Hilandar Monastery (Greek: Μονή Χιλανδαρίου, Serbian: Манастир Хиландар, pronounced ) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by the first Serbian Archbishop Saint Sava and his father, Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja (who later became a monk there, taking the monastic name of "Simeon") of the medieval Serbian principality of Raška (Rascia). The Mother of God through her Icon of Three Hands (Trojeručica), is considered the abbess.


The name "Hilandar" is derived from chelandion, a type of Byzantine transport ship, whose skipper was called a "helandaris". The ancient cell of Helandaris was donated by Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195-1203) "to the Serbs as an eternal gift..." and Stefan Nemanja establishes and endows the monastery in 1198 (before 13th february 1199).

In 1426 Gjon Kastrioti from Albania and his three sons (one of them was Skanderbeg) donated the right to the proceeds from taxes collected from the two villages (Rostuša and Trebište in Macedonia) and from the church of Saint Mary, which was in one of them, to the Hilandar where his son Reposh retired and died in 25 July 1431: in his honor the Saint George tower of Hilandar was known as the Albanian tower (Serbian: Arbanaški pirg).

Two medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the Virgino Charter and the Oryahov Charter, have been found in Hilandar's library. After the fall of Serbia and Bulgaria under Ottoman rule, the influx of Serbian monks decreased at the expense of Bulgarians, particularly from Macedonia. From the 17th to the 19th century, Hilandar was predominantly Bulgarian-populated: in his account of 1745, the Russian pilgrim Vasily Barsky writes that the monks of Hilandar were all Bulgarians.Ilarion Makariopolski, Sophronius of Vratsa and Matey Preobrazhenski have all lived there, and it was in this monastery that Saint Paisius of Hilendar began his revolutionary Slavonic-Bulgarian History. The monastery was dominated by Bulgarians until 1902.

However, in 1913, Serbian presence in the Holy Mountain was quite big and the Protos was the Serbian representative of Hilandar.

In the 1970s, the Greek government offered power grid installation to all of the monasteries on Mount Athos. The Holy Council of Mount Athos refused, and since then every monastery generates its own power, which is gained mostly from renewable energy sources. During the 1980s, electrification of the monastery of Hilandar took place, generating power mostly for lights and heating.

Great Fire

On March 4, 2004, there was a devastating fire at the Hilandar monastery, with approximately 50% of the walled complex destroyed in the blaze. The blaze damaged the northern half of the walled complex, including the bakery. The library and the monastery's many historic icons were saved or otherwise untouched by the fire.

Vast reconstruction efforts are underway, to return Hilandar to its former glory.

Sacred objects

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 January 12. Since Mount Athos uses the traditional Julian Calendar, the day they name as January 12 currently falls on January 25 of the modern Gregorian Calendar.

The monastery also possesses the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Three Hands" (Greek: Tricherusa, Serbian: Тројеручицa), traditionally associated with a miraculous healing of St. John Damascene. Around the year 717, St. John became a monk at Mar Sabbas monastery outside of Jerusalem and gave the icon to the monastic community there. Later the icon was offered to St. Sava of Serbia, who gave it to the Hilandar. A copy of the icon was sent to Russia in 1661, from which time it has been highly venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church. This icon has two feast days: June 28 (July 11) and July 12 (July 25).

The library holds 181 Greek and 809 Slavic manuscripts, about 20 000 printed books (3 000 in Greek language).

The monastery contains about 45 working monks.


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