Mount Athos is the spiritual heart of the Orthodox world. From its beginnings in the ninth century it attracted monks from all corners of the Byzantine empire and beyond to experience its seclusion, its sanctity, and its great natural beauty. The first monastery, founded in 963, was an international institution from the start; by the end of the twelfth century separate monasteries had been founded t only for Greeks but also for Georgians, Amalfitans, Russians, Serbs, and Bulgarians. Nationality, however, has rarely counted for much on Athos, and though the Romanians have never secured a monastery for themselves, today they form, after the Greeks, the largest ethnic group. This book tells the story of how these many traditions came to be represented on the Mountain and how their communities have fared over the centuries. Most of the papers were originally delivered at a conference convened by the Friends of Mount Athos at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, in 2009. As far as possible, the authors were chosen to write about the traditions that they themselves represent.
Graham Speake studied classics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was awarded a doctorate by the University of Oxford for a thesis on the Byzantine transmission of ancient Greek literature. He is the founder and secretary of the Friends of Mount Athos and author of Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise (2002), for which he was awarded the Criticos Prize. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Kallistos Ware holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Oxford where from 1966 to 2001 he was a Fellow of Pembroke College and Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies. He is a monk of the monastery of St John the Theologian, Patmos, and an assistant bishop in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. In 2007 he was raised to the rank of metropolitan.