Holy Monastery of Stavronikita

The Holy Monastery of Stavroniketa is the smallest in size on the Holy Mountain. It is on the eastern side of the peninsula between the Monasteries of Iveron and Pantocrator, looking towards the Strymonic Gulf. Its history, like that of the other monasteries, has been a turbulent one.

Its earliest history is lost in the depths of the 10th and 11th centuries. Uncertain evidence allows us simply to conjecture that a certain Nicetas or Stavronicetas Nicephorus, an officer of Tsimiskes, was the founder. The Monastery went into decline in the 12th century as a result of pirate raids and in the 13th came under the control of the Koutloumousiou Monastery, while in the 16th century it was already a dependency of Philotheou. In 1533, the Abbot of the Geromeriou Monastery, the priest-monk Grigorios, bought Stavroniketa from Philotheou and worked hard to revitalise it. By a patriarchal sigillium of the same year it was recognised as a stavropegic monstery. In 1541, the Ecumenical Patriarch Ieremias I did his very best to refound the Monastery and to see that it functioned once again, thus continuing the work of Grigorios. He endowed Stavroniketa with important metochia at Kassandra and on Lemnos. The Monastery returned to the coenobitic system. The katholikon had been completed for at least five years when its interior was decorated in 1546 with paintings of the famous representative of the Cretan School Theophanis and his son Symeon. The church is dedicated to St Nicholas. The refectory of the Monastery was also decorated by Theophanis, who was responsible for the depiction of the Twelve Great Feasts on portable icons.


Holy Monastery of Stavronikita

In the course of its history, the Monastery has suffered five times from fires - in 1607 a large part of its buildings was reduced to ashes. In the 17th century, Serban Kantakouzinos, Prince of Wallachia, provided the Monastery with a water supply. In the next century, Alexandros Ghikas, also Prince of Wallachia, proved a its benefactor by presenting it with the Monastery of the Holy Apostles in Bucharest. The Monastery was burnt down again in 1741, 1864, 1874, and 1879, the last of these fires being the most destructive. Like the other monasteries, Stavroniketa was brought to its knees by the excessive taxes which it had to pay to the Turks. Its debt was paid as the result of superhuman efforts on the part of the Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery, Theophilos. The arrival of a new brotherhood in 1968 saw its conversion from an idiorrhythmic monastery into a coenobium. It holds fifteenth position in the hierarchy of the 20 monasteries. One of the most valued of the Monastery's treasures is the icon of St Nicholas known as 'Streidas', a work of the 13th - 14th century. Stavroniketa has in its possession 171 manuscripts and a large number of printed books. Of particular importance is a Psalter of the 12th century with gold lettering (parchment codex No. 46). Its dependencies consist of 33 kalyves in the settlement of Kapsala, and four kellia. The Monastery has four chapels and two outlying chapels. At present it has some 30 monks.

Map of Mount Athos