St. Paul's Monastery (Athos)
|Holy Monastery of Saint Paul|
|Rank or attached monastery||Thirteenth|
|Type of community||Cenobitic Monastery|
|Founded||~972 by St Pavlos Xeropotaminos; re-founded late 14th century|
|Approx. size||41 (at 1990)|
|Music used||Byzantine chant|
|Feastdays celebrated||Presentation of Christ|
The Monastery of St. Paul is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the western foot of the peninsula at the base of a spectacular cliff. It is thirteenth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The name of St. Paul is derived from the founder, St Pavlos Xeropotaminos (in English, Paul).
The monastery was founded in the tenth century by St Pavlos Xeropotaminos, and first mentioned in 972. A traditional rivalry with Great Lavra developed, evidently due to the controversies surrounding the advocacy of the 'super' monastery style by St. Athanasios of Great Lavra. After being founded, it is again mentioned in 1259; after the Catalan raids, St. Paul's was downgraded to a kellion, only to be raised again in the third quarter of the 1300s. Serbian rulers supported the monastery in the 1400s; after 1453, rulers of Eastern Europe supported the monastery.
Due to the various attacks around and near the Holy Mountain, St Paul's was partially destroyed many times. There was also a particularly destructive fire at the end of the 19th Century. Some of the buildings,including the main Katholikon, that constitute the current monastery have been rebuilt, and all the buildings date from different periods of history.
The katholikon was built just before the tenth century in the Athonite style. The monastery has twelve chapels attached to it, most notably St. George's chapel, painted in 1555, by the monk Antonios in the Cretan style of iconography
The treasury is home to the second largest piece of the precious True Wood of the Cross in existence (the largest piece, at Xeropotamou Monastery (Athos) is also associated with St. Paul), as well as all of the incomparable Gifts of the Magi - gold pieces with the original frankincense and myrrh beads sown on to them.
In addition to many relics, the monastery possesses treasures such as portable icons, liturgical vessels, heirlooms--the mitre and staff of the late Bishop Phillip of Atlanta was donated to St. Paul's. The monastery has library of about 12,500 printed books and 494 manuscripts.
St. Paul's Monastery is the southwesternmost monastery on the Athos Peninsula. Although it is easier to reach by sea, it is the start of an important road that traverses the length of the peninsula to Karyes and beyond. Dionysiou Monastery, New Skete and St. Anne Skete are all easily accessible by trail from St. Paul.