Aghiou Pavlou

The Holy Monastery of Aghiou Pavlou is in the western part of Athos and is dedicated to the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Its founder was St Paul of Xeropotamou, founder also of the latter monastery, who, towards the end of his life, withdrew to an ascetic 's dwelling, on the site of which the Monastery stands today. In the 10th and 11th centuries we encounter two monasteries on Athos with the name of Xeropotamou. What is today St Paul 's (Aghiou Pavlou) finally took the name from 1108 onwards.

In the 14th century the Monastery was deserted, but by the efforts of the Serbian nobles, now monks, Gerasimus Radonia and Antonios Pegases, it was promoted from a kelli to a monastery. In the next century Aghiou Pavlou received support from John V and John VII Palaeologus, the Serbian Prince Giour, and his brother Lazarus. Many other Danubian princes, both Romanian and Greek, were the Monastery 's benefactors. A time when the Monastery flourished during the 17th century was followed by its decline in the 18th, caused by a shortage of funds, in its turn caused by the savage taxation of the Turkish authorities and the usury of the Jews. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, with the help of the sacristan Grigorios and Archimandrite Anthimos Komninos, the Monastery recovered and was able to pay off its debts.

The last catastrophes experienced by Aghiou Pavlou were a fire in 1902 and a flood in 1911. Its northern part was built in the 15th century, while its defensive tower dates from the 16th. In the 19th century its katholikon was constructed, though into the present century many repairs and additions have been made. The Monastery has 12 chapels, of which that of St George is the Monastery 's oldest building, adorned with important wall-paintings belonging to the Cretan School. Subject to Aghiou Pavlou are the picturesque Nea Skete and the Romanian Skete of St Demetrius. Today it holds thirteenth place among the monasteries of Mount Athos.

Among the Monastery 's treasures are the gifts of the Three Wise Men, the foot of St Gregory the Theologian, a piece of the True Cross, sacred vessels, and vestments. The library contains 494 manuscripts and more than 12,000 printed books. The community today consists of some 30 hard-working monks.

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