Wednesday, January 27, 2010

St. Tryphon the Great Martyr, and the Monastery of Xenophontos


As noted previously, the Holy Monastery of Xenophontos on Mount Athos, among its many treasures, preserves (a portion of) the sacred Skull of St. Tryphon the Great Martyr (February 1st). The following is a short account of some of the experiences from the various fathers of the Monastery regarding their "protector", St. Tryphon.

Icon of St. Tryphon the Great Martyr - Commemorated on February 1st, and with the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries (Icon by Photi Kontouglou, courtesy of used with permission)

Recounting wondrous events
The presence of the precious Skull of the most-glorious, blessed and divine Tryphon the Great Martyr in our Monastery [Xenophontos], is an incredible blessing and honor, and forms a spring of divine gifts and graces, but also drives away sicknesses of fields and gardens.

Furthermore, in the [local] Monastic region is preserved a holy Cell named in honor of the great champion St. Tryphon the Unmercenary, which is inhabited by three fathers, praising and blessing God and His healer, the worthy-to-be-blessed divine Tryphon.

The sacred name of St. Tryphon is ever kept in our Brotherhood and is [often] given at the tonsure of a brother in honor of the Saint.

From the commemorations passed on to us from the old fathers we know of many wondrous events which are attributed to the unfading divine root of Lapsakou, St. Tryphon.

Elder Barlaam of Xenophontos lived in our Monastery for around 80 years. He was a moving [person]. He came to our Monastery in 1908 and fell asleep in 1983. Arrayed with simplicity and humility, he lived all his years in the Monastery bearing every trial patiently for the love of Christ. He served for many years in the fields of the Monastery and had many experiences with St. Tryphon, the protector of farmers.

He related to us once that at the upper gardens of the Monastery, in an area called “Zacharas”, locusts and caterpillars fell, and wreaked havoc on the cabbage garden. The Elder informed the holy Abbot of the situation and asked them to bring the holy Skull of the Great Martyr Tryphon and to perform an agiasmo [holy water] with the prayers of the Saint.

Immediately the Monastery responded, and as soon as the precious Skull of the Saint arrived and they performed the agiasmo and the prayers, all of the pests fled like a cloud and the garden’s crop was saved through the wondrous intervention of the Saint.

Also, Elder Barlaam related the following: “We, O fathers, did not know of pesticides and such things. When sicknesses appeared we would take the holy Skull of our protector, St. Tryphon, perform agiasmo and process the holy relic through the olive gardens, sprinking the trees with the agiasmo, and the yield was wondrous. Imagine, the branches broke from the fruit, 25,000 okades of oil we gathered a year from the olive crop. Glory to God and to St. Tryphon our protector!”

Also, with bodily illnesses he is a relief and physician, the most-holy Martyr of Christ Tryphon, and he does not cease to protect us from dangers and temptations. And whoever calls upon His holy name and seeks His help, receives the grace of healing from the chosen band of divine Unmercenaries.
(amateur translation of the Greek text from:

Some gardens at Xenophontos Monastery (

Xenophontos Monastery, Mount Athos
"The Holy Monastery of Xenophontos stands on the western shore of the peninsula, between the Monasteries of Docheiariou and St Panteleimon. It has a long history which goes back to the 10th and the 11th century, to the time when the Megiste Lavra was founded. Its founder was St Xenophon, who was also its Abbot.
The Monastery has had its share of vicissitudes, starting from the time when it was set up. One such difficulty was the quarrel which arose in the late 11th century with the eunuch Stephen - subsequently a monk with the name of Symeon - drungarius of the Emperor Nicephorus Botaneates. Initially the fact that Stephen had become a monk was beneficial to the Monastery: the provision of funds made possible the construction of buildings. However, his subsequent career as Abbot brought him into conflict with most of the monks, resulting in his removal. Symeon's appeal to the Emperor Alexius Comnenus ended in an imperial order that he should be restored to office.

Apart from such episodes of an internal character, there were others with external causes. As a monastery on the sea shore, Xenophontos was frequently the object of pirate raids. In the 13th century it was laid waste by Latin pirates. In the Third Typikon it occupied eighth place, while today its position in the hierarchy is sixteenth. During the period of Turkish rule it was supported by wealthy Christians of Vlach descent, either by means of the revenues which came from the 'Romva' Skete or from two villages donated to it by Romanian princes.

During the 16th century the majority of the monks were Slavs. In the century which followed it was discovered to owe huge sums to a syndicate of Jewish usurers. The result was its financial ruin - in a more general atmosphere of decline which prevailed at that time on Athos. In the 18th century the Monastery was re-established, the first concern being a return to the coenobitic system in 1784. The vigorous Abbot Paοsios of Lesvos added new buildings and brought new life to the Monastery. It was at that point that the building of the large new katholikon in the northern part of the Monastery was begun. This was finished by the time of the outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821.

On the southern side of the Monastery is the old katholikon, decorated with Early Christian symbols. Its construction dates back to the 11th century, although there have been subsequent phases of additions (it was adorned with a wooden sanctuary screen in 17th century; its wall-paintings were repainted). The belltower was built in 1864 and the holy water phiale in 1901.

The Monastery has some 600 manuscripts and approximately 7,000 printed books. Two icons of the 14th century, showing St George and St Demetrius, are important works of art; it also has the famous wonder-working icon of Our Lady Hodeghetria. Among the treasures of Xenophontos are a piece of the True Cross, sumptuous reliquaries containing the relics of saints, sacred vessels, and vestments. The Monastery has 11 chapels inside its precinct and six outside. Its dependencies are the Skete of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin and 22 kalyves, which are, unfortunately, in decline because of a shortage of monks to live in them. The community numbers some 30 hard-working monks."

For information on St. George the Great Martyr and the Monastery of Xenophontos, see:

For the life of St. Tryphon, see:

For more on the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries, see:

May St. Tryphon intercede for us all!

St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

Troparion of St Trypho Tone 3
In the Holy Spirit thou didst pour forth abundant grace on the Church like an unfailing fountain; thou dost refresh our souls with the delight of thy gifts. O glorious Tryphon, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
St. Tryphon the Great Martyr and Unmercenary (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

No comments: