Mount Athos, the center of Orthodox Monasticism located on an autonomous peninsula in Northern Greece, has what Dr. Jean Claude Larchet calls a “prophetic role” in the modern world. This is true not only for Orthodox Christians, but believers in other religions and even atheists, Larchet writes.
Why is this so? Why is Mount Athos a place of such enduring and widespread fascination, even mystery? Larchet offers some compelling answers that draws deep from both his experiences on the Holy Mountain and his training as a Orthodox theologian.
One reason Larchet cites is that Mount Athos is a “witness to the Kingdom of God already present among us.” Mount Athos appears, in the words of the Psalmist, “as ‘the fertile mountain’, ‘the fruitful mountain’, ‘the mountain where it pleased the Lord to live’ and where He ‘will live forever'” (Ps 67: 16-17).
Mount Athos is a place where God lives among men, where the Kingdom of God can be realized in part in our fallen and broken world. It is a respite from the cold and darkness that has entered the hearts of men and thus the world, and a beacon that shows men the way back to the love and light of God.