Holy Monastery of Vatopedi – The Orthodox Christian Monastic Republic of Mount Athos – December 2016
The monastery was founded shortly before 980 and was called St Paul’s or Xeropotamou. The founder seems to have been the prominent monk Paul, who also founded the Monastery of St Nicephoros, also, and still, known as Xeropotamou. In the 14th century St Paul’s was reduced to a cell dependent on the Monastery of Xeropotamou, but around 1370 it was restored to the status of a monastery.
The monastery was richly endowed by the Serbian-Greek princess Maria, wife of the Sultan Murat II and mother of Mohammed the Conqueror, who took Constantinople in 1453. The katholikon, dedicated to the Presentation of Our Lord, was built between 1839 and 1844, and is one of the finest examples of modern Greek church building its marble chancel screen was crafted by the marble sculptors of Tinos. The chapel of St George is decorated with wall-paintings dating to 1555.
St Paul’s greatest treasures are the Gifts of the Magi, presented to the monastery by the Sultana Maria, and a carved wooden cross incorporating miniatures. St Paul’s has jurisdiction over New Skete and the romanian skete of Lakkos (St Demetrios of the Ravine).