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Xeropotamou Monastery


The monastery of Xeropotamou is situated in the southwest of Mt. Athos, right above the Dafni peer from which it is an hour walk away.  It stands on a rather small plateau.  A deep and wide "xeropotamou", meaning dry creek, is found by the monastery. 
According to sources, the monastery dates back from the 5th century, during the time of the Greek empress Pulcheria. Xeropotamou was a clerical brotherhood of the then town of Startonicus.   This is considered the oldest monastery of Mt. Athos.

During an Arab invasion, the monastery was plundered and remained desolate until the late 10th century.  Xeropotamou was reconstructed during the reign of emperor Romanus, with the effort of Paul, son of Michael I Curopalates, later known as Rhanghaves.  During the reign of emperor Michael Palaiologos in the 12th century, the monastery turned to catholicism. When catholics held a service with the monastery's brethren, an omen appeared illustrating the betrayal of Orthodoxy.  Rocks shook and the monastery collapsed before the eyes of Michael Palailologos.   The emperor fled Mt. Athon and the remaining converts died. 

The reconstruction was conducted during the reign of emperor Andronicus, son of Michael Palaiologos.  It is interesting that sultan Selim, having experienced a vision of the Forty Martyrs, bestowed many gifts upon the monastery.    Xeropotamou is quadrilateral in shape, with the oldest tower found on the northern wall.

The catholicon is dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, who are celebrated
on March 22, according to the Gregorian calendar. This is a highly revered holiday in the monastery.

Among the monastery's treαsures are the major part of the True Cross, with a Crucufiction nail, which was a gift to Paul, the founder, from emperor Romanus. 

Furthermore, the relics of the following saints are preserved: Procopius the Martyr, St. Auxentius, Ignatius of Antioch, John Chrysotom's fingers,
St. Basil the Great, Tryphon the Martyr, St. George, the Forty Martyrs and four fragments of the True Cross. One of them measures 31 x 16 cm, making it the biggest known so far. Moreover, the treasures include a piece of robe, covered in blood and myyrh of Demetrius of Thessaloniki etc.

The monastery holds a magnificent icon of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki made of green marble. It once belonged to the Hagia Sophia temple in Constantinople. Furthermore, there is a priceless cup illustrated with angels bearing weapons, symbolizing the torture of Christ and a Gospel ornamented with miniatures. 

The monastery includes 10 chapels, besides the catholicon.

Xeropotamou is inhabited by around 40 monks and it is ranked 8th in the Mt. Athos hierarchy. It belongs to the Chilandar group, where it is ranked 2nd.

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