Skete of St. Andrew (Athos)
The Skete of Saint Andrew, also the Skete of Apostle Andrew and Great Anthony in Karyes is a monastic institution on Mount Athos. It is a dependency of Vatopaidi Monastery and is the site of the Athonias Ecclesiastical Academy.
The Skete had its origins when Athanasius II (Pattelarus) as Patriarch of Constantinople retired to Mount Athos in the mid fifteenth century after the fall of Constantinople and settled in a Monastic House on the site of the old Monastery of Xistrou that he dedicated to St. Anthony the Great. This house later became the foundation of the Skete. In 1761, Patr. Serapheim II of Constantinople also retired to Mt. Athos and replaced the old house with a new building that he dedicated to the Apostle Andrew as well as St. Anthony.
In 1841, Patr. Serapheim's house was given by the Monastery of Vatopaidion to two Russian monks, Bessarion and Barsanouphios. Initially known as the Cell of St. Anthony, in 1842, the monastics, under the sponsorship of the Tsar of Russia, began expanding their residence. With its expansion, Patr. Anthimus VI of Constantinople recognized the St. Anthony Cell as a Skete in 1849. The Skete is called that because the customs and statute of Mount Athos precludes the establishment of new monasteries besides those of the Byzantine era.
With the continued growth of the Skete in monastic numbers , a central church, dedicated to St. Andrew, was built in 1867 and consecrated in 1900 by Patriarch Joachim III of Constantinople. The church is the largest on Mount Athos and is amongst the largest in the Balkans. As the twentieth century began the Skete had grown greatly. Prior to World War I the population of the Skete included 700 to 800 Russian monks. But, the events of the war period brought disastrous results as the potential for monks from Russia disappeared.
In 1958, the western wing of the Skete and library were destroyed by fire and, in 1971, the last monk of the old community, Mnk. Sampson, died. The community became deserted. In 1992 a new, Greek-speaking brotherhood brought new life to the Skete. In 2001, several young monks joined in community and, with a new Abbot, Archimandrite Ephraim, brought promise of a bright and hopeful future.