(Registered Charity No. 1047287)

Newsletter No. 27: April 2017

We are sending you your copy of the Annual Report for 2016, which we hope you will enjoy reading.

The 2017 Summer Conference: Saturday 10 June at St Anne’s College, Oxford

The day will start with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity and the Annunciation (1 Canterbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LU) at 9.00 am.  All members and their guests, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, are warmly invited to attend. The church is only five minutes’ walk from St Anne’s College where coffee will be available in the Tsuzuki Theatre Foyer from 10.45 am.  Proceedings will begin at 11.30 am.

We will be privileged to have with us three fathers from the cell of Axion Estin, two of whom will speak to us.  Axion Estin dates from the first half of the tenth century and is one of the oldest and most important cells on Mount Athos.  It is where the Archangel Gabriel is believed to have appeared in the year 982 and first chanted the hymn ‘Axion Estin’ which now forms part of every Orthodox service.  After being abandoned for many years and falling into disrepair, the cell has a new brotherhood of Greek fathers who are determined to restore it to its former splendour.  FoMA has pledged to assist them with this.

First Elder Porphyrios, the cell’s spiritual father, will give a talk on ‘Monastic Life and Prayer: Life at the Axion Estin Cell’.  This talk will describe the pattern of life at the cell, the spiritual struggle of the fathers, and their everyday work.

Secondly Fr Philoumenos, one of the monks of the cell, will give an illustrated presentation entitled ‘In the Footsteps of Archangel Gabriel: AD 982-2017’.  This talk will cover the cell’s 1000-year history, the miraculous appearance of the Archangel, the cell’s spiritual importance, and its needs today.

This is a rare opportunity to hear something of what life is like in one of the smaller cells of Mount Athos, far removed from the regimented atmosphere of the ruling monasteries.

In the afternoon, Ploutarchos Theocharides will give an illustrated lecture entitled ‘Architecture on Athos – 10th to Early 17th Centuries’.  Professor Theocharides is an architect and architectural historian specialising in architectural conservation of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras.  He has worked for over 40 years on Mount Athos, and has published numerous works on secular and monastic architecture.  His talk will focus on building complexes, churches, towers, and other structures in Athonite monasteries.

Our last speaker Deacon Nicholas Price, who will give an illustrated talk about the society’s 2016 rich and varied pilgrimage to Cyprus. 

A buffet lunch is available in the college and must be booked in advance (price £20.00). It is followed by the official business of the AGM itself and as usual there will be elections.

One member of the Executive Committee has reached the end of his term of office, Dr Graham Speake.  One new member, Dr Christopher Solomon, has been co-opted onto the committee during the year.  Both have indicated their willingness to stand. Any other nominations should reach the Secretary in writing at least one week before the meeting.  Guests are welcome at the AGM but may not vote.

After tea there is a further opportunity to join the Orthodox community at 1 Canterbury Road for a Vigil service at 5.30 pm. The service will last about two hours and the languages used will be primarily English and Slavonic.

Attendance at the AGM is free. The charge for attending the rest of the day (including coffee and tea) is £12.00 each (students £6.00). Completed forms and cheques (payable to The Friends of Mount Athos) should be sent as soon as possible to Frances Jennings, 18 Warwick Street, Oxford OX4 1SX.

Important administrative changes

Simon and Frances Jennings are leaving Rawlinson & Hunter in early May, and the latter will no longer deal with FoMA’s administration.  This means a change to our email and contact addresses. From now on, all FoMA correspondence for Simon as Treasurer, or Frances as Events Organiser, should be sent by email to, or by post to 18 Warwick Street, Oxford OX4 1SX.

Project for the restoration of footpaths and wayside shrines and fountains

This May another expedition, the seventeenth, will spend a fortnight on the Mountain. The list for this year is already full, but the project leaders, John Arnell and Andrew Buchanan, will soon be assembling a team for next year.  Any members who wish to volunteer are encouraged to contact either of them (;

New map of Mount Athos

Developed and published by FoMA member and cartographer, Peter Howorth, in collaboration with members of FoMA’s Footpaths Project, this is now the most accurate and detailed map of the Holy Mountain.  It is available to buy through his website,, at a discounted price to FoMA members.  While we are delighted to promote this map, it is published by Peter, and neither FoMA nor its Executive Committee can take any responsibility for its accuracy.

Pilgrimage to the Monastery of St John the Baptist, Tolleshunt Knights

This year’s pilgrimage will take place on 1 July 2017. Both Orthodox and non-Orthodox members and their families and friends are warmly welcome to join it. Those who are interested should contact the organiser, Dimitri Conomos (

Pilgrimage to Northern Serbia

This year’s pilgrimage, to Northern Serbia, will run from 21 October to 29 October 2017.  Some spaces are still available, and anyone interested should contact the organiser, Dimitri Conomos, as soon as possible.

FoMA Travel Bursary

Qualified graduate students may apply for a FoMA Travel Bursary of £500.  Further information may be obtained from me:

Hon. Secretary Peter Lea
The Stables
58 Manor Road
Woodstock, OX20 1XJ

Peter Lea