Athonite Benedictines  

Posted by Joe Rawls in ,

An obscure facet of monastic history--but one very close to the spirit of this blog--is the Benedictine monastery of St Mary which existed on Mt Athos ca 980-1287. Known in Greek as the Amalfion, it was founded by monks from the Italian city-state of Amalfi, which in its heyday rivaled Genoa and even Venice in terms of maritime trade. Amalfitan monasteries were also found in Constantinople and in Jerusalem (the chapel of the latter is now a Lutheran church).

According to a contemporary Greek text the Mt Athos foundation was established by Beneventus, brother of the duke of Benevento. He became friends with the monks of the Orthodox monastery of Iveron, close by the site of the Amalfion. The Greek monks "treated him with the greatest kindness and invited him to make his home among them, saying 'both you and we are alike pilgrims'...And so he built a pleasant monastery in which he gathered many brothers. With the help of our fathers the whole work was completed...and to this day there exists on the Holy Mountain this monastery of the Romans, who live a regular and edifying life according to the Rule of Holy Benedict..."

Relationships between the Roman Catholic Benedictines and their Orthodox neighbors remained amiable even after the rupture between the two churches in 1054. As the centuries passed, the fortunes of the Amalfion gradually declined along with those of its parent city. In 1287 the monastery was peacefully dissolved and its assets transferred to one of the Orthodox communities. This long-term peaceful co-existence remains a model worth emulating for Eastern and Western Christians of the present day.

Click here and here for additional information on the Amalfion.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 9, 2010 at Thursday, September 09, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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