Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Dormition of St. Anna, and the Skete of St. Anna (the larger), Mount Athos

The Dormition of St. Anna - Commemorated on July 25 (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
"Saint Anna was the daughter of the priest Matthan and his wife Mary. She was of the tribe of Levi and the lineage of Aaron. According to Tradition, she died peacefully in Jerusalem at age 79, before the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos.

[The Theotokos had been orphaned of both her parents already when she was eleven years of age, when she was living in the Temple (see Sept. 8 and Nov. 21). Saint Anna is invoked for conceiving children, and for help in difficult childbirth. (]

During the reign of St Justinian the Emperor (527-565), a church was built in her honor at Deutera. Emperor Justinian II (685-695; 705-711) restored her church, since St Anna had appeared to his pregnant wife. It was at this time that her body and maphorion (veil) were transferred to Constantinople.
St Anna is also commemorated on September 9." (taken from:
Icon of the Dormition of St. Anna (taken from:
"St. Anne's Skete (or, less commonly, The Major Skete of St. Anne's) is one of four sketes attached to the Great Lavra of Mount Athos. It is located near the cape of Mt Athos, near Little St. Anne's Skete. St Anne's Skete has the distinction of being the largest and oldest skete of Mt Athos and was founded to preserve the left foot of St Anne, the Mother of the Theotokos.

There are 51 brotherhood houses at St Anne's Skete, inhabited by 85 monks. The houses each have different handicrafts - some fishing, some gardening, others iconography, wood carving, miniature art or incense. The main church was built and frescoed in 1754, when it was dedicated to St Anne, and it holds the relics of several saintly martyrs of the Church." (taken from:'s_Skete_(Athos)).
Picture of St. Anna's Skete, Mount Athos (taken from:
The following is a quote from Constantine Cavarnos, about an experience visiting the Skete of St. Anna for the vigil service:
"In The Holy Mountain I speak particularly about my attending the all-night vigil service in honor of Saint Anna, the mother of the Theotokos on August 6 (July 24 O.S.) the eve of the annual feast. There I say:

"I went by motorboat to the arsanas (landing place) of the Skete of Saint Anna, on the southern side of the Athos peninsula, in order to go up to the Skete and attend the feast in commemoration of the Dormition of Saint Anna, to whom this settlement of hermits is dedicated. This Skete is built on an abrupt slope a good distance from the sea. To reach its main church (known as the kyriakon, because the monks of the settlement gather in it on Sundays (Kyriake) for corporate worship), I had to walk uphill a for about half an hour.

"The all-night vigil service, which constituted the heart of the celebration, was one of the most memorable experiences I have had on the Holy Mountain. It began at 8 o'clock in the evening of the feast and continued until 8:30 in the morning, when the Divine Liturgy, which followed the great vespers and matins, ended. This service had a spiritual magnificence that moved one profoundly, evoking contrition and a strong feeling of the presence of God. The chanting was done by two choirs, each consisting of three monks, all of them having beautiful voices and well-trained in the execution of Byzantine music. They stood in stalls along the east wall of the nave that is in line with the iconostasis, and faced west towards the congregation. At the beginning of the service the church was dark, illumination being provided only by the small sacred oil-lamps in front of the icons of the iconostasis. When the right choir began to chant Psalm 140 (Septuagint): 'Lord, I have cried unto Thee; hear me: attend to the voice of my supplication ...' one of the monks lit the candles of the great chandelier (under the dome) known as the 'corona,' those of the three other chandeliers in the nave, and those before the icons of the iconostasis, in front of the Beautiful Gate, and elsewhere. Thus the intensity of the illumination gradually increased until the whole nave became well illuminated. It was a warm, pulsating light, unlike the lifeless light provided by electricity. The sacred figures depicted on the panels and walls now became visible, increasing the feeling of holiness and contact with the divine. This feeling was further strengthened by the frequent censing with the famed Athonite frankincense.

"When the priest said in a loud intoned voice: 'With fear of God, with faith and with love draw near,' many of the monks and lay guests moved forward to the Beautiful Gate to partake of Divine Communion.

"After the Liturgy, food was offered in the refectory to all who had attended the services.

"When the meal was over, one of the monks of the Skete, a retired Metropolitan named Anthimos, delivered a moving speech, in which he related the celebration to the goals of monasticism. The chief purpose of this event, he asserted, is to lift us to God and His saints, and to arouse our zeal to imitate Saints Anna and Joachim, to strive to acquire their virtues, to rid ourselves of 'passions' (negative emotions) and evil thoughts, to cleanse our soul of everything impure, so that we might attain happiness in the other, endless life, and so far as possible in the present life also." (taken from:
Icon of St. Anna, holding the Most-Holy Theotokos, from the Skete of St. Anna, Mount Athos (taken from:

   Picture of the holy, incorrupt foot of St. Anna, treasured in the Skete of St. Anna, Mount Athos, working many miracles (particularly with women who have trouble conceiving or during pregnancy) (taken from:
Another icon of the Dormition of St. Anna (taken from:
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God's pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
We celebrate now the mem'ry of Christ's ancestors, while asking their help with faith, that we may all be saved from all manner of tribulation as we fervently cry aloud: Be thou with us, O Lord our God, Whose pleasure it was to glorify them both. (taken from:
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


grotto said...

beautiful icons, very holy

Wonderment said...

Thanks for posting. + + +