The Gregoriou Monastery is situated on the southwest side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Dionysiou and Simonopetra. Gregoriou originally was dedicated to the St. Nicholas but later was renamed in honor of its founder, Gregory. It is ranked seventeenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula.
The monastery was founded by St. Gregory of Mount Athos (Younger) in the 14th century when he came to Mount Athos to pursue asceticism. Over the next several centuries little is known about the monastery other than that it suffered serious damage from raiders and in 1761 from a fire. Barsky, an 18th century Russian visitor, observed that restoration work had been done in 1500, and also noted that the fire of 1761 had destroyed many of the heirlooms and documents then held by the monastery. Additional damage was incurred during the Greek revolution against the Turkish sultan in 1821. Restoration work at Gregoriou monastery that had been accomplished over the years was supported by various benefactors including the princes of Moldavia, Phanariotes, archbishops of Hungro-Wallachia. Even a few Turkish sultans provided aid.
The katholikon, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was built in 1768 and follows the Athonite style. The frescos in the katholikon were done in 1779 by the monks Gabriel and Gregory from Kastoria. The frescos present scenes from the Old Testement. A narthex was added to the katholikon in 1846, under the direction of Neofitos, the abbot. The monastery also contains ten chapels as well as four cells in the administrative center Karyes.
As noted above much of the older treasures of the monastery were lost in the fires of 1761 and the warfare of 1821. Those treasures that the monastery now holds are kept in the katholikon. These treasures include icons of the Virgin Galatotrophousa and Virgin Pantanassa, relics of saints (the relics of St, Gregory were believed taken by some Serbian monks), and various liturgical objects.
The monastery library holds 297 manuscripts, many other documents, and some 4,000 books. These include the only existing manuscript copy of the Shepherd of Hermas a work that dates back to the first century.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.