Graham Speake, Kallistos Ware

MARCUS PLESTED. Latin Monasticism on Mount Athos

Evocations of the universality of the monastic witness of Mount Athos tend, naturally, to focus on its pan-Orthodox character within the world of the Christian East, as the other contributions to this volume amply and ably illustrate. But it comes as a surprise to many to discover the existence for some centuries of a flourishing Latin and Benedictine monastery on the Holy Mountain. St Benedict himself remains deeply reverenced on the Mountain: his icon adorns many a katholikon and monks bearing his name are not unusual. It has even been suggested that the well-known Athonite greeting and response – ‘Eulogeite! ho Kurios’ (Bless! The Lord [bless]) – is closely related to an almost identical Benedictine usage.238 But while Benedict’s name remains blessed on the Mountain, and few houses lack a monk of western provenance, the idea of a house celebrating the Latin rite and following the Benedictine rule can be contemplated today only with a very great imaginative leap. Indeed, the very existence of a Latin Athonite house is something some monks would prefer to forget. I have some personal experience of this: on a visit in 1993 I recall being hurried past the site of this monastery by an Athonite companion unwilling to linger at or dwell upon what is certainly one of most intriguing spots on the Mountain.

It is one of the tragedies of the schism between Greek East and Latin West that genuine and profound theological and ecclesiastical differences have, on both sides, led too often to a blanket rejection of the whole tradition of the opposing party. Such a blanket rejection is, I fear, explicit in the recent declaration of the Holy Community in response to the papal visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch in ноября 2006 and the visit of the Archbishop of Athens to the Vatican in декабря of the same year. In this important statement, the Holy Community speaks of Athonite monasticism as the ‘non-negotiable guardian of Sacred Tradition’. From that standpoint, the declaration criticizes various aspects of these visits that would seem to imply some sort of recognition of the legitimacy of the papacy and acceptance of common ground between Orthodoxy and the West. The declaration indeed asserts a fundamental incompatibility between the West and Orthodoxy.239 Relations between Athos and the West have rarely, if ever, conformed to this black-and-white, dichotomous framework. There have been severe strains and great difficulties but, from the historical point of view, the situation that emerges is more complex and nuanced than the Holy Community appears to allow. The story of Latin Athonite monasticism is a shining and salutary reminder that East and West have met on the Mountain, and that both have been enriched in that encounter.

Going back to the very beginnings of Athonite monasticism, we have a prime instance of Roman involvement in the career of St Peter the Athonite in the ninth century – one of the first Athonite hermits we know by name. According to his (semi-legendary) Life, it was to the Pope in Rome that St Peter went, at the instigation of St Nicolas, for his somewhat delayed monastic tonsure – perhaps around 839–40.240 The fact that he should have gone to Rome is by no means improbable given that Rome was, at this time, a bastion of orthodoxy while the East had relapsed into iconoclasm.

In the tenth century, at the momentous time of the foundation of the cenobium of Great Lavra by St Athanasios, Latin monks had already begun beating a path to the Monte santo. The Life of St Athanasios speaks of Latin monks being among the many drawn to Athos because of his fame. Out of their great respect for him, certain western monks bring him a gift of caviar. This is a foodstuff too rich and fancy for the saint to eat, but he nonetheless accepts the gift so as not to offend them.241 The typikon of St Athanasios contains several incontrovertible albeit minor borrowings from the rule of St Benedict.242 The generous treatment of Latin monasticism by St Athanasios also intimated by the instruction in his statutes that a monk ‘tonsured outside’ (ξενóκουρος) be welcomed into the community and treated as an equal.243 This injunction certainly does not apply only to Latin monks: the distinction under censure is primarily that between those tonsured inside and outside the Lavra.244 But this ruling, with the concomitant insistence that no one should be called a foreigner within the community, stands as a further sign of Athanasios’s unswerving commitment to a truly catholic and universal vision of Athonite monasticism.

We are fortunate in possessing the names of some of the Latin monks within St Athanasios’s orbit in a number of early Athonite documents. An act of Iviron dated декабря 984 (concerning a gift from the Lavra) bears the signatures in Latin of two monks – John and Arsenios – among the non-Lavriote witnesses to the donation.245 These same names occur in a document of the following year, 985, with John now designated ‘monachos ton Apothikon’ and again serving as witness.246 This toponym indicates an area at the northern limit of the territory of the Lavra as defined in the typikon of Athanasios, that is Cape Kosari, at the southern end of Morphonou bay, a region now best known as the location of the sacred spring of St Athanasios. These indications suggest that the establishment of a Latin house is to be dated before 984.

The place-name ‘Morphonou’ preserves the name of this house, which became the famous imperial monastery of the Amalfitans (variously referred to in the sources as ἡ μονὴ τῶν Ἀμαλφηνῶν or, later, ἡ τῶν Μολφηνῶν μονή).247

All that remains now of this once thriving Latin and Benedictine house is its imposing tower, emblazoned with a single-headed eagle, together with a few lesser ruins. The house fell into disrepair in the thirteenth century, at which time Lavra assumed responsibility for the buildings and for the continuation of monastic life there, a responsibility it has done little to fulfil. There were, however, some significant restoration and rebuilding works at both the monastery and its maritime fortress in 1534–5 paid for by the Voyevod of Wallachia, Petru Rareş. These works give the ruins considerably more substance than they would otherwise have had.248 But in its heyday this community provided an eloquent and living statement of the integrity of the Latin monastic and liturgical tradition at the heart of Athos. And, intriguingly, it did so well into the period conventionally dated as post-schism (i.e. after AD 1054).

Vivid details of the foundation are to be found in the Life of St John and St Euthymios, the Georgian founders of the monastery of Iviron.249 In this Life, which is of considerable historical value, we have a record of the arrival of a certain monk Leo, brother of the Duke of Benevento, with six companions, on Mount Athos – perhaps around AD 980. It is quite conceivable that the John and Arsenius who signed the acts of 984 and 985 were among these companions. The two Georgian saints are recorded as having greeted Leo with great enthusiasm as fellow foreigners. They go on to offer their full support, material and spiritual, in establishing a Latin monastery. In response to this encouragement and to requests from fellow ‘Romans’ in Constantinople who wished to join him, Leo established a large community patterned on the rule and teachings of St Benedict and soon to enjoy an enviable reputation for piety and integrity, not to mention a delightful situation. The date of the foundation мая be put between 980 and 984.

Amalfi, in Campania, was the first of the Italian states to secure extensive trading privileges with the Byzantine empire, including the right to its own quarter in Constantinople.250 According to Liutprand of Cremona, they were not (in 968) above flirtation with contraband.251 Mercantile savvy coupled with good relations with the Arabs helped create a flourishing maritime power down to the time of its surrender to the Normans in 1073. Amalfi had a church and monastery in Constantinople from the early tenth century and, from 1020, a monastery that functioned as the chief hostel for western pilgrims in Jerusalem. The monasteries in all three places were dedicated to the Mother of God. We do hear of other Italian houses on Athos in this period, monasteries of Sicilians and Calabrians, but these were Greek-speaking communities and certainly lesser in importance than the great house of the Amalfitans.

The Chronica monasterii Casinensis of Leo of Ostia records a monastic tour made by John of Benevento which included, after six years on Sinai, a sojourn (around 986) on Mount Athos during which St Benedict himself appeared in a nocturnal vision urging his return. There are strong grounds for assuming that he lodged with his fellow Benedictine countrymen at this time.252 Some further details of the history of the Athonite monastery of the Amalfitans мая be gleaned from other Athonite documents of the period. Lavra §9 (991) is again witnessed in Latin script by a John now styled abbot (higuminus).253 This appears to be the same John who had signed the acts of 984 and 985. Lavra §17 (1012) is signed by ‘Johannes monachus’, Lavra 19 (1016) by ‘Johannes monachus et abbas’, and Lavra §21 (1017) (in Greek) by ‘John the Amalfitan’.254 In all instances, this appears to be the same John, acting in an official and representative capacity, adding his weight to these important documents, whether issued by the Protos or some other authority. John often signs in a prominent position in the list, indicating something of the prestige of his monastery The variations in self-designation are not of great moment: there appears to be no great premium placed on consistency of titles in the Athonite acta.

Lavra §15 (1010) mentions the property of the Amalfion, while Lavra §23 (1018–19) finds in favour of the monastery in a dispute over property and associated rights with Lavra and Karakalou. The monastery of the Amalfitans is singled out for special privileges in the typikon of Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (September 1045). One of the main points of the typikon was to restrict the mercantile activities of the monasteries, many of which had, it seems, taken to fitting out ships to trade wine and other commodities as far as the Queen of Cities and beyond. The typikon therefore forbids the monasteries to keep large boats, excepting cases where they had already secured permission to do so from a previous emperor – as Vatopedi had done. A further exception was made for the Amalfion:

All agreed to a further dispensation whereby monastery of the Amalfitans was to be allowed to own a large boat since they were unable to survive by any other means. They were not to make use of this boat for commercial gain, but they were to travel with it to the Reigning City if they wanted to import anything they needed for their monastery or to be supplied from those who love Christ.255

The implication here is that the monastery’s needs were to a certain extent supplied from the Amalfitan community in Constantinople – a definite point of vulnerability. Shortly after the surrender of Amalfi to the Normans we have, in 1081, two documents indicating that the Amalfion was building up its landholdings – perhaps as a way of addressing the material problems caused by the decline in Amalfitan power and prestige. The monks of Kosmidion in Constantinople confirm to Abbot Benedict of the ‘imperial monastery of the Amalfitans’ the perpetual possession of an estate by the river Strymon in Macedonia.256 Note the ‘imperial’ status of the monastery – the same rank as Lavra, Iviron, and Vatopedi. In the same year, Alexios I Komnenos addresses a chrysobull to the ‘imperial monastery of the Amalfitans’, again confirming their possession of certain lands.257 The crisis of 1054 evidently had no impact on the ability of the Amalfitans to secure imperial patronage.

A glimpse of the spiritual labours of the Amalfion is given by some of its literary products in this period. A certain Leo translated the miracle of St Michael at Chonae into Latin at the instigation of the brethren of the Latin cenobium of Mount Athos. There are other Latin translations of saints’ lives which мая have an Amalfitan connection.258

Moving to the end of the eleventh and into the twelfth century, the name of the abbot of the Amalfion continues to appear in a prominent place on a series of Athonite documents, lending his authority to the Protos as higoumenos of one of most senior monasteries. This abbot is named as Vito in 1087259 and 1108.260 A certain ‘M.’ signs in fifth place a document of 1169 as abbot of ‘the cenobium of St Mary of the Amalfitans’, his signature following that of the Protos and the representatives of Lavra, Iviron, and Vatopedi.261 At the end of the twelfth century, in 1198, the establishment of Hilandar as a specifically Serbian monastery is justified by analogy with the existence of other non-Hellenophone houses on the Mountain: those of the Georgians and of the Amalfitans. The Serbian house is also granted precisely the same autonomy and self-governing status as that enjoyed by those houses.262 At that time the monastery was certainly a fully functioning community. But by 1287 the monastery is said to be in a ruinous and deserted state, hence its properties and rights were transferred to the Great Lavra on the basis that Lavra would undertake to restore and repopulate the monastery.263 In succeeding centuries, the last references in the Athonite archives are to squabbles over formerly Amalfitan land between Karakalou and Lavra, with Lavra invariably maintaining the upper hand.

The reasons behind this fall from prosperity are unknown. Certainly there is never any indication in any of the sources of Athonite objections to the liturgy or theology of the Latin house. The Amalfitan house in Constantinople supported the papal claims and the superiority of the Latin liturgy in the 1054 crisis but there is no such indication with regard to the Athonite house.264 No mention whatsoever is made of the house in the period of the Latin empire (1204–61), nor in connection with the Latinizing policy of Michael VIII Palaiologos (1259–82). While the general anti-Latin feeling aroused by the Fourth Crusade мая well have made a Latin foundation – however Orthodox – unsustainable on Athos, I suspect that economic pressures мая have had the final word. Amalfi itself declined to insignificance as a Mediterranean power in the twelfth century: in the 1130s alone it was sacked or captured three times. The massacre of Latins in Constantinople in 1186 will also have limited the capacity of the Amalfion to secure revenue from the Latin faithful of the City. The ravages of the Crusaders in the lead-up to the sack of the City will certainly have decreased the revenues from the Amalfitan estates. Perhaps the Amalfion was already dying on its feet by 1204. Much of this, however, is conjecture. We simply do not know exactly what happened to this intriguing Orthodox and Latin house.

The Fourth Crusade – whether or not it caused the decline of the Amalfion – was certainly a low point in Athonite–Latin relations.265 Shortly after the eternally shameful sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the Latin successor to the bishop of Sebaste, superintendent of Athos, set about a systematic pillage of the monasteries of the Holy Mountain. This rapacious prelate established a fortified base just outside the current land boundary of Athos, on the site of the former monastery of Zygou (itself a reminder that the Amalfion was not the only powerful monastery to come and go in the early years of Athonite history). This is the place known as Frangokastro today. Hearing of the vexatious activities of this bishop, Pope Innocent III, who had initially opposed the attack on Constantinople and who deplored the crimes committed at that time, relieved this bishop of his position in 1209266 and in 1213 placed Athos directly under the protection of the Holy See.267 In the bull of 1213, which was issued in response to a petition of the downtrodden monks, the Pope praised the Holy Mountain and its denizens in the highest possible terms and confirmed them in all their previous imperial privileges. But he makes no mention of the Amalfion. Athonite reaction to this mark of favour is not recorded, although by 1223 Pope Honorius III was complaining that the monks were, unsurprisingly, ‘disobedient to the Apostolic see and rebellious’.268 Again, the Amalfion is passed over in silence.

Matters did not greatly improve with the restoration of Byzantine control of Constantinople in 1261. Michael VIII concluded a union with Rome in 1274 at the Council of Lyons, a union he and many of his successors thought essential to the survival of the empire (and which had some tangible short-term benefits: union was an essential precondition of the intricate diplomacy behind the Sicilian Vespers). The emperor and his patriarch John Bekkos naturally sought a measure of conformity to this policy across the restored empire. The monks of Athos were, after their dire experiences at the hands of the Latins, unlikely to welcome this policy. It is probably to this period, and not so much to the period of the Latin empire, that most of the tales of Latinizing persecution are to be dated. While our sources for this period are largely in the form of legends, and thus of only very limited historical value, they serve to indicate at least some measure of coercion. Certainly, this period remains the imaginative centre of Athonite anti-westernism (for all that much of the ‘western’ persecution was directed by a Byzantine emperor). Michael’s son and successor Andronikos II repudiated his father’s unionist policy; but, while he enthusiastically and lavishly supported the monks, he was also indirectly responsible for inflicting upon them the ravages of Catalan mercenaries in the early fourteenth century. Mendieta calls this ‘the most dreadful experience that the Holy Mountain had to undergo in its thousand years of existence’.269

Perhaps the most evocative tale of the period is the grisly story of the Cave of the Wicked Dead. In this cave lie the blackened bodies of some monks of Lavra who at a certain time conformed to the Latin rite of the mass. As divine punishment for this enormity, the dead bodies of these unhappy monks were not given to decay in the normal way but rather remained intact – with their hair and nails still growing. These gross specimens are now hidden away in a cave (which Dawkins, who records the legend, locates between Prodromou and Lavra)270 as a permanent warning against involvement with the wicked West. It seems most unlikely that such a tale could emerge except at a time and in a context when the very existence of a Latin-rite house on the Mountain had been all but forgotten – perhaps deliberately so.

It would be a great mistake to suppose that all Athonite monks of the Palaiologan period were implacably opposed to union with Rome. The greatest defender of the Athonites, St Gregory Palamas, was by no means opposed to union. Likewise, the profoundly Palamite Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheos Kokkinos, actively pursued a scheme to convoke a new Ecumenical Council that would ‘unite the Church’.271 Indeed it was often the opponents of Palamas, such as Barlaam, Akindynos, and Gregoras, who were most strenuously anti-unionist.

It is therefore not entirely surprising to find senior Athonites supporting the reunion project that culminated in the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438–9 – shortly after Athos itself had submitted to the Turks in 1430. The declaration of union Laetentur caeli contains the signatures of representatives of Lavra, Vatopedi, Pantokrator, St Basil’s, and St Paul’s.272 At this time, Pope Eugenius IV granted a substantial indulgence to those who visited and supported the monastery of Vatopedi.273 An official policy of union seems to have prevailed at both Lavra and Vatopedi at least for a decade or so after Florence. Perhaps this is the period to which the ‘wicked dead’ belong. The unionist policy evidently did not last: in 1459 the then Pope, Pius II, complained that both these houses had lapsed from their obedience to the apostolic see.274

The fall of the last Byzantine possessions to the Ottomans had, by that time, put the question of reunion firmly out to grass. The fact that the monks of Athos had voluntarily submitted to Sultan Murat II in 1430 stood very much in their favour, although they were to find the tax burden imposed by the Ottomans extremely and increasingly burdensome. One of the solutions was to seek funds from Christian territories and this certainly included territories in the West. In 1593 Clement VIII granted two monks of Docheiariou permission to seek alms in Catholic lands. He did the same to a group of monks from Esphigmenou in 1604, even going so far as to write them a letter of recommendation to King Philip II of Spain.275 Such marks of favour generally required profession of the Catholic faith. This is something these monks do not appear to have found problematic, at least on a temporary basis.

It was in the seventeenth century that one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of Athos took place: the Jesuit connection.276 The Jesuits, who were active in many areas of the Sultan’s realm, certainly sought to encourage reunion with Rome. They were, it seems, also genuinely keen to provide spiritual and material succour, and more generally to help shore up the Eastern Church against the very real threat of Protestantism through education, preaching, and the administration of confession. Contacts between the Jesuits and Athos go back to at least the early seventeenth century when an Athonite monk was among the students at the Jesuit school in Constantinople (and is reported to have taken to practising the spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola). In 1628 the Jesuits were approached by a former abbot of Vatopedi who offered to negotiate the reunion of the Mountain with Rome (nothing came of the scheme). More tangibly, in 1635 a Jesuit school was founded, by invitation, at the Protaton. Much of the curriculum was based on the teaching of classical Greek, but it also involved lectures on the sacraments. The head of the school, Fr Nicolas Rossi, also spoke out against the degeneracy of the idiorrhythmic system. We have no evidence that the presence of the Jesuits on Athos was in any way resented by the monks. Quite to the contrary, we have from 1643 records of an offer by the Holy Community of a permanent residence for Italian monks on Athos, provided the Jesuits could produce in exchange a church in Rome, a metochion to be served by Athonite monks. The project foundered when the church offered by the Jesuits was turned down by the Holy Community on the grounds that it was in an unsatisfactory location.

Athonite enthusiasm for the Jesuits is, at least in part, a testament to the Jesuits’ own openness in dealing with the monks, and indeed with the Orthodox more generally. The Jesuits were careful to acknowledge the jurisdiction and prerogatives of Orthodox bishops and abbots. They recognized, at least implicitly, the validity of Orthodox orders and sacraments. They also valued similar texts to those of the fathers of the Mountain. To give just one example: both Jesuit and Athonite novices are recommended to read the Macarian Homilies.277 To the more fundamentalist proponents of Roman Catholic dogma, all this amounted to ‘going native’ – and here we might see an analogy with the heavy Jesuit involvement with liberation theology in contemporary South and Central America. Competition over the holy places in Jerusalem had greatly worsened relations between Rome and Constantinople from the late seventeenth century onwards. In this atmosphere of worsening relations, pressure from the Inquisition led to the condemnation of the Jesuit policy of, in effect, accepting the continued existence of a partial communion between Rome and the Orthodox. After 1736 we no longer hear of any significant Jesuit activity on Athos.

One last example of a positive estimation of Latin ascetic traditions мая be mentioned: St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain. The co-editor of that incomparable work of Orthodox ressourcement, the Philokalia, Nikodimos wrote vigorously and vociferously against Latin theology but also genuinely esteemed certain examples of Counter-Reformation spirituality. He published lightly adapted translations of the Spiritual Combat of Lorenzo Scupoli and the Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, being careful in both cases to obscure the Catholic provenance of these works. So far as he was concerned, these sources might be freely employed in order to support and confirm the Orthodox tradition.

These examples, and the various others I have mentioned, should, I hope, have served to indicate that the story of ‘Athos and the Latins’ does not, after all, support the picture of unmitigated and eternal antagonism conjured up by the recent Karyes statement. Athos has often been ill-served by the West, it is true. But it has also been supported and defended by the West. The Latin rite and Benedictine rule have flourished on Athos. Even Jesuits have been welcomed and acclaimed at the very heart of the Mountain. In short, what I want to say is that the authentic and living Orthodox witness of Athonite monasticism is not best served by overly simplistic contrasts. The Latins have an honourable and eternal place in the Athonite pleroma. It is a legacy that must not be forgotten.


Amand de Mendieta, E., Mount Athos (Berlin 1972).

Bonsall, L., ‘The Benedictine Monastery of St Mary on Mount Athos’, Eastern Churches Review 2 (1969), 262–7.

Grdzelidze, T., Georgian Monks on Mount Athos: Two Eleventh-Century Lives of the Hegoumenoi of Iviron (London, 2009).

Hofman. G. (ed.), ‘Athos e Roma’, Orientalia Christiana, 5 (1925), 137–83.

––, ‘Rom und Athosklöster’, Orientalia Christiana, 8 (1926), 4–39.

Keller, A., Amalfion: Western Rite Monastery on Mount Athos (Austin, TX, 1994–2002).

Kolbaba, T., The Byzantine Lists. Errors of the Latins (Urbana, IL, 2000).

Lake, K., Early Days of Monasticism on Mount Athos (Oxford, 1909).

Lemerle, P., ‘Les archives du monastère des Amalfitans au Mont Athos’, Epeteris Hetaireias Byzantinon Spoudon, 23 (1953), 548–66.

Meyer, P., Die Haupturkunde für die Geschichte der Athosklöster (Leipzig, 1894). Pertusi, A., ‘Monasteri et Monaci Italiani all’Athos nell’ Alto Medioevo’ in Le millénaire du Mont Athos 963–1963 (Chevetogne, 1963), pp. 217–51.

––, ‘Nuovi documenti sui Benedettini Amalfitani dell’Athos’, Aevum, 27 (1953), 410–29.

––, Rousseau, O., ‘L’ancien monastère bénédictin du Mont Athos’, Revue liturgique et monastique (1929), 531–47.

Speake, G., Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise (New Haven, CT, 2002).

* * *


See J. Leroy, ‘Saint Benoît dans le monde byzantin’ in idem, Études sur le monachisme byzantin (Bellefontaine, 2007), pp. 435–6 (originally published in P. Tamburrino (ed.), San Benedetto e l’Oriente cristiano (Novalesa, 1981), pp. 169–82). Leroy also notes that Byzantine liturgical texts sometimes present Benedict as a martyr or even as supreme pontiff: a sure sign of esteem, if not of historical accuracy.


‘It is important that all these [visits and discussions] do not give the impression that the West and Orthodoxy continue to have the same bases, or lead one into forgetting the distance that separates the Orthodox Tradition from that which is usually presented as the “European spirit”. Europe is burdened with a series of anti-Christian institutions and acts, such as the Crusades, the “Holy” Inquisition, slave-trading and colonization. It is burdened with the tragic division which took on the form of the schism of Protestantism, the devastating World Wars, also man-centred humanism and its atheist view. All of these are the consequence of Rome’s theological deviations from Orthodoxy. One after the other, the Papist and the Protestant heresies gradually removed the humble Christ of Orthodoxy and in His place, they enthroned haughty Man.’ The Holy Community, Holy Mountain of Athos, Karyes, 30 декабря 2006. Protocol Number 2/7/2310. It is remarkable to note in this document the way in which the consequences of the Latin errors have been kept up to date, now encompassing slave-trading and the German wars. This practice of maintaining lists of errors was eagerly pursued by Latins and Greeks alike: Thomas Aquinas’ Contra errores graecorum is perhaps the least edifying of that great doctor’s works. Tia Kolbaba has produced an excellent study of the Byzantine part of this equation: The Byzantine Lists. Errors of the Latins (Urbana, IL, 2000).


The most widespread version of the Life is that of St Gregory Palamas (PG 150 996–1040). Kirsopp Lake gives an earlier version, on which Gregory’s composition is dependent: Early Days of Monasticism on Mount Athos (Oxford, 1909), pp. 18–39. Gregory makes a point of mentioning the Pope’s icon-veneration. See also E. Amand de Mendieta, Mount Athos (Berlin, 1972), pp. 56–7.


Ed. L. Petit, ‘Vie de S. Athanase l’Athonite’, Analecta Bollandiana, 25 (1906), 56. See also P. Lemerle, ‘La vie ancienne de saint Athanase l’Athonite composée au début du XIe siècle par Athanase de Lavra’, Le millénaire du Mont Athos 963–1963 (Chevetogne, 1963), pp. 59–100.


See J. Leroy, ‘Saint Benoît dans le monde byzantin’, p. 449. The theme is also developed in the same author’s ‘S. Athanase et l’idéal cénobitique’ (in Le millénaire du Mont Athos, pp. 101–20). Here he memorably describes the image built up in the Life as a conscious act of monastic synthesis: ‘En [Athanase], Théodore le Studite et Benoît de Nursie se rejoignent, le byzantin et le romain, l’oriental et l’occidental’.


See P. Meyer, Die Haupturkunde für die Geschichte der Athosklöster (Leipzig, 1894), p. 111 lines 31–2.


A comparison мая be drawn here with Catechesis 18 of St Symeon the New Theologian. Here the term ξενοκουρίτης applies to monks tonsured in another monastery but seeking entry to a new community. Unlike Athanasios, Symeon disapproves of such wanderers and warns that they will always be in a position of inferiority. See H. J. M. Turner, ‘“A Carefree and Painless Existence”? Observations of St Symeon the New Theologian on the Monastic Life’, in Sobornost/ECR, 12:1 (1990), 45n. Turner renders it ‘alien monk’.


Iviron 6 in Actes d’Iviron: I, ed. J. Lefort et al. (Paris, 1985) (Archives de l’Athos XIV), pp. 135–40. The fact that these two are witnesses, and not members of the Lavra, is overlooked in a number of the secondary sources (Pertusi, Keller).


Iviron 7, op. cit., pp. 141–51. In this document, Arsenios is now Arsenius – not, I think, a significant shift. My geographical comments are dependent upon the notes accompanying the edition of the Acta.


On this foundation, see, in addition to the articles cited in note 16: L. Bonsall, ‘The Benedictine Monastery of St Mary on Mount Athos’, ECR 2 (1969), 262–7; O. Rousseau, ‘L’ancien monastère bénédictin du Mont Athos’, Revue liturgique et monastique (1929), 531–47; A. Keller, Amalfion: Western Rite Monastery on Mount Athos (Austin, TX, 1994–2002). More on the ‘imperial’ designation below.


Thanks to Archibald Dunn for drawing my attention to these later renovations.


Ed. B. Martin-Hisard, REB 49 (1991), 67–142. Chapter 27 (109–10) deals with this episode. Tamara Grdzelidze has recently produced a fine English translation, Georgian Monks on Mount Athos: Two Eleventh-Century Lives of the Hegoumenoi of Iviron (London, 2009).


See M. Balard, ‘Amalfi et Byzance (Xe–XIIe siècles)’, in Travaux et Mémoires, 6 (1976), 85–95.


Relatio de legatione, 359, cited in Balard, op. cit., p. 89.


MGH 34, ed. H. Hoffman (Hanover 1980), p. 206.


Lavra 9, in Actes de Lavra: I, ed. P. Lemerle et al. (Paris, 1970), pp. 118–22. Further references to the Athonite acta concerning this monastery can be sourced in the following articles: A. Pertusi, ‘Nuovi documenti sui Benedettini Amalfitani dell’Athos’, Aevum, 27 (1953), 410–29; P. Lemerle, ‘Les archives du monastère des Amalfitans au Mont Athos’, Epeteris Hetaireias Byzantinon Spoudon, 23 (1953), 548–66; A. Pertusi, ‘Monasteri et Monaci Italiani all’Athos nell’ Alto Medioevo’, in Le millénaire du Mont Athos 963–1963 (Chevetogne, 1963), pp. 217–51. The Lemerle article offers an important critique of some of the interpretations, datings, and sources of Pertusi (1953), to which Pertusi (1963) offers a response.


The ‘Johannes humilis monachus Amalfitanus’ of Lavra §29 (1035) is distinguished from the former John in the index to the Actes de Lavra, presumably on grounds of autograph.


Given in Meyer, Die Haupturkunde, p. 157 lines 22–7.


Lavra §42.


Lavra §43.


Keller, op. cit., p. 13, gives a useful account albeit one that indulges a little too much speculation as to the specifically Athonite and Amalfitan connections of these texts.


Philotheou §1 (See Lemerle, ‘Les archives’, p. 553). Bito is named twice, second only to the abbot of Lavra, as one who assists the Protos.


In the last of these, Lavra §57, Abbot Bito signs in fifth place, after the Protos and the abbots of Iviron, Vatopedi, and Karakalou, granting possession of a ruin close to the kellion of Prophourni in Karyes to Lavra.


Acta Rossici Monasterii §7. See Lemerle, ‘Les archives’, p. 554.


Hilandar §3 contains the petition of the Protos and council to Emperor Alexios III Angelos. In Hilandar §4 the emperor graciously accedes to the request, expressly concurring with the analogy drawn with Iviron and the Amalfion. Actes de Chilandar I (Archives d’Athos XX) ed. M. Zivojinovic et al. (Paris, 1998), pp. 100–10.


Lavra 79 (Actes de Lavra II, ed. P. Lemerle et al. (Paris, 1977), pp. 46–50). The monastery is referred to as ἡ τῶν Μολφηνῶν μονή. Lavra §80–1 record the confirmation of the grant by the patriarch and emperor respectively.


See Balard, op. cit., and A. Michel, Amalfi und Jerusalem in griechischen Kirchenstreit (1054–1090) (OCA 121) (Rome, 1939). Peter Damian explicitly commends the Constantinopolitan brethren for their loyalty a catholica Fide at this time (Ep. 6.13: PL 144: 396C–397C).


The relations between Athos and the West are expertly and helpfully discussed by C. Korolevskij in DHGE 5, 81–9.


De custodia monasteriorum Montis Sancti (PL 216: 229 BC).


The bull is given in G. Hofman, ‘Athos e Roma’, Orientalia Christiana, 5 (1925), 148–50.


This letter, ‘Priori et fratribus domus Cruciferorum Nigripotensibus’, is cited in G. Hofman, ‘Rom und Athosklöster’, Orientalia Christiana, 8 (1926), 8.


Mount Athos (Berlin, 1972), p. 90.


R. M. Dawkins, The Monks of Athos (London, 1936), pp. 305–6.


John Meyendorff, ‘Mount Athos in the Fourteenth Century’, in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 42 (1988), 161–2.


Given in Hofman, ‘Athos e Roma’, pp. 150–1.


Hofman, ‘Rom und Athosklöster’, pp. 9–10.


Ibid., p. 10.


Ibid., pp. 17–19.


The documents concerning Jesuit relations with Athos can be found in the above-mentioned collections of documents assembled by G. Hofman, ‘Athos e Roma’, Orientalia Christiana, 5 (1925), 137–83 and ‘Rom und Athosklöster’, Orientalia Christiana, 8 (1926), 4–39.


See my The Macarian Legacy (Oxford, 2004), p. 1n.

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