Catholic World News

Putin, patriarch visit Mount Athos

June 01, 2016

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Mount Athos, the Greek peninsula that is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Russian presence there.

Speaking at St. Panteleimon Monastery, Putin said on May 28 that “in the Orthodox tradition, it [Athos] is believed to be the earthly domain of the Most Holy Mother of God, so everyone who steps on this sacred, much prayed on soil doubtless experiences special feelings.”

“The role played by Mount Athos is crucial at a time when Orthodoxy is growing stronger in Russia and other countries where it is confessed,” Putin added. “Orthodoxy is gaining ground, helping a great number of people, including Russians, to find inner support.”

The previous day, Patriarch Kirill preached:

Every time I set foot on the land of Athos I have a special feeling that this is a land in which ascetic work has been done for many centuries by people who left the world to come here, to a lonely place, and devoted their life to prayer, contemplation, and labor … If a monk no longer has sincere prayer of the heart, nothing is left in his life, for prayer is its core. It is because all monks of Mount Athos have zealous prayer, combining it with fasting and solitude, that those who come here feel that this place is a spring of the divine grace.


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