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Why only 20 monasteries?

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#1 Guillermo M.L.

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 01:06 AM

Studying the history of the Holy Mountain, I see that the number of monasteries fluctuated over time, with new monasteries being founded while others being abandoned. At some moment in time, however, the number was fixed -on paper- to twenty. Any other monastery that any gifted Father would like to found later, would at most be considered a skete, never a monastery.

There are some sketes that could well be considered monasteries in their own right, like the Romanian Prodromos skete, or the former Russian Saint Andrew skete.

What do you think about this rule? Isn't it limiting to the spiritual development of the Mountain? Isn't it somehow fake to found de jure sketes which are de facto monasteries? What is the sense of this limitation?

#2 Michael Stickles

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 05:23 PM

Someone who knows more can correct me if I mis-speak, but I believe it's primarily an administrative thing. The twenty monasteries between them administer all of the territory of Athos, each being responsible for one section. As part of this administration, they also provide one representative each to the Holy Community, based in Karyes. Any new community formed on Athos would, by definition, be located in the jurisdiction of an existing monastery.

I don't see this being limiting at all. Obedience is a primary virtue - a critical necessity, really - in the monastic life. That any new community must be in subjection to one of the established monasteries, seems to me to be perfectly in line with the monastic way of life.

If I've mis-stated something, hopefully one of our monastic members can clean up the mess.

In Christ,

#3 Kosta


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Posted 21 September 2010 - 08:40 PM

Modt likely its over administrative reasons. Call it politics, call it governance, its easier to deal with 20 monasteries than 50

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