The Mount Athos is known to the inhabitants as the Garden of the Mother of God. According to the tradition of the Holy Mountain, Mary the Mother of Jesus set foot on the island by providential chance. Invited by Lazarus (Martha’s and Mary’s brother) to visit him on Cyprus, her ship was blown off course and alighted on the east coast of Mount Athos, at the location of a pagan temple and oracle of Apollo. As Mary went to shore, the pagan idols called on the people living in the neighborhood to meet the Holy Mother of God. The inhabitants converted to Christianity, and Mary fell in love with the island, so much so that she besought her Son to grant her the island as her personal domain. The prayer was granted, and before Mary departed she blessed the residents and announced that the Holy Mountain was hers. There is a strong belief among the monks living on Mount Athos that Mary through the centuries continued visiting her island to manifest herself as its patron and protector. Gregory Palamas, in his Life of St. Peter the Athonite(PG150, 1005, 11) records the Virgin’s words and promise for those living on the “mountain that I have chosen out of all the earth.”
From now on, until Constantinople repents, Russian Orthodox Christians will not be allowed to participate in worship, communion, or prayer in churches under the Patriarch of Constantinople. Nor will they be allowed to participate in any other sacraments.
Members of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) are now forbidden to pray and receive communion in the monasteries and churches on Mount Athos, said Igor Yakimchuk (spokesman for Patriarch Kirill) and Alexander Volkov (secretary of the Moscow Department for External Church Relations). For prayer in any churches of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Christians will have to repent of this sin at confession.
Regarding the broken relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Constantinople, Mr. Volkov explained that “from now on, until Constantinople changes its position, Russian Orthodox Christians will not be allowed to participate in worship, communion, or prayer in churches under the Patriarch of Constantinople. Nor will they be allowed to participate in any other sacraments.”
“For refusing to follow these prohibitions, Russian Orthodox clergy will be censured, and for laity, repentance and confession will be required, due to their disobedience to the Church,” Mr. Yakimchuk told Interfax.
The priest noted that this ban also applies to all existing temples of Istanbul, the only active temple in Anatolia, in Greek Crete, and the Dodecanese islands (including Rhodes).
Recall that on October 11, the Patriarchate of Constantinople claimed to abolish the document transitioning the Kiev Metropolis to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and presumed to remove the anathema from Philaret, the so-called Patriarch of Kiev, who is not recognized by any other church jurisdictions in the Orthodox world. In response, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced a complete break in communion with Constantinople.