The Holy Monastery of Iveron was founded towards the end of the 10th century by St John the Iberian (i.e., Georgian), a little after the founding of the Monastery of the Megiste Lavra and of Vatopedi. St John was a companion of St Athanasius. His foundation soon attracted others from his homeland. Among them was his brother-in-law Ioannes Tornicius. Tornicius, as a monk, was summoned by Basil II, Emperor of Byzantium, and together they put down the revolt of the general Bardas the Cruel. The spoil and donations from the Emperor made it possible to enlarge the older Monastery of Clement, and thus the Iveron Monastery came into being. St John and his son St Euthymius - co-founder of the Monastery and later its Abbot - are recognised as Apostles to the Iberians (people of the Caucasus).
At an early stage other, smaller, religious houses were added to the property of Iveron, such as that of Leontios in Thessaloniki, of Ioannes Colobus at Ierissos, of St Sabbas at Chaldos, and of Caspacos. In the 14th century it suffered damage at the hands of Catalan pirates and those favouring a union with the Western Church. However, the Monastery managed to recover, with the generous help of the Palaeologues and the Princes of Serbia and Georgia. In the difficult times of the 16th century various Georgian princes proved benefactors of the Monastery and rescued it from its economic difficulties.
The Iveron Monastery is the home of the Holy Mountain’s protecting icon - that of Our Lady Portaitissa. In 1651 a copy of this icon was sent to Moscow at the request of the Tsar 's family. The miracles worked there by the Theotokos assisted in the collection of funds, and the Monastery of St Nicholas in Moscow was ceded to Iveron. The Monastery was twice the victim of fires - in 1740 and 1845 - but the fire which reduced Iveron to ashes was that of 1865. At the time of the Greek War of Independence, the Monastery gave its treasures to support the Struggle, while for a time it was the home of the Patriarch Grigorios V, a martyr in the national cause. The last Georgian monk died in 1955. Iveron holds third place in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries, and has been a coenobium since 1990.
The katholikon is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. Its initial nucleus was built towards the end of the 10th century, altered in the early 11th century, and rebuilt in 1513. Among the Monastery 's famous treasures is the lemon tree - a silver seven-branched lamp - and the door between the exonarthex and the lite made of silver and ebony. It also possesses the so-called dalmatic of Ioannes Tsimiskes, the episcopal vestments of Patriarch Dionysios IV, a Gospel book which was the gift of Peter the Great, sacred vessels, vestments and embroideries, and the relics of at least 150 saints. The library of Iveron contains more than 2,000 manuscripts and 15 liturgical scrolls, and more than 20,000 books, with important incunabula. This monastery, which has produced many saints and scholars, also owns the Skete of St John the Baptist, 11 kathismata, and 26 kellia. It has 16 chapels within its precincts and 10 outside, and the community today numbers around 30 monks.
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