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Did St Gregory Palamas bring his family to Mt Athos?


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#1 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:36 AM

Today we celebrate the feastday of St. Gregory Palamas. I was listening to the Church of Greece radio programme this morning. After the morning service. there is a short commentary on one of the saints we celebrate on this day.

Today's was about St. Gregory Palamas. The nomadic Turks (Guezz and Osmanli) had already reached Asia Minor in his lifetime and those Christians who were not willing to convert to Islam were persecuted. Most Christians converted to Islam because Christians were highly taxed whereas Muslims weren't. Same thing happened here in Greece with the Ottoman Empire.

St. Gregory and his family were forced to move. This morning I head that he, his mother, two brothers and two sisters travelled to the Holy Mountain and settled outside the Vatopaidi monastery.

My impression was that women were not allowed on the Holy Mountain.

I have tried to find more information but, without any success. Does anyone know anything more about this?

The reason I posted this on this thread is that it seems to me that we cannot be completely certain of the information available to us concerning the role of women in the Orthodox church.

#2 Nina

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:03 PM

Maybe his Mother and sisters stayed in Ouranoupoli like all women stay today at the female Convent that is there? Maybe Panagia/Elder etc. because of the extraordinary circumstances gave him permission according to economia of the Church?

#3 Deborah Valentine

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:15 PM

During the Greek Civil War, women and children were allowed on the mountain.

#4 Kusanagi

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:18 PM

Sometimes depending on the situation women are allowed. I read in secular papers here that some trafficked women from Macedonia who escaped managed to find temporary shelter on Mt Athos.

#5 Kosta

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:16 AM

From what I read ST Gregory and his 2 brothers became monks on Athos. Returning home and seeing what was going on they relocated the entire family to Thessaloniki. Maybe someone can give better details.

Regardless, as Kusanagi points out women have been allowed on Athos depending on the situation. There's even unconfirmed rumors that Jewish men and women were allowed to hide on Athos during WW2.

Also the ban on women became effective in 1046 ad, one hundred fifty years after it's founding.

#6 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 07:15 AM

There are many things that we don't know about the past. This lost knowledge might have been lost naturally because of the passage of time, or because there is some knowledge that is contrary to what we are supposed to believe today and, perhaps, that why certain facts are not referred to. This is the main reason that I don't like to take part in theoretical discussions.

The summary of his life on the Church of Greece radio station was obviously based on facts that the Church has and that we don't.

It warms my heart to hear that this man took his whole family with him. The family stayed outside the Batopedi monastery and later, when St. Gregory became a monk, he went to Lavra Monastery, without his mother and sisters of course.

#7 Kosta

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:28 AM

I wonder if someone can post his hagiography. I have the volume on the three pillars of Orthodoxy (Sts, Gregory Palamas, Mark of Ephesus and Photios the great) published by holy apostles convent . I'll see if they mention anything.

#8 Georgianna

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:56 AM

In The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints (St Demetrius of Rostov), it states:

Gregory disdained everything worldly as a deceptive dream, and wishing to cleave to God, the well-spring of all wisdom, at the age of twelve resolved to take up the monastic life. He revealed his intention to his pious mother, and although she was saddened at first, she gave her consent. In time, she came to rejoice in the Lord over Gregory’s desire and decided to follow him in embracing the monastic life; moreover, with God’s help she persuaded all her other children to do likewise. Thus she could repeat the words of the prophet, “Lo, I and the children which Thou hast given me shall follow after Thee, O Lord.”

Saint Gregory, who despised with his whole heart the beautiful, sweet things of this world and earthly glory, gave his possessions to the poor, in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel, and followed after Christ, forsaking his mother, brothers, and sisters. After leaving his mother and sisters in a convent, he went with his brothers to the holy mountain of Athos where they took up their dwelling in one of the monasteries. - pp 333-334


In The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, (Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra), it states:

About the year 1316, Gregory decided to abandon the vanities of the world. His mother, two sisters, two brothers and a great many of his servants entered upon the monastic life with him. He and his two brothers went on foot to the holy mountain of Athos, where they settled near the Monastery of Vatopedi under the direction of the Elder Nicodemus, who came from Mount Auxentius. - pp 133-134


In the Triodion volume of The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church (Holy Apostles Convent), it states:

Saint Gregory, taking the advice of spiritual men, decided to leave the court and his classic studies. He then gradually changed his habits and manner of outward life. After he had led a strict life, neither the emperor's offers, nor the kindness of his friends, nor the ties of kinship could make him relinquish the way of the Cross to heaven. In the year 1316, Gregory, then twenty years old, as the firstborn of his family, had inherited his father's responsibilities and property. When Gregory finally decided to become a monk, he told his devout mother Kalee about it. At first, she was rather distressed at the idea. Afterward, however, she not only agreed with his intention but also rejoiced in the Lord; and, so, she decided herself to become a nun. Further, with God's help, she even persuaded her other children to receive monasticism with her. Hence, she could say with Prophet Esaias, "Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me [Is 8:18]." Eventually, Gregory's mother, his two sisters, Epicharis and Theodote, and some handmaidens, entered convents in Constantinople. Also, several of Gregory's servants left the world and entered the monastic life. Following the commandment of the Gospel, Saint Gregory distributed all of his property among the poor. Then, taking his two brothers, Makarios and Theodosios, he repaired to Mount Athos. The brothers Palamas left Constantinople on foot in autumn of 1317. - pp 546-547.


Edited by Georgianna, 15 November 2012 - 11:52 AM.


#9 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 03:27 PM

Georgianna, the second account of his life seems to be similar to what I heard on the morning programme. Except, of course, for what I have already written i.e. that his mother and two of his sisters went with him the first time he visited the Holy Mountain. It was only after one of his brothers died that he became a monk at the Lavra monastery.

Thank you so much for all the information you posted.

Euterpe

#10 Robert Alllison

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:11 PM

John Meyendorff, in his summary of Gregory Palamas' life (in St Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974) writes that when Gregory decided to follow the monastic vocation in 1316, having lost his father as a child, "he was responsible for his mother, two sisters, two brothers and a large number of servants. His solution was that all of them should enter monastic life. So his mother, his two sisters, and many servants entered monasteries in the capital, and the three boys set out together on foot for Mount Athos." (pp. 76-77)
Bob Allison
Bates College

#11 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:47 AM

Why are there so many official versions of what actually happened?

#12 Nina

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:40 PM

There are *not* many official versions, I believe, dear Effie. Just different books published. The main thing that concerns us, is that he is a Saint. What happened to the family is more, or less in the same lines that they were also monastics and/or pious people. They did not live in the age of internet and constant live updating, but still we have pretty accurate accounts, thank God. Not to mention that even today, in the age of highly-developed-technology enhanced communication, we often do not manage to get some news stories accurately, as different sources report different versions about the same story. :)

#13 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:14 AM

You are right, Nina. I was hasty, as I often am, when I replied. I should have said that different sources give us different versions of the same event or circumstances.

your sister in Christ
Euterpe

#14 Nina

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:40 PM

:) No, my dear. You were not hasty. It is normal to discuss. And as with everything in life to accept that nothing is perfect - even books, stories. We experience something ourselves and often details escape us. :) This is why I do not pay much attention to people who look for Bible discrepancies etc. Because it can be a trick from the evil one to shake our faith in God. May His mercy cover us!

Have a blessed Birthday! :)




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