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Zograf Monastery

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Zograf Monastery

The Zograf Monastery.

The Saint George the Zograf or Zograf Monastery (Bulgarian: Зографски манастир, Zografski manastir; Greek: Μονή Ζωγράφου, Moní Zográphou) is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos (the "Holy Mountain") in Greece. It was traditionally founded in the late 9th or early 10th century by three Bulgarians from Ohrid and is regarded as the historical Bulgarian monastery on Mount Athos, and it is traditionally inhabited by Bulgarian Orthodox monks.

The monastery's name is derived from a 13th or 14th century icon of Saint George that is believed to have not been painted by a human hand (zograf(os) in Greek means "painter" (from zoe="life" and grafos="scribe") and to possess wonder-working powers.


The earliest written evidence of the monastery's existence dates from 980.During the Middle Ages, the monastery was generously supported by the Bulgarian rulers, such as Ivan Asen II and Ivan Alexander, since it was a matter of pride for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to maintain a monastery on Athos. The Zograf Monastery has also received land endowments by Byzantine (the first donor being Leo VI the Wise), Serbian, and Romanian rulers.

The Zograf Monastery was plundered and burnt down by Crusaders, working under orders from the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, in 1275, resulting in the death of 26 monks. These included the igumen (abbot) Thomas, as well as the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Paul, Menas, Ioasaph, Ioanicius, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Partenius, and four laymen. The reason for this attack was the opposition of the Athonite monks to the Union of Lyons, which the Emperor had supported for political reasons. Since the emperor could not attack the Greek monks without incurring the wrath of his own people, he vented his frustration on the Slavic monks. Having hanged the Protos (the elected president of Mount Athos), and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. Their martyrdom is commemorated annually on October 10 (October 23 on the Gregorian Calendar) throughout the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Mercenaries of the Catalan Grand Company raided the Holy Mountain for two years (1307–9), sacking many monasteries, plundering the treasures of Christendom, and terrorising the monks. Of the 300 monasteries on Athos at the beginning of the 14th century, only 35 were left by the end.[1] But the monastery recovered quickly with the help of grants and support from the Palaeologue Emperors and the princes of the Danubian Principalities. The buildings were reconstructed in the late 13th century with the financial aid of Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. The monastery was also given numerous metochia (properties) in parts of Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and modern-day Turkey, but retains today only those which are in Greece.

The monastery exists in its modern appearance since the 16th century, while its present-day buildings date from the middle 18th century. The south wing was built in 1750, the east in 1758, the small church was erected in 1764 and the large one in 1801. The north and west wing are from the second half of the 19th century and large-scale construction ended in 1896 with the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church and the raising of the bell tower.

Among the numerous relics and other holy objects treasured at the monastery is the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Akathist", the feast day of which is celebrated on October 10. Since Mount Athos uses the traditional Julian Calendar, the day they celebrate as October 10 currently falls on October 23 of the modern Gregorian Calendar.



Page from Codex Zographensis.

The Zograf Monastery owns a library of major significance to Bulgarian culture, preserving medieval manuscripts such as a 15th century copy of the passional of Saint Naum of Ohrid, the 14th-century passional of Saint Paraskevi, the original rough copy of Paisius of Hilendar's Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya and the History of Zograf. The monastic library houses 388 manuscripts in Slavic and 126 in Greek, as well as about 10,000 printed books altogether. Two medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the Zograf Charter and the Rila Charter, have been discovered in the monastery's library.


Zograf Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after the Zograf Monastery.

The monastery and its seal are depicted on the obverse of the Bulgarian 2 levs banknote, issued in 1999 and 2005.[2]



  1. "Athos in the ancient Greek period" ([dead link]Scholar search), The History of Mount Athos, Macedonian Heritage, 2000,, retrieved 2007-10-24 
  2. Bulgarian National Bank. Notes and Coins in Circulation: 2 levs (1999 issue) & 2 levs (2005 issue). – Retrieved on 26 March 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 40°18′21″N 24°09′37″E / 40.30583°N 24.16028°E / 40.30583; 24.16028bg:Зографски манастир ca:Monestir de Zografouka:ზოგრაფის მონასტერი mk:Манастир Зографpt:Mosteiro de Zograf ro:Mănăstirea Zografu ru:Зограф (монастырь) sr:Манастир Зограф

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