Monastery of Philotheou on Mount Athos
Most pleased with her inheritance of Mount Athos, the Theotokos said this prayer in thanksgiving, ‘My Son and my God, bless this place, this lot of mine. Pour Thy mercy up on it and keep it free from harm till the end of this world, together with them that dwell therein for Thy holy name and mine. And, through their fatigue and through the struggle of repentance, may their sins be forgiven. Fill their lives with every good and necessity in this age, and with eternal life in the future age. Glorify this place above every other place and show Thy miraculous power in every way. Fill it with men from every nation under the sky, who are called by Thy name and extend their habitations in it from end to end. Exempt them from eternal punishment, save them from every temptation, from visible and invisible enemies and from every heresy, and pacify them in right worship (Orthodoxy).”
In the life of St. Peter the Athonite (681 A.D.), he beheld a vision of the Theotokos speaking with St. Nicholas, saying, “There is a Mountain in Europe, both beautiful and great, extending into the sea, facing Libya. Of all the places on the earth, I have chosen this Mountain, and it is to be the monk’s proper residence. I myself have come to know it and have received it from my Son and God as an inheritance, for them that desire to forsake the cares and tumults of the world that they might betake themselves there and serve God in peace without hindrance. Henceforth this place shall be holy and shall be my garden. Exceedingly do I love that place. I will especially aid them that come to dwell there and that labor with all their souls for God.”
She continued, “The time will come when, from every direction, it will be filled with a multitude of monks. On account of this my soul rejoices and is exceedingly glad because they will praise and glorify the name of my Son and God. If those monks shall labor with all their hearts and faithfully keep His commandments, I will vouchsafe them great gifts on the day of my Son. And, while even here on earth, they will receive great aid from me. I shall lighten their afflictions and labors. I will be for monks an invincible ally, invisibly guiding and guarding them, a healer, a source nourishing them, and make it possible for them, with but scant means, to have sufficiency for life.”
After praying for the new flock on the Holy Mountain, the Theotokos and her company set sail for Cyprus. Upon arriving, they found St. Lazarus in great sorrow, for he feared their delay had been caused by the storm. However, her arrival turned his sorrow into great joy and she then related to him everything that had happened on the Holy Mountain and they all gave great thanks to God.
Here is a link to a virtual tour of Mount Athos, which for us Orthodox mothers, is likely the closest we’ll ever get to seeing it since it is forbidden to women. You can even light a virtual candle! 🙂
We are also very blessed to have nearly 20 Athonite monasteries here in the United States and Canada, opened by the holy Elder Ephraim, former abbot of Philotheou and who is still the spiritual guide of several other monasteries on Mount Athos. Click here for a list of the monasteries here in the states.