The Friends of Mount Athos


Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia

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Excursion to Helsinki for Grand Athonite Exhibition
and Pilgrimage to New Valamo (Finnish Karelia), Old Valaam and Petrozavodsk/Kizhi (Russian Karelia)
16 – 27 August 2006

Following the highly successful pilgrimages to France in 2002, Thessaly (Greece) in 2004, and Moldavia in 2005, the Friends of Mount Athos are now organizing a fourth excursion/pilgrimage: this time to Finland and Northern Russia (August 2006). The opening of a grand exhibition of Athonite treasures and works of art will take place on 17 August 2006 in the Finnish capital (the exhibition will remain until 21 January 2007). Furthermore, on 18 August, an international symposium entitled Pilgrimage as Dialogue will be convened near Helsinki at which our President, Bishop Kallistos, and our General Secretary, Dr Graham Speake, together with other Athos scholars, will present papers. Of particular significance is the fact that, for the first time, there will be a gathering of three Friends of Mount Athos societies: ours, Italy's and Finland's. Plans for future collaborative ventures will, at that time, be set in motion.

Our itinerary will include attendance at the exhibition, participation in the symposium, and visits to places of religious significance in Helsinki. We shall be made welcome by the Finnish Orthodox Church and given an audience with His Beatitude Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland. On 19 August we shall travel to Finnish Karelia, in order to spend two nights at the renowned Valamo Monastery of the Transfiguration. We shall also visit the neighbouring Lintula Convent.

On 21 August we plan to continue by coach across the Russian border into eastern Karelia to the venerable, thousand-year-old Monastery of Valaam (the ‘parent house’ of Finland's Valamo and long known as ‘the northern Athos’). We shall also pay a visit to Kizhi (23 – 24 August), famous for its remarkable wooden churches, including the twenty-two-domed Church of the Transfiguration (1714) and the nine-domed Church of the Intercession (1764). Finally we shall spend two nights (25?26 August) in St Petersburg and from there we shall take the return flight to London (27 August).

Team leader will be Bishop Kallistos. The maximum number of participants will be 25.

FoMA members interested in participating should contact Dimitri Conomos.