Vatopedi Monastery

Vatopedi Monastery

Sadly, Vatopedi with all its glory has ceased to defend Orthodoxy. Along with Xenophontos and Pantocratoros monasteries, against the rest of Athonite monasteries, Vatopedi has aligned itself with schismatics.
Highly disturbing allegations of criminal nature, allegedly coming from old monks of Athos, list a plethora of instances of persecution. This short note is given here within the main objective of to defend Orthodox monks of Athos. The following link is the publication of a long letter Athonite monks allegedly sent to the Greek Government.


The Holy Monastery of Vatopedi is located approximately in the middle of the north-eastern coast of the Athonian peninsula and in the eastern part of a large bay, formerly called the Port of Clement. Its name is usually accompanied by the designations "Laura", "Great" or "Greatest Monastery". The monastery was originally dedicated to the Intercession of the Lord and later to the Annunciation of the Virgin.

The monastery of Vatopedi occupies the second place in the hierarchy of the twenty Holy Monasteries of Mount Athos.

Establishment and development. The exact date of foundation of the Vatopedi monastery is not known. One tradition claims that it was founded by Constantine the Great (306–337), at a time when there were no monasteries either in Europe or Asia, and that it was destroyed by Julian the Transgressor. Then, out of gratitude, it was rebuilt by Theodosius the Great(379–395), as his son Arcadius, sailing to Rome, was shipwrecked and saved with the help of the Virgin Mary. He was found on the shores of the Athonian peninsula sleeping next to a bramble bush. That is why the monastery was named Vato-pediou. Of course, more plausible is the assumption that the name comes from the surrounding plain full of bramble bushes: Vatopedion = plain of bramble bushes. The attribution of the founding title to the emperor Theodosius the Great is not supported.

History again (and the biographer of Saint Athanasios of Athonite, second half of the 10th century) attributes the founding of the monastery to three brothers from Adrianople, Athanasios, Nikolaos and Antonios, who acted at the prompting of Athanasios Athonite. Since the signature and the name of its representative are missing from the Typikon Tsimiski (972), it is possible that it was founded after this date, in any case before 985, when "Nicolaos the monk and abbot of Vatopedi" signs as a representative in a deed of the First. who also appears in a deed of 1016. It seems that the Nicholas of the two deeds is not only the same person, but also one of the three brothers.

In 1080, the first privilege was granted to the monastery with a chrysobull of the emperor Nikephoros Botaneiatis.

The Typiko of Monomachos is signed by the abbot of Athanasios, third in line after Protos and the abbot of Lavra, which means that the monastery already has the second place in the hierarchy of the monasteries of Mount Oros. The name of Athanasios is found in documents from 1020 to 1048, while in 1142 the abbot of the monastery Antonios is witnessed.

Already in the middle of the 11th century, Constantinos Monomachos (1042–1055) grants the monastery a significant sum from the imperial treasury every year. From Alexios I (1081–1118) onwards, the Komnenians showed special favor to the Vatopedi monastery. At that time, many monodria were attached to it and turned into its accessories.

For the 12th century the information is minimal. At the end of it, however, Serbian monks appeared there, and even official ones, first Prince Rastko and then the father of the great zupanos Stefanos Nemanja, who were respectively renamed Savva and Simeon. These are the later founders of the Hilandariou monastery (1199) and saints of the Serbian Church. During the period of their stay in Vatopaidi they particularly helped in the expansion of the buildings, while afterwards all the Serbian rulers, and among them Stefanos Dušan in the middle of the 14th century, will become patrons and helpers of the monastery.

At the time of Saint Savvas, the monastery experienced great prosperity: it had a diverse brotherhood of 800 monks and five chapels. With the establishment of the Chilandari monastery, a kind of spiritual kinship developed between the two fraternities so that the custom prevailed (maintained to this day) at the festival of the Vatopedi monastery (March 25) that the Hilandari abbot predominates and at the festival of the Chilandari monastery (November 21) the Vatopedinos.

In the 13th century, the addition of the title "Vasiliki" to the name of the monastery (circa 1287) is an indication of its prosperity and is obviously connected with the rise to power of the Palaiologos dynasty. Its abbot now signs as the abbot of the first Lavra of Mount Athos.

Of course, after the failed attempt of the Philenotic emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1259–1282) to unite the Churches at the Synod of Lyon (1271), according to tradition, the Philenotics returning attacked the Mount and extorted the monks to embrace Philenotic ideas. The refusal of the Vatopedi brotherhood resulted in the hanging of the abbot of Efthymios and the drowning of twelve monks in the bay of Kalamitsi. But then, during the reign of Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282–1328), the monastery begins to flourish again, being strengthened financially, and recovers from the calamities as early as the first decades of the 14th century.

At this time, numerous hermits gathered in its area, like Grigorios Palamas in his first ascetic steps.

In 1362 the Vatopediou monastery definitively occupies the second place in the hierarchy of saints.

In 1423–1424, Mount Athos falls definitively into the hands of the Ottomans, with various adverse economic consequences. Until the 16th century, Vatopaidi tried to adapt to the new conditions, to survive and at the same time to develop.

During this period, two Athonite monks, Moses of Lavra and Dorotheos of Vatopedi, attended the meetings of the Synod of Florence (1439) and co-signed the union, which however was not accepted on Mount Athos. That is why Pope Pius II denounced the new abbots of the two monasteries as apostates. Also, Gennadios II (1454–1456), the first post-fall patriarch, when he resigned, fled to Vatopaidi, where he delivered an epitaph for his nephew Theodoros Sofianos, and stayed there from May to September 1456. in the same period, the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Makarios retires to Vatopediou and the Vatopedi abbot Manassis becomes the ecumenical patriarch with the name Maximos. In 1456 the king of Aragon Alfonso V (1416–1458) financially supported the monastery and later other rulers of the West, such as the Marquis of Momferrato William IX (1512) or George Morozini (1664), were interested in its integrity.

In 1489 the Vatopedi brotherhood numbered 330 monks.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Maximos Trivolis the Greek, the enlightener of the Russians, lived in Vatopediou for a decade, where he became a monk in 1505–1506. According to his testimony, the monastery then followed a semi-communal system of life, i.e. it functioned as a laura.

In 1569, all the holy lands were confiscated by Sultan Selim II to be bought again by the monasteries. The monastery of Vatopedi has, as can be seen from the recording of the contents of its treasury in 1596, relative economic comfort.

During this period it was financially supported by grants from Alexander IV Lapousneanos and his wife Roxandra, by the fundraisers allowed by Tsar Theodore Ivanovich (1588) and later thanks to the care of patriarchs, who were buried in the Vatopedi monastery, by Kyprian of Constantinople (after 1714 ) and Gerasimos II Palladas of Alexandria (1714). Although it did not prosper until the end of the 17th century, it never reached desolation and in 1677 the number of its monks reached 350. Of the shares it still held in the Greek countries, the most memorable are Ammouliani and Prosfori, today's Ouranoupoli . In the hegemonies over the Danube he acquired the shares of Myra and Barboi.

However, at the beginning of the 18th century the situation on Mount Athos was sad, mainly due to the heavy extraordinary levies for the war needs of the Turks. Vatopaidi, along with Lavra, Iberon and Chilandariou were among the monasteries that could meet their obligations with the loan system and, in case of need, take on the burdens of poorer monasteries. In 1743 BC, Mount Athos owed a fine of 20,000 grosci and an additional 2,800 grosci for military needs. Only the first three monasteries managed to pay their share, Lavra, Vatopaidi and Iviron. The following year the debt amounted to 102,448 grosci, two-thirds of which was distributed to the three monasteries and the rest to the other seventeen.

In the middle of the 18th century, its finances were so robust that, on the initiative of the Vatopedi hieromonk Meletios, the Athoniada Academy was founded on an adjacent hill, and the monastery took over the expenses for its operation (1748/1749–1809). The establishment of this school was the greatest contribution of the Vatopedi monastery to the slave Genos, since Athoniada was the largest Greek school in the Turkish-occupied area, reaching the number of 200 students, with the first head of the school was the hierodeacon Neophytos Kaufsokalivitis and his successor from 1753 to 1759 Evgenios Voulgaris.

According to the census of the population for the haratsi in 1808, Vatopaidi had 234 monks, of which 110 were inside the walls.

In the national struggle the monasteries offer cannons, ammunition, food and turn the coppersmiths into armories. Fifteen hundred monks led by Emmanuel Papa expel the Turks from Halkidiki. Then the monastery of Vatopedi, at the request of the Holy Community, charters a ship and transports food to Problakas to reinforce the army. All the monasteries of Mount Athos turn to her asking for rice and barley and call Vatopedi their saviors. After the inglorious end of this rebellion, destruction and reprisals followed throughout Mount Athos. while part of the relics of the Vatopedi monastery were captured by the Turks.

The problems from the failed revolution subsided after 1830 and Vatopaidi tried to return to its former glory. It takes advantage of older assets and adds new ones, while generously continuing its philanthropic work. In 1880 he offered money for the construction of the Great School of his Genus and in 1908 he donated 5,000 pounds to the Theological School of Halki. In 1912, he undertook the construction of the School of Languages in Constantinople. In addition, the teacher Paisios Kri (1801–1873), who had studied at the School of Quinces under Benjamin the Lesbius, began teaching in 1835 and in the monastery itself began the service of a school. The financial strength of the monastery is also demonstrated by the immediate reconstruction of its parts burned by the fires of 1854 and 1882, as well as by the construction of new buildings.

Vatopediou is considered to be the first monastery that introduced the idiosyncrasy (end of the 14th century) and with mutations (e.g. in 1574, when, following the actions of the Patriarch of Alexandria Silvestros, it was converted into a convent) it returned to it in the middle of the 17th century to maintained until 1989. In 1990, with the seal of Patriarch Demetrius I, it was converted into a synovial one, with a new escort under Fr. Joseph and its first abbot, Archimandrite Ephraim.

The catholicon of the Vatopedi monastery was built at the end of the 10th century or at the beginning of the 11th. Its typology is based on that of the Catholicos of the Great Lavra. It is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It was rebuilt in the 14th century, while in the 17th a two-story open portico was added. The oldest wall-painting layer of the temple dates back to 1312 and is one of the most important sets of Palaeologian art. It was painted over in 1789 and 1819. The katholikon preserves the unique wall mosaics of the 11th and 14th centuries preserved on Mount Athos. Its marble floor is of exquisite art. The door of the catholicon, the work of Laurentius in 1567, made of ebony and silver, is a delicate relief, with an excellent arrangement of decorative designs. The ornate wood-carved iconostasis is a work of 1788 and replaced the original marble and wood-carved ones of the 15th century. Fragments of both icons are preserved in the monastery.

Across from the entrance to the katholikon, the Trapeza is built in the shape of a cross. Its mural painting was done in 1786. It contains 30 horseshoe-shaped tables that come from the famous Studio Monastery of Constantinople.

The bell tower of the Vatopedi monastery, built in 1426, is the highest (35 meters) and the oldest dated on Mount Athos.


The iconostasis is located in the northern wing. It includes a large part of the 2,000 portable icons located in the monastery. Among them, many images of the Virgin Mary, with characteristic nicknames, such as "Odegetria", "Vimatarissa", "Antiphonatria", "Paramythia", "Pantanassa", "Eliaobrytissa", "Esfagmeni", "Ktitorissa". All are connected with the historical route of the monastery and with many traditions and miracles.

Worth remembering is the icon of Saint Demetrius (14th century), which represents the saint in a frontal bust, with a youthful face, holding a spear and a shield. Also, the mosaic images of the Crucifixion, Saint Anna with her daughter Maria and John Chrysostom should be mentioned. Also, in the Holy Altar of the Catholicon, there is a masterful image of Peter and Paul in a dialogue posture, dating back to the 15th century. In its upper part, Christ Emmanuel is represented in a bust blessing the two apostles. Finally, we should mention the small icons, the so-called ninia, of the empress Theodora, a gift from Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzenis, which are kept in a silver case and depict Christ in the shape of a blessing and the infant Virgin Mary.


The Vault of Vatopediou Monastery is located in the courtyard south of the bank. Many and rare relics are kept there, such as the colorful jasper glass (a gift from the despot Manuel Kantakuzenos Palaiologos, 1349–1380), gold and silver embroidered vestments as well as sacred vessels of many shapes and types.

Of the cases with historical value, the one containing the Belt of the Virgin, which was donated to the monastery by the Serbian ruler Lazarus I (1372–1389) is worth remembering—gold with precious stones and enamel icons. The belt, according to tradition, was woven by Empress Zoe, wife of Leo VI Sophos (886–912), and was originally placed in Blachernes and later in Hagia Sophia. It is unknown how it came into the hands of the Bulgarian king Kaloioannis and how it ended up in the hands of the Serbian ruler Lazarus I, who offered it to the monastery.

A library (scriptorium) functioned in the monastery, with particular activity during the 14th and 15th centuries. At the beginning of the 14th century, its first known codographer Kallistos, worked there, as did the hieromonk Chariton (around 1330). In the collection of the monastery there are several codices that were calligraphed during this period, with mainly theological content. A century later we meet Grigorios and Philotheos, who copied mainly liturgical books, possibly on the orders of Abbot Gennadios.

From the 16th century onwards, the names of the Vatopaidi codographers are constantly increasing. Scribes such as Hieromonk Nikephoros and Monk Cyril for the 16th century or Gregory of Laodicea and Gregory of Kalliergis for the 17th and 18th are known from one or more of their codices kept in the monastery library.

In the 19th century, despite the spread of the printed book, the copying activity in the monastery continued. Among the well-known scribes, it is worth mentioning the names of the hieromonk Ioasaph from Paros and the archimandrite Iakovos Vatopedinos, from whom at least 50 codices originate.


Iakovos Kofos

A typical type of Agiorite scholar is Iakovos Kofos. He spent his whole life, apart from the period of the revolution, on Mount Athos. He was probably born in Ioannina, probably before 1805, and is the nephew of the well-known scholar Theodoritos. From 1836 to 1881 he is constantly traced thanks to his notes in manuscripts that he created to secure his bread. As a scribe, he was highly respected in an era where the printed book had dominated and he received orders from dignitaries. The manuscript books he made amount to several dozen, but he never took care to print texts that he had compiled or collected himself. He was an indefatigable collector and classifier of material, with his attention directed mainly to ascetic texts. A collection of his is the Philokalia in two volumes and another of Gerontikus in one voluminous volume. Both contain the same texts as the old collections but augmented. He also devoted himself zealously to the translation of the same texts into modern Greek.

He possessed lyrical talent, which he devoted to writing numerous services for young and old saints.

Like his uncle Theodoritos, Iakovos Kofos dealt with the history of monasticism on Mount Athos. His main relevant work is Athonias, which contains an extensive history of Athonian life from the appearance of Christianity to his time. It was written at the request of the pillar of the Slavic movement Hieronymos, archimandrite of Panteleimonos monastery, and Azarias. He probably used for this work elements from the great history of Theodoritos, which had been saved. The work was completed in 1852, and the occasion for its compilation was the discussions that Porfirios Ouspensky had in the Panteleimon monastery, collecting material that he intended to use for his own studies.

Paisios Kallidouchos

Paisios Kallidouchos, originally from Ierapetra, was also an eminent scholar. Initially he taught in Constantinople and Nicomedia. He then settled on Mount Athos, where he also taught and took part in the spiritual movement in general. Also, the metropolitan of Hadrianoupolis, Grigorios, retired after his resignation to the monastery. He issued a sequence of the fifteen martyrs of Tiberiopolis.

Filaretos Vatopaidinos

Filaretos Vatopaidinos (†1873) was mainly a translator from Slavic and Russian into Greek. He came from Ismail in Bessarabia, an old port on the Danube. The first to find a translation of it is Evlogios Kourilas. It is a translation from the Russian edition of Porfirios Ouspensky that was printed in 1847. The translated text of Philaretos is from 1868 and is included in Manuscript 55 of the collection of the Joasaphians in the Skete of Kausokalyvia, with the title Catalog index of documents preserved in the Monasteries of Saint Athos. A manuscript (no. 717) by Filaretos is also found in Efstratiadis's catalog (see Bibliography). It is a collection of various prints and ancient manuscripts, stories and miracles of saints, written from 1865 to 1869, with a large part of it coming from Russian.


Also worth mentioning is the learned hierodeacon Arkadios (Asterios Theodorou, 1865–1934), originally from Prigiponnisa. He was a graduate of the Rizareio Ecclesiastical School and the Theological School of Halki. At his suggestion, the monastery undertook the publication of the Christotheia of Nektarios Kefalas. Arkadios was a teacher in the school of the monastery, rector of the Athonia School, representative in the Holy Community, member of the committee for the preparation of the Charter of Mount Athos and for thirty years librarian and archivist of the monastery.

His work is the compilation of the catalog of the Vatopedian codices, published in 1924 by Sophronios Efstratiadis, as well as the cataloging of part of the monastery's archive, following the work of Anthimos. In addition, in 1930, Arkadios wrote an (unpublished) history of the Vatopedi monastery, where for the first time anecdotal material from its archive was exploited.


The Library and Archives of Vatopedi Monastery are housed in one of its defensive towers, the tower of Panagia, where KF 15 were transferred in 1867. The Library contains 2,050 manuscripts, of which a third are parchments. It also has 25 parchment scrolls. The same tower also houses the collection of manuscripts of the Skete of Agios Demetrius, as well as part of the 40,000 books, many of which are archetypes and ancient ones, while the newer ones are housed on a floor of the central part of the north wing.

The first evidence of the existence of a library in the monastery can be found in the Proskynitarium of Ioannis Komnenos, in 1698, which mentions the existence of two storage areas for books, one above the narthex and the other in the sacristy: "Above the narthex is the library of a rich man, and another in the safekeeping, and of many unused books".

The oldest known manuscript written for the Vatopedi monastery dates back to 1021–1022 and is an order of Abbot Athanasios (one of its three founders). Today it is in the Moscow Historical Museum. The oldest, also commissioned, but located in the monastery, is a Tetraevangelio from 1263. The only known fact is that it was written during the abbotship of Arsenios.

Many rulers offer Vatopedi valuable codes. In the middle of the 14th century, the monastery receives a donation of 26 luxurious manuscripts from the emperor John Cantakuzenos; among them is a Gospel of 1340–1341 with exquisite decoration from the Monastery of Odigeon in Constantinople. Other codices will be dedicated by, among others, the emperor Andronikos II Paleologos, the despots Manuel and Andronikos Paleologos, the ruler of Serbia John Uglesis.

Many other important volumes seem to have joined the collection at the same time, but there is no evidence of their provenance. Such is the codex with the "Panegyric" of the emperor Leo the Wise from the 10th century, the Codex 84 from the 9th century, with valuable hagiographic content, and certainly the illustrated codices with works by Ptolemy and Strabo as well as the codex with the Octateuch .

In the 16th and 17th centuries many manuscripts were added from the personal collections of its well-known learned monks. Of the many such cases, the library of the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Makarios, who died in 1546, and of Synesios El(l)anikos in the 17th century, who was also a scribe, stands out.

Other manuscripts entered the library from the legacy of famous Vatopedian monks, such as Gregory of Adrianoupolis, as well as from the monastery's shares in the Danubian hegemonies.

However, in this period it seems that the loss of manuscripts begins. The first known case is that of the scholar Nikolaos Sofianos (16th century), but it is not known how many and which manuscripts he removed. In contrast, there is much evidence of the Russian monk Arseniy Sukhanov, who in 1653–1655 brought 64 Vatopedian manuscripts to Moscow to be used in the correction of Russian church books undertaken by the then Russian patriarch. Most of these codices are today in the Historical Museum of Moscow, while others are scattered in St. Petersburg, Dresden and Kharkiv.

According to Vasily Barski, from his second visit to the Vatopedi monastery in 1744, next to the katholikon chapels there was a small library, in which there were more than 200 manuscript codices with liturgical and theological content, some on parchment and others on paper. The great Library, as well as the Vault, are located above the container (storehouse), on the south side of the bank. The Library has, according to Barski, "around two thousand different books, handwritten and printed, leather and paper, old and new, Greek, Latin-Greek and Latin, spiritual and non-spiritual, even hard to find. ... Also, I saw ... an interpretation of the Gospel by Chrysostom the saint, on parchment, engraved by the hand of the king John Kantakouzenos, who was renamed, taking that angelic shape, to Joasaph the monk".

The Library's occasional new acquisitions seem to have been kept in the Vault, which was inaccessible to visitors. Thus the travelers see the manuscripts in the catechisms, where their preservation was defective, and they describe it in black colors.

In 1837 Robert Curzon visited the monastery. About her Library she writes that, although it contains 4,000 printed books, there is not a single ancient copy among them, while in terms of content they are limited only to theology. There are also about 1,000 manuscripts, of which 300 to 400 are written on parchment. Among them three copies of works by Ioannis Chrysostomos. Also noteworthy are six scrolls with festive liturgical texts and wishes for the consecration of new churches.

Antoninos Kapustin (1859) gives more specific information about the storage areas: "In Barski's time, the library was located in two places, far from each other, in the catholicon and near the sacristy... Now the libraries have been united and are located in two ugly rooms on the upper floor of the narthex of the catholicon. In the first room are the printed books, while in the back room are the manuscripts."

In 1867 the tower of Panagia was renovated and the library of manuscripts and printed matter was placed on its second floor. I.M. Raptarchis, a traveler at the same time in the Vatopedi monastery, captures the new situation, echoing Curzon: "The library, although composed of four thousand volumes of printed matter and approximately one thousand manuscripts, in three or four hundred parchments, contains nothing of note, apart from the usual Gospels and other paternal books; and it is well preserved, it occupied the upper ceiling of a tower that was purposely repaired not much".

In 1874 G.A. Nikolopoulos describes the image of the second floor of the library: "In one of the seven high towers, there is the amazing library of the Monastery. This treasure of ecclesiastical philology and various other precious books is found in the tower; it is contained in 12 elegant cases made of glass, placed in a circle of the spacious roof. The cases have two faces: one internally and one externally. The interior is filled with handwritten books made of membrane, most of them ecclesiastical, dating back to the nineteenth century; most of these voluminous books contain an image worthy of great observation and admiration. ... The exterior contains mostly Greek philosophy and church history publications; all the books are well bound and gilded. In the middle there is a bank for those who want to read any book they want".

During the 19th century, many code shifts take place, mainly codes of classical content. In 1802 the English traveler Clarke brought to London the famous codex with the speeches of the ten Attic orators, which seems to have been included in the donation of Ioannis Kantakouzenos, while in 1841–1843 the Greek philologist and representative of the New Greek Enlightenment Minas Menoidis sent on behalf of of the French government several manuscripts or parts of manuscripts, which are now in the National Library of France. Smaller in scope, but equally important, were the thefts of Constantinos Simonides, who in 1853 cut and sold to the British Museum a sheet of the famous codex with Ptolemy's Geography, and of the Russian Archimandrite Porphyry Ouspensky, who also took sheets of codexes.


The Archive of the Vatopedi Monastery includes 310,000 documents, including numerous chrysobulas and sigils.

The presence of documents from the first decades of the monastery indirectly indicates the starting point of the archive. However, the first evidence of its existence comes from the Russian traveler Vasily Barsky (1744). At that time the Archive was housed in the Vault. In 1901 it was moved to the tower of Panagia, where it remains until today.

The first indications of systematic recording and classification of documents date back to the end of the 19th century. The next record dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and is due to the archivist Anthimos and the hierodeacon Benjamin. Then a large volume of documents from 1645 onwards was assembled, in chronological order, into 150 codices. The oldest and most important documents remained loose and were sorted by language into subject categories. At the same time, the two monks compiled content lists of the loose documents. These lists were later completed by the monks Alexander and Arkadius and by the previous Theophilos. The consolidation tactic was followed by subsequent archivists until 1959. After the last initiative, the codes reached 282.

Also of particular interest are the voluminous personal files of prominent brothers of the monastery, such as Grigorios Irinoupolis, Anthimos Vatopaidinos, who was also archivist, and Archimandrite Iakovos Vatopaidinos.

The Greek archive of Vatopedi includes documents, accounts, archival codes, letters and other material from the first years of its foundation until the 20th century. Chronologically, the material is classified into three conventional periods, the Byzantine (10th–15th centuries), the modern (16th–18th centuries) and the modern (19th–20th centuries).

The documents of the Byzantine period amount to 250 and constitute the largest collection on Mount Athos. The oldest dates back to a little after the middle of the 10th century and is a copy of a libel of a Byzantine official. Important documents of the period are also the imperial and patriarchal ones. The oldest imperial document is a copy of a chrysobull of the emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiatis (1080), while the oldest patriarchal document is a sealed letter of the patriarch Isidoros I (1347).

The record of the later period (16th–18th centuries) is not particularly rich, due to Ottoman rule, as many types of documents were now issued by the Ottoman administration and were written in the Turkish language. In addition to documents, the collection of this period also includes financial records.

The archival material of the 19th and 20th centuries, i.e. the modern period, is particularly voluminous (300,000 documents) and constitutes the largest part of the Greek Vatopedi archive.

The Ottoman archive of Vatopedi is one of the largest on Mount Athos. It includes various types of documents that refer to various matters of the monastery and its shares, such as real estate purchases and dedications, tax collection, building permits, etc. In the same category belong the appointments (beratia) of six archpriests who retired to Vatopaidi after the end of their episcopal term, the hodgetia, i.e. the decisions of local ecclesiastical judges on various matters of the monastery, mainly property, as well as the receipts for the payment of the head tax ( tax) which corresponded to Vatopaidi.

Of greatest interest are the 150 sultanic firmans, issued on various administrative and fiscal matters, with the oldest dating back to 1405.

The Romanian archive of Vatopedi is the largest of its kind on Mount Athos and consists of 12,650 documents (some richly decorated), maps, archival codices and accounts. This material, which dates from the 15th to the 19th century, is mainly in the Romanian language, but also includes 874 Greek documents, 464 Russian, 285 Slavonic and a small number of Turkish, Armenian, Serbian, etc. documents. The oldest document dates back to 1428 and was issued by the Moldavian ruler Alexander the Good.

Also, documents in the Latin language are kept in the Archive of the monastery. The recommendation letter of the king of Aragon Alfonso V (1456) for monks of the monastery, who were traveling in his country for the purpose of begging, stands out.


The compilation of the Library's manuscript collection began in the first years after the foundation of the monastery. It continued gradually with the addition of codices written either by Vatopedinians or by order of the monastery or again they came from personal collections of its monks, from purchases and dedications. From time to time the collection suffered losses from theft or movement of volumes and more rarely from disasters. A number of manuscripts are today in foreign libraries.

The conservation work of the collection began in the 19th century and began with the transfer of the library to the safe tower of Panagia. In 1869, most of the codices were beheaded by monks of the Vatopedino hermitage of Agios Dimitrios, the hierodeacon Anthimos Vatopedinos and the monk Savvas. At the same time, the cataloging of the manuscripts began, which was completed in 1924 with the publication of the catalog of Arkadios Vatopaidinos by Sophronio Efstratiadis.

In recent decades the collection has been significantly enriched due to random events. In 1986, during the restoration work of the catholicon, a significant number of manuscript codices and fragments, as well as printed books, archetypes and archetypes, including works by classical authors, were found on the roof of the chapel of Saint Demetrius. Also, during the research in the Vault of the monastery, above the container, in 1993, 21 additional manuscripts, unknown to the scientific world, were discovered.

The collection of manuscripts of the Vatopedi Monastery currently numbers 2,058 manuscripts, among them nine Slavic, two Latin, and one Arabic-Greek, while 26 are parchment scrolls. These include the manuscripts of the Skete of Saint Demetrius.

The Vatopedi Monastery did not allow Spyridon Lambros to work in its Library, because it wanted to publish a catalog of its manuscripts. He partially succeeded after twenty-five years, when Sophronios Efstratiadis in collaboration with Arkadios presented a catalog describing 1,530 manuscripts of the monastery (Paris 1924).

A catalog of the manuscripts of the Skete of Saint Demetrius was compiled by E. Lamberz and Efthymio Litsa and published in 1978 by the Patriarchal Foundation of Paternal Studies in Thessaloniki.

In terms of content, most of them are liturgical and theological manuscripts, but there are not a few that deliver texts from ancient Greek literature. The monastery of Vatopedi is the second in number of works of classical and late antiquity after the monastery of Iberon. The codices cover a variety of subjects, apart from ecclesiastical and religious, and date from the late 9th to the 19th century.

The manuscript collection also contains 396 pieces of music, covering the entire period from the 11th to the 20th century. In terms of content, all known groups of musical manuscripts are represented in the monastery's collection, as well as works by the most important church composers, such as Petros Bereketis and Anastasios Rapsaniotis. The oldest dated musical codex that is known and belonged to the Vatopedi monastery is today in the library of Saint Petersburg. It is a parchment stichary, written in the Vatopedi monastery on May 3, 1106.

Among the earliest codices is an illustrated Psalter of 1088. The illustration is not associated with the psalms but with the life of David, and the miniatures that adorn this tiny codex are typical of aristocratic psalters.

A valuable manuscript from the monastery's library is the 13th century parchment Octateuchos (Code 602), which contains six of the books of the Old Testament. This incomplete Octateuchos is artistically associated with the manuscripts produced during the Latin occupation of Constantinople. Richly illustrated, it stands out for the gold-plated breastplates of the Amorite kings in front of the throne of Joshua.

Finally, let us mention the famous Codex 655 with the works of Ptolemy and Strabo of the 13th/14th century, which, apart from its rich decoration, is the most complete manuscript of the author of the Geographies. The grand Geographical Narrative of Ptolemy includes forty-two maps of three continents (Europe, (North) Africa and Asia) well drawn and in every detail, containing in small rectangular boxes the numerous toponyms for the sea, mountains, plains and rivers.

Printed books

The Library of the Vatopedi Monastery currently has approximately 40,000 volumes (27,000 titles) of publications.

About the library of forms and how it was enriched through the centuries we are better informed thanks to Triantafyllos E. Sclavenitis.

Sources of the printed material, which began to be collected in the 16th century, are on the one hand the personal libraries of various scholars of the monastery's brothers, on the other hand the purchases or donations of both dependent monks and various other clergy and laity. From the notes preserved on the books, information can be derived, leading to smaller or larger collections of books that were included in the monastery's Library.

One of the first known cases of bequeathing a personal collection (manuscripts and printed matter) is that of Makarios Papageorgopoulos of Zakynthos, Metropolitan of Thessaloniki (1465–1546). He lived the last years of his life in the monastery of Vatopedi and more than ten of his manuscripts and at least two annotated editions of 1517 and 1521 are preserved in its library. And Synesios/Symeon El(l)anikos, scholar and bibliographer of 17th century, in the following century he bequeathed his own library, from which some forms were found, editions 1503–1555, where there is his founding note. He had in his possession a remarkable library of mainly ancient Greek literary works, while he himself was a scribe of manuscripts and author of sequences to neomartyrs. The previous owner of some of the Synesium's publications was the Zakynthian scholar monk John Bonafes.

Also, two archival testimonies from the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century indicate other sources of enrichment of the library, and in fact one collection was located in the East and the other in the West: the teacher Theodoulos Vatopaidinos dies in Moudania in 1789 and the 45 books of (of which seven manuscripts) passed into the hands of the commissioner metropolitan of Prussia and later to the commissioner of Vatopedi in Constantinople (1790) to finally end up in the library of the monastery. The second collection comes from Abramios, who was an archimandrite and vicar in Vienna. In 1802 he writes to the monastery that he sent with his colleague Prokopios Kartsiotis, from Trieste, one hundred grosci and "a chest of up to four books of value, to be kept in the Monastery until the Lady Theotokos directs me to come and meet with the my colleagues".

Other large collections incorporated in the 19th c. in the Library are of Gregory of Irinoupolis, Gregory of Adrianoupolis and Ananias Vatopaidinos.

In 1867, as already mentioned, the printed library was moved to the tower of Panagia and in 1869–1870 new collections were made by Anthimos Vatopedinos. At the same time, their cataloging began by the hierodeacon Neophytos Vatopedinos and the previous Kyrillos, which culminated in the compilation of the handwritten catalog of 1880 ("Named Catalog of Printed Books in the Library of the Holy and Venerable Monastery of Vatopedi"), where they are recorded alphabetically by author 1,683 titles, corresponding to 3,749 volumes.

A more recent cataloging and arrangement was done by Arkadios Vatopedinos—in 1923 of the second floor and in 1924 of the first floor. The publications totaled 7,116 (5,600 titles) for the two floors.

The remaining publications, located on the ground floor, were described in the period 1934–1955 and their number reached 8,126 volumes (6,440 titles).

From 1935 onwards, the publications added to the library exceed 23,000 titles. Today, the 27,000 books of the new library housed in the north wing, which include the small collections of sketes, cells and sleeping monks and 4,000 Russian books from the hermitage of Saint Andrew, remain unregistered.

Archetypes are not treasured in the library of Vatopedi and the oldest printed book dates back to 1515: it is a Grammar by Theodoros Gazis, printed in Florence by the workshop of Filippo Iudas. Among the huge number of publications, two works by Greek originalists of the 16th century, Zacharias Kalliergis and Arsenios Apostolis, stand out; these are the Elections of Thomas the Magister (Rome 1517) and the Commentaries on Homer's Iliad, edited by Yanos Laskaris, which were printed at the printing press of the Hellenic Gymnasium in Rome, in 1517 as well. Valuable and rare books are also the second edition of the Epigrams of Maximos Planoudis, printed at the printing house of Aldos in Venice in 1521, as well as the Thesaurus of the Greek Language by Errikos Stefanos, which was published in Geneva in 1572. Let us mention here the rarest a copy that survives from the edition of Chrismos i.e. Prophecy of Hieromonach Agathangelos, which was allegedly printed in Agathoupolis, but is attributed to Rigas Velestinlis and was printed in Vienna in 1790 or a year later.


Library of Congress Βιβλιοθήκη της Ιεράς Μεγίστης Μονής Βατοπαιδίου

Notable monks
Joseph Vatopedinos
Efraim Vatopedinos


Videos on Vatopedi Monastery


Average: 4.7 (22 votes)

Business, like a hotel, no spirituality

Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

A Cypriot monastery.

Average: 5 (5 votes)

A monk who claims he is with Vatopedi maintains a site at
I will only say this, sad, very sad for Vatopedi and Orthodoxy.

Average: 5 (1 vote)

"Για αυτούς τους λόγους δεν πήγα στο Βατοπαίδι. Διότι αυτοί που διοικούν την Μονή, κατέληξα στο συμπέρασμα ότι δεν ορρωδούν παντελώς, αλλά εμπαίζουν και τον Θεό και τους ανθρώπους. Και για μένα είναι θεομπαίχτες”."
Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κύπρου Χρυσόστομος

No votes yet

Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κύπρου Χρυσόστομος
"Επειδή αναφερθήκατε στον μητροπολίτη Λεμεσού που προερχόταν από τη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου… Eίχατε μια διαχρονική αντιπαράθεση με το Βατοπαίδι και τους Βατοπαιδινούς. Γιατί δεν τα πηγαίνατε καλά;

Ο γέροντάς του και οι πρώτοι Βατοπαιδινοί, ο Εφραίμ, ο Αθανάσιος κ.ά., ήσαν κοντά μου. Ήταν παιδάκια με κοντά παντελόνια και ήταν στον Σταυρό της Μύθης, εκεί που είναι το γκολφ σήμερα. Ήσαν όλοι επτά… ήσαν όλοι παλιόπαιδα και όταν το πληροφορήθηκα ότι δεν ήσαν σωστοί είπα στον γέροντά τους να σηκωθεί να φύγει. Τους ξεσήκωσε ούλλους και έφυγαν. Θα τους έδιωχνα ούτως ή άλλως."

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.