The Holy Monastery of St Panteleimon, the so-called Rossikon (Russian), is on the south-west of the Athos peninsula, a little before one reaches the port of Dafni. The present appearance of the Monastery, with its abandoned grand multistoreyed buildings, testifies to its rich and expansive past. The history of the Monastery has its beginnings in around the 10th century in the Monastery of the All-holy Theotokos 'tou Xylourgou ' (the Bogoroditsa Skete), the brotherhood of which in the mid 12th century moved to the Thessalonikeos Monastery, which was dedicated to St Panteleimon. The brotherhood remained on this site for seven centuries - until 1765.
In the course of its history, the Monastery has seen many important events and memorable personalities. Around 1193, St Sabbas, Archbishop of the Serbs, became a monk of the Monastery. In 1307, Catalan bandits burnt it, but it recovered soon afterwards with the help of Stefan Dushan. The Russian and the Greek elements succeeded in living together in harmony in the Monastery. Among its benefactors were Byzantine Emperors, Serbian princes, wealthy Romanians, and Tsars of Russia.
Under Turkish rule the Monastery of St Panteleimon suffered badly, and there were periods when it was completely deserted. Thus in the 17th century the Holy Community included it among the monasteries under its guardianship. In the next century, the Russo-Turkish Wars brought about a reduction in the number of Russian monks, and Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs came to predominate. The Rossikon recovered and was revitalised with help of generous donations from the Phanariot Kallimachis family, and particularly Ioannis Kallimachis, Prince of Moldavia (18th century) and Skarlatos Kallimachis (18th - 19th century). In the meantime, in 1760 the community moved from the Thessalonikeos Monastery and established itself in the monydrion (monastic house) of the Ascension. The Thessalonikeos Monastery then took the name of Palaiomonastiron and became a dependency of the ruling Rossikon Monastery.
After the departure of the Turks, the Monastery continued its process of recovery and re-organisation under its Abbot Gerasimos of Drama, a man of many fine qualities. It was during his term of office that the first Russians began to arrive after their long absence. The mass inflow of Russian monks began by degrees to disturb the balance in the proportions of Greeks and Russians - with all the tensions which followed. Monks of Russian nationality had reached the figure of 1,000 in 1895 and until 1913 their numbers continued to rise. The troubles caused by the heresy of the 'Onomatolatres ' which developed at the Monastery drove many into exile, and in 1917 the Revolution in Russia finally cut off the recruitment of Russian monks.
The Monastery 's katholikon is dedicated to St Panteleimon and was built in the early 19th century. The Rossikon is famous for its bells, which in total weigh more than 20 tons, the largest of them weighing 13, with a diameter of 2.7 metres. The treasures of the Monastery include many noteworthy sacred vessels and vestments. Half the Monastery was gutted by fire in 1968. Its library houses around 1,320 manuscripts, of which 600 are in Slavonic, and more than 20,000 printed books. St Panteleimon once had metochia all over Russia. On the Holy Mountain it has five kellia. It occupies nineteenth place in the hierarchy of the monasteries and has 15 chapels within its precinct and 20 outside. Today it has around 50, mostly young, monks.
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