Skiti Agiou Dimitriou was until recently habited by monks (Speake in 2002) and the skete belongs to the Vatopedi monastery. Nowadays the skiti is deserted and nearly all of its 15 buildings are in ruin. According to Feigl “the skete once was the “backbone” of the Holy Mountain because of its high standard and its scientific and cultural educated monks. The Dimitrios church is so beautiful that it overclasses the Katholica of Vatopediou or Docheiariou….”.
In September 2013 I finally had the opportunity to pay a visit to this settlement. Two labourers were repearing the roof of large trapeza with expensive copper drains.
In this post I will describe a trip around the buildings of the main settlement, with the tower, the church, the trapeza and the adjacent buildings (nrs 1 – 5 on the sketch). Father Nectarios is the keeper of this church: we understood that the workmen had the key of the church: unfortunately this wasn’t the case, so we could not see the interior (which – by the way – is completely filled up with scaffoldings).
I drew a plan of these buildings (which is not 100% accurate!) :
The path from Vatopedi to the skete ends at A, where you see this kiosk (Freatostegasma ? in Greek) with six columns, half in ruins, next to the three large cypresses (here three black spots).
Behind the kiosk you can walk to the Exo-narthex, with its fine fresco’s, which I will show in a next blog.
We will continue to walk around the building/church towards spot B:
In the wall you can read the year 1796. The church is build in the 12 th century and renewed in 1755. According to Feigl the oldest farmhouse of Athos is situated in this skiti, with a 1000-year old chapel! I could not find this farmhouse in situ: here are two pictures from the Feigl book.
While standing on spot B and looking to the tower you see this:
The trapeza of Skiti Dimitriou: the roof is almost renewed. Inside all walls are removed and the floor is broken open. No fresco’s or paintings were seen.
A stair between building C and the tower
The guesthouse near spot C: in a next blog I will show you the interior.
This small hut (Akathist Hymn – nr 7) lies opposite of building C
The other buildings in de neighbourhood were totally in ruin:
Wim, 29/12 (athos weblog proudly presents this first detailed publication about the skete [with pictures of Jitze Bakker], next time more about the fresco’s in the exo-nartex).
Skiti Agiou Dimitriou: frescoes from the exonarthex
As told in the first post about this forgotten skete (1493) we could not enter the katholicon, because the workmen were not in possesion of the key. It gave me the opportunity to take some pictures in the exo-narthex.
On this map the exo-narthex can found at B – the katholikon with the two domes – under the lesser dome. It is attached to building C, the guesthouse. The frescoes are of high quality, not refined, but painted by an artist who did not need many paint or brushstrokes to express himself. The overall condition of the frescoes is very poor. It looks like the frescoes in the church will be restored in the near future, because the whole church is filled up by scaffoldings.
The first fresco I photographed is a scene with a Crusified Monk, with a soldier giving him a sponge with water. Death is coming from the grave and angels and demons surround the cross.
A badly damaged detail of the the fresco of winged devils, one of them with a bow, fall in the mouth of a monster (with Mount Athos in the background?).
The next fresco in the first dome depitcs scenes from the life of Saint Anthony.
Saint Anthony lived in the desert and was tempted by many creatures: one of the temptations is done by the Satyr and the Centaur. Wikipedia says: “, St. Antony was stopped by these demons and he asked them, “Who are you?” To that the satyr replied, “I am a corpse, one of those whom the heathen call satyrs, and by whom they are snared into idolatry.” The satyr then tried to terrify the saint while the centaur acknowledged the overthrow of the gods. In the end, the centaur tried to show Saint Anthony the way to his destination while the satyr ended up asking for Saint Anthony’s blessing.”
Here is St. Anthony is a cave. Wikipedia says about this temptation: “One time Saint Anthony tried hiding in a cave to escape the demons that plagued him. There were so many little demons in the cave though that Saint Anthony’s servant had to carry him out because they had beaten him to death. When the hermits were gathered to Saint Anthony’s corpse to mourn his death, Saint Anthony was revived. He demanded that his servants take him back to that cave where the demons had beaten him. When he got there he called out to the demons, and they came back as wild beasts to rip him to shreds. All of a sudden a bright light flashed, and the demons ran away. Saint Anthony knew that the light must have come from God.”
To finish this blog I’ll show you another scene of the live of Anthony, I think it must be the story about the temptation with a plate with silver coins, that the devil must have laid out in the desert to tempt him.
frescoes from the exonarthex – 2
Today I will show you the remaining scenes from the lithi/exonarthex of Skiti Dimitriou. The images are rare and not shown before in any book I know or on the internet. Most of the pictures here concern the life of St. Antony and St. Paul . The frescoes date from 1806 .
“In the evening, the raven came bringing a whole loaf of bread. St. Paul said to St. Antony, “Now, I know that you are one of the children of God. For 70 years, the Lord has been sending to me everyday, half a loaf of bread, but today, the Lord is sending your food also. Now, go and bring me back in a hurry the tunic that Emperor Constantine had given to Pope Athanasius.”
This scene is from Saint Eu
Today we will take a closer look at the largest building C, probably the guesthouse.
After leaving the skiti Dimitriou we first passed some ruined houses (nrs 19, 20 24,25 on this drawing).
Athos Agio Oros