Monday, March 22, 2021

Monks of Mount Athos Begin to be Vaccinated

A Coast Guard boat delivered the first 400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Friday, March 19, to Mount Athos and vaccinations began immediately.

The vaccination center was set up at the Health Center in Karyes under the supervision of the director, Konstantinos Dokouslis.

The first 36 monks were vaccinated on Friday, as well as employees-collaborators of monasteries, while the vaccinations will continue daily.

The abbot of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou, Archimandrite Bartholomew, was the first to be vaccinated, followed by monks from the Monasteries of Iveron, Koutloumousiou, Simonos Petras, who were there especially for this purpose in Karyes.

The start of the vaccinations on Mount Athos was planned for last Wednesday, but due to the weather - strong winds prevailed - it was deemed appropriate not to make the route by boat.

Great interest among the monks

There is relief among the monks that vaccinations have begun. According to information from, the initial reservations, the denial of some, even the conspiracy theories, have receded.

Even the monks who have been infected with coronavirus are to be vaccinated. Hagiorites who also take refuge in hermitages far from Karyes have also shown interest.

Although the monastic state is in a lockdown and pilgrims are not allowed to enter, the monks are particularly fearful, since with the coenobitic system, according to which they live in small spaces, they all go to church together and all eat together in the dining rooms. In addition there is a significant number of monks who are elderly and have underlying diseases.

The first case a year ago

The first case of coronavirus appeared on Mount Athos a year ago and concerned a monk from the Holy Monastery of Xenophontos who traveled to Scotland and England in early March 2020, while three other monks who were with him on the trip in the following days were also positive with coronavirus. A total of four monks, from various monasteries, have ended up in the previous period with complications of the coronavirus and about ten who were hospitalized in critical condition overcame the risk.

Mount Athos has been "sealed" since the beginning of last December and according to the decision of the Holy Community, the ban on the entry of pilgrims is valid until March 30. The associates of the monasteries and employees who need to enter the Athonite State undergo a coronavirus test in Ouranoupolis and the other entrance gates and enter only if this is negative.

The Holy Community will discuss the issue in the coming days, but the lifting of the ban will depend on both the course of the pandemic and the government's decision to move from county to county. The Holy Community is in good cooperation with the Civil Administration and every decision is ratified by the Political Governor, Athanasios Martinos.