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 Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.