As part of his official visit to the Holy Mountain, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness Bartholomew II, has just been to the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopaidi.
He was met at the gates by the entire brotherhood, to the accompaniment of a carillon from the Monastery’s bells. In accordance with tradition, he was invested with a cloak and presented with a staff before proceeding to the main church where a doxology was sung and he reverenced the holy relics preserved in the Monastery, including the Monastery’s most precious treasure, the Belt of the Mother of God, as well as the foot of his patron saint, the Apostle Bartholomew, which came to the Monastery in a miraculous manner.
After the doxology, a short memorial service was then held at the graveside of Elder Iosif Vatopaidinos, the great renovator and spiritual father of the Monastery, who went to his rest in the Lord on 1 July 2009.
When the memorial service was finished, he went to the Common Room of the Monastery, where he addressed the assembly of the brotherhood, bringing them up to date on a number of matters from his activity.
After this, His All-Holiness was taken for a meal into the historical refectory, one of the oldest on the Holy Mountain and certainly one of the most welcoming.
Although naturally somewhat tired from his many obligations, the Patriarch was determined not to miss a visit the Monastery’s sacristy, where priceless treasures of enormous interest are kept, the result of a magnificent history of more than a thousand years. These include chrysobulls from emperors, sigillia from patriarchs, beautiful manuscripts, Church vessels and fine vestments.
A commemorative photograph was then taken of the Patriarch, together with the Abbot of the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopaidi, Elder Efraim, Metropolitans which were present at the event and the remainder of the Community. At the end, there was time for His All-Holiness to plant a tree.
This was followed by a visit to the Monastery’s oil-press. Built in the 19th century, down by the sea, it is now one of the largest and most technically advanced on the Holy Mountain.
This completed the program of His All-Holiness’ visit and, in the last few minutes, he has been accorded a fond farewell by the whole brotherhood.