carpenters, builders, vineyard workers, and sailors.62 Very soon after its foundation, Iviron allowed the Greeks to reside in the monastery, even though this was against the wishes of the founders. One can imagine that the coexistence of the two languages and two cultures in one monastery would not be easy, especially since the environment on the Holy Mountain was predominantly Greek while Iviron had strong claims to its Georgian origin. Little by little the Greeks took over, while the Georgians dwindled in numbers as well as authority within the monastery and in the rest of the peninsula.
The Georgians themselves were not spared the critical eye of George the Minor when he explained the reasons for increasing the number of Greek monks in Iviron under Hegoumenos Gregory, who ‘showed preference for them but he ignored and reduced the Georgians as incapable and unreliable. As all you know,’ says George the Minor, ‘we [the Georgians] easily change our mind and go from one place to another, thus causing some considerable damage to our own souls as well as to the community.’63
The years from 1029 to 1042 were the most difficult for Iviron. In 1029 Hegoumenos George the Varazvache,64 from the house of Chordvaneli, was sent into exile and the Greeks were able to replace him with a new hegoumenos whom the Georgians called the ‘evildoer’. In 1035 the monks of Iviron expelled the ‘evildoer’ hegoumenos and elected as his successor Gregory, another of the Chordvanelis, followed by two others from the same family, Symeon and Stephanos. In 1045 the leadership passed to George the Athonite, who also belonged to the Chordvanelis.
Intellectual Property of Iviron
When the first Georgian monks settled on Mount Athos, they worked out a strategy to make their presence as meaningful as possible. In the period when they were still living in the Lavra of Athanasios, the first programme for the Georgians was established by a group of about seven individuals.65 Apart from the construction of buildings, they had to consider also the provision of books and senior clergy. The Life of St Euthymios refers to the fact that the founders of Iviron invited eminent monks to their new community. John the Iberian invited his old spiritual friends John Grdzelisdze and Arsenios of Ninotsmida to leave the Pontic desert and to join the first Georgian community on Mount Athos. John the Iberian sent a letter to the brothers:
Holy fathers, your holiness has become known to us and we learned about your life there and we regret that you do not wish to come to this holy and eminent Mountain so that we also might receive your holy prayer. We entreat your holiness to come [here] so that we may reside together because, as you know, we too have been in a foreign [land].66
The importance of inviting spiritually advanced monks was emphasized at the very beginning of the Life of St Euthymios: God ‘revealed to us our blessed fathers John and Euthymios, and John [ex-Tornikios] and Arsenios bishop of Ninotsmida, and John Grdzelisdze’.67 Furthermore, when Tornikios returned from Georgia, he brought with him many rasophores and famous monks. In fact, Tornikios’s wish was to accept only native Georgians into the monastery.
It is interesting to see how the activities of John the Iberian and his son Euthymios were viewed by their contemporaries. One of the manuscripts, the translation of theological texts by Euthymios (Ath. 13),68 contains two colophons by the copiers John Grdzelisdze and Arsenios of Ninotsmida, saying: ‘Christ, bless and give rest to the soul of Fr John and bless our Fr Euthymios; they faithfully provided spiritual care for the Georgian people and reward for their work.’ And then again:
For remembrance of the soul of blessed John who is the cause of all these good things, who brought up and educated Fr Euthymios and made us worthy of such goodness, his soul is worthy of the immortal goodness. By the order of our God-bearing Fr Euthymios we poor sinners, Arsenios of Ninotsmida and John Grdzelisdze and Chrysostom, were deemed worthy to copy by our hands these holy books translated from Greek into Georgian by our holy illuminator Fr Euthymios for the comfort of all the Georgians and for prayers and to glorify Fr Euthymios who was revealed recently as equal to the first holy ones, Fr Michael and [Fr] George, our brothers in spirit and flesh.69
The miraculous scene of acquiring perfect knowledge of the Georgian language by young Euthymios illustrates the mindset of the first Georgian Athonites: they wished to bring the Georgian translations of the sacred books up to the Byzantine standard. As a child Euthymios was struck down by a severe illness and was close to death, being speechless and voiceless. His father feared that Euthymios would depart this world and went to the church of the Mother of God, prostrated in front of the icon of the Holy Mother, and prayed with fervent tears. When he went back to see Euthymios, he opened the door of his cell and immediately smelt a wondrous fragrance, which was the sign that the Mother of God had protected him. Euthymios was sitting upon his bed entirely healed and unharmed.
‘What happened, my son?’ And he replied, saying: ‘A glorious queen stood up before me and spoke to me in the Georgian language: “What is it? What is wrong with you, Euthymios?” And I told her: “I am dying, [my] queen.” And as soon as I said this, she came close, took my hand and said: “Nothing is wrong with you, get up, do not be afraid and [hence] speak the Georgian [language] fluently.” And so I am fine, as you see.’ And blessed John continued: ‘Until then, his Georgian had not been good and I worried for this reason, but since then ceaselessly, like the spring water, [the Georgian language] purer than that of any other Georgian flows from his mouth.’70
Clearly, the Georgian Church had not been without spiritual books before John the Iberian and Euthymios started their activity. The presence of Georgians in Palestine who translated the holy books is evident from as early as the fifth century. From the fourth to the ninth century translations were made from Greek of the polykephalia, lectionaries, writings of the church fathers, exegetical works, hagiography, and ascetical writings. The original texts of Georgian hagiography and hymnography were also developed in this period and some remarkable examples survive. Also from the ninth to the tenth century Georgians were present in Palestine at Mar Saba and on Sinai.
Before the Georgian community on Mount Athos established a programme to fill the gaps and enrich its spiritual writings, there already existed a rich body of translated and original Christian writings in Georgian. Despite this fact, both Lives place a special emphasis on the importance of the translations made by Euthymios and the intellectual programme worked out in Iviron in general. The previous translations had to be made purer and free of any possible heresy, so they were to be corrected and updated according to Byzantine standards. In this way, the Georgian community on Mount Athos was able to play an exceptional role in the life and culture of the Georgian Church.
In the Life of Fr George the theme of selfdefence by the Georgians against ‘false accusations’ regarding their heretical teaching emerges a few times, which supports the most important message put across in the Lives of the Athonites: that spiritual leaders, whether in Georgia, Antioch, or Mount Athos, are concerned with improving the existing translations of church service books and other spiritual writings. The Lives reflect the eagerness on the part of the Georgian spiritual fathers to cleanse existing translations of all possible mistakes or corruptions. Both texts testify that Iviron had an efficient scriptorium where translations were copied and sent back to Georgia as well as to the Georgian monasteries outside Georgia. Iviron was also known for its collection of Greek manuscripts – twelve copies of Greek texts copied in Iviron by the Greek monk Theophanes have been catalogued in various libraries around the world. These are predominantly texts of a dogmatic or ascetic nature translated by Euthymios into Georgian.
Both Euthymios and George were translators of the highest class. Their texts often contain additional material, such as a list of contents with brief descriptions of the texts under discussion and commentaries. Today, Iviron possesses 2,192 Greek manuscripts, including a large collection of musical texts, and 94 Georgian manuscripts, of which 60 date from the period before the twelfth century.
Thus there occurred a fortunate combination of circumstances, and the opportunities were used in an inventive way by the Georgians to maintain a large and prosperous community on Mount Athos for more than one hundred years. Iviron received strong support from the Georgian kings and nobility in Tao and Kartli, and repaid this by improving the Georgian church books according to the Constantinopolitan standard and providing spiritual nourishment for the Georgians in their own country and abroad. For these reasons one Georgian historian has named Iviron ‘the Georgian consulate in Constantinople’.71
Were the other monasteries as academically advanced as Iviron? Was it Athanasios who introduced this level of scholarship? Or was it purely Iviron’s individual choice and orientation to intertwine in a creative way political and cultural ambitions and to create a national spiritual symbol that would resonate throughout the centuries?
Archives de l’Athos, fondées par Gabriel Millet, publiées par Paul Lemerle et Jacques Lefort, IV: Actes de Dionysiou, éd. par N. Oikonomidès (Paris, 1968).
––, VII: Actes du Prôtaton, éd. par Denise Papachryssanthou (Paris, 1975).
––, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XIX: Actes d’Iviron, vols 1–4, édition diplomatique par J. Lefort, N. Oikonomidès, D. Papachryssanthou, V. Kravari, avec la collaboration d’H. Métrévéli (Paris, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1995).
Badridze, Shota, Georgian Relations with Byzantium and Western Europe (Tbilisi, 1984).
Grdzelidze, Tamara (tr.), Georgian Monks on Mount Athos. Two Eleventh-Century Lives of the Hegoumenoi of Iviron (London, 2009).
Harvey, Alan, Economic Expansion in the Byzantine Empire, 900–1200 (Cambridge, 1989).
Metreveli, Helen, The Book of Synodikon of the Georgian Monastery on Mount Athos (Tbilisi, 1998).
––, Philological-Historical Research, vol.1 (Tbilisi, 2008).
––, Studies in Cultural and Educational History of the Athonite Establishment (Tbilisi, 1996).
Pantsulaia, I., Catalogue of the Georgian Manuscripts from the Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos (A Collection), vol. 4 (Tbilisi, 1954).
van Parys, Michel, ‘La monachisme et sa signification pour l’identité européenne’, in Gianpaolo Rigotti (ed.), Dall’Oronte al Tevere. Scritti in onore del cardinale Ignace Moussa I Daoud per il cinquantesimo di sacerdozio (Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Rome, 2004), pp. 297–308.
* * *
Helen Metreveli, Philological-Historical Research, vol.1 (Tbilisi, 2008), pp. 69–70.
Hilarion the Georgian lived in the nineteenth century and served in the imperial army in St Petersburg. He joined the monastery of Dionysiou but subsequently lived in a hermitage nearby.
See Tamara Grdzelidze (tr.), Georgian Monks on Mount Athos. Two Eleventh-Century Lives of the Hegoumenoi of Iviron (London, 2009).
Helen Metreveli, The Book of Synodikon of the Georgian Monastery on Mount Athos (Tbilisi, 1998). A synodikon is a book containing names of the departed who are to be commemorated in church services for their financial donations or contributions in kind to a monastery.
Archives de l’Athos, fondées par Gabriel Millet, publiées par Paul Lemerle et Jacques Lefort, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XIX: Actes d’Iviron, vols 1–4, édition diplomatique par J. Lefort, N. Oikonomidès, D. Papachryssanthou, V. Kravari, avec la collaboration d’H. Métrévéli (Paris, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1995).
T. Grdzelidze, Georgian Monks, pp. 56–7. This was the creation of a group of hermitages or a skete, also confirmed later in the text. The creation of Iviron, according to the chrysobull of Basil II, was decided in 979/80. Actes d’Iviron, vol. 1, p. 88.
Archives de l’Athos IV: Actes de Dionysiou, éd. par N. Oikonomidès (Paris, 1968), pp. 68–71. See also H. Metreveli, Philological-Historical Research, vol.1, p. 45.
In 1035 a chrysobull of Emperor Michael IV Paphlagon refers to the Georgian monks of Athos.
This chrysobull is lost but its content is known through the act of Judge Leo (1059 or 1074), Actes d’Iviron, pp. 11–13.
Georgian Monks, p. 60.
According to tradition, the Mother of God, on her way to Cyprus, landed on Mount Athos at the place known as Klementos.
Actes d’Iviron, vol. 1, pp. 24–6.
Helen Metreveli, Studies in Cultural and Educational History of the Athonite Establishment (Tbilisi, 1996), p. 33.
Alan Harvey, Economic Expansion in the Byzantine Empire, 900–1200 (Cambridge, 1989), p. 49.
Georgian Monks, pp. 118–20.
Epitropos is interpreted in Byzantium as administrative head, but Helen Metreveli (Studies, pp. 34–5) says that Athanasios left John the Iberian and Euthymios as epitropoi, spiritual supervisors, of the Great Lavra and it led the Greek monks to dislike the Georgian presence even further. A conflict between the Greeks and the Georgians becomes clear also from the fact that none of the lives of Athanasios the Great mentions the presence and the role of the Georgians in founding the monastic settlement on the Holy Mountain. However, the eighteenth-century Greek description of the lives of the ktitors of the Great Lavra speaks about John the Iberian, John Tornikios, and Euthymios. Also, in the administrative centre in Karyes there is a fresco with eleven great saints of Mount Athos and two of them are Euthymios and George.
Archives de l’Athos, VII: Actes du Protaton, éd. par Denise Papachryssanthou (Paris, 1975), p. 84.
Georgian Monks, p. 111.
Ibid., p. 145.
Ibid., p. 125.
Ibid., p. 60.
Ibid., p. 89.
There is an inscription by George Varazvache on the dome of the church: ‘I, the Georgian monk George, fortified these pillars and dome so that they stand and do not move unto the ages of ages’.
See Michel van Parys, ‘La monachisme et sa signification pour l’identité européenne’, in Gianpaolo Rigotti (ed.), Dall’Oronte al Tevere. Scritti in onore del cardinale Ignace Moussa I Daoud per il cinquantesimo di sacerdozio (Rome, 2004), pp. 297–308, p. 298. The article gives an exposition of eastern monastic spirituality based on the example of Iviron and compares the contribution made by the eastern and western monastic spiritualities to European identity.
Georgian Monks, p. 64.
Ibid., p. 53.
I. Pantsulaia, Catalogue of the Georgian Manuscripts from the Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos (A Collection), vol. 4 (Tbilisi, 1954).
Metreveli, Studies, pp. 113–16.
Georgian Monks, p. 67.
Shota Badridze, Georgian Relations with Byzantium and Western Europe (Tbilisi, 1984), p. 47.