Zographou Monastery (Athos)
The Holy Monastery of Zographou is located on the southwestern side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece. The monastery is dedicated to St. George. According to tradition, the monastery was founded during the tenth century by three Bulgarian brothers, the monks Moses, Aaron, and John from Ohrid. While the monastery initially was inhabited by Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian monks, since 1845 the monks are only Bulgarians. Zographou is ranked ninth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula.
The earliest record of the Zographou is from 980. During its early years the monastery was well supported by Bulgarian rulers, especially Ivan Asen II and Ivan Alexander. Zographou also received land endowments from the Byzantine emperors and Serbian and Romanian rulers.
As were many of the Athonite monasteries at the time Zographou suffered from raids by the pirates in the Mediterranean Sea, especially during the thirteenth century when the peninsula was ruled by Frankish forces after they had conquered Constantinople in 1204. In 1275, Catalan pirates made a major raid for plunder on the monastery, a raid in which 26 monks were killed and the monastery burnt down. Reconstruction of the buildings started later in the century, aided financially by Emperor Adronicus II Palaeologus.
Further major construction in the monastery began in the sixteenth century, with many of the existing buildings dating from the middle of the eighteenth century. The south and east wings were built in 1750 and 1758 respectively. A small church was built in 1764 and a larger one in 1801. The north and west wings were built in late nineteenth century and with the construction of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church and bell tower major construction was completed in 1896.
At present all monks in the monastery are Bulgarian, and all services are in Bulgarian.
The collection in the monastery library preserves a significant presentation of Bulgarian culture. It contains manuscripts from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, including copies of the passionals of Naum of Ohrid and St. Petka. Additionally, the library contains 388 manuscripts in Slavic and 126 in Greek, as well as some 10,000 printed books.
The monastery also has two miraculous icons of St. George as well as icons of the Virgin of Akathistos and the Virgin Epakouousa. In addition, the monastery has other heirlooms and ecclesiastical vessels.