Great Lavra (Athos)

Great Lavra (Athos)

Great Lavra (Athos)

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This is the monastery on Mount Athos. For the monastery associated with Saint Sabbas, see Mar Saba.

The Monastery of Great Lavra () is the first monastery built on Mount Athos. It is located on the southeastern foot of the Mount at an elevation of 160 metres. The founding of the monastery in AD 963 by Athanasius the Athonite marks the beginning of the organized monastic life at Mount Athos. At the location of the monastery, there was one of the ancient cities of the Athos peninsula, perhaps Akrothooi, from which the sarcophagi of the monastery that are in the oil storage house come from. The history of the monastery is the most complete compared to the history of the other monasteries, because its historical archives were preserved almost intact. It is possible that the study of these archives may contribute to the completion of the knowledge of the history of other monasteries, whose archives were partially or completely lost.

Founding

The founder of Great Lavra, Athanasius, began the construction of the buildings in 963, according to the will of his friend and Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas who funded the project. Nikephoros had promised Athanasius that he would soon become a monk of Great Lavra but the circumstances and his death canceled those plans. However, a permanent imperial granting, which was doubled by John I Tzimiskes, allowed the integration of the buildings. The emperors gave also the Great Lavra many other lands of property including the island of...
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