The Mount Athos constitutes the ark of Orthodoxy. Today it is made up of 20 monasteries and other monastic foundations, such as sketes, cells, hermitages. Its capital is Karyes. Athonite monastic life begins in 843, upon arrival at Mount Athos, of two great personalities: Saint Peter of Athonite and Saint Athanasius of Athonite. This Mount, according to the Mount Athos tradition, was visited by the Virgin when it was inhabited by pagans. When the pagans stumbled upon the Virgin Mary, they marveled at her beauty and said that only one goddess could have such beauty. Our Lady blessed this Mount and, like her own orchard, filled it with devoted people, living in virginity and purity.
In order to secure these children in her orchard, in order to be able to worship God inexplicably, Her will was to remain uninhabited, immune from everything that could have avoided the monastic sanctity of the monks. That is why Mount Athos, for over a thousand years now, lives immune from the women. And it has implanted within people, especially women, respect, love and fear towards Mount Athos. Our Virgin Mary has also secured the sanctity of her children, the monks, by not allowing not only the female sex but also every female animal. So that the monks are totally and unconcerned to devote themselves to their lonely duties, and through them to proceed to holiness.