After my studies, I followed the path of complete dedication to Christ and became a monk in 1973. I am member of the administrative council of my monastery (‘The Assembly of the Elders’ ), and I am ranked third after the Abbot.
"Oikonòmos" of the monastery
With the monastery's Gerontia: Elder Apollo, Abbot Gregory, Elder Gabriel (the secretary of the monastery)
Elder Apollo, Elder Paulos (the Protos of Mount Athos), Elder Gregory (the Abbot of Docheiariou)
My competences include hydraulics, electrics, heavy machinery operations and other general duties related to the maintenance of the monastery.
sv2asp/a at work
The Holy Monastery of Docheiariou
Mount Athos is an autonomous self-ruled monastic republic in the Chalcidic peninsula in northern Greece. Named after its 2,033-high peak, it extends for 340 square kilometres and it is inhabited by a rapidly growing population of 2,000 Orthodox Christian monks.
Mount Athos from the sea... and from space (photo by Valery Korzun, r0iss)
Mount Athos is the only place in the world to be populated exclusively by men: Orthodox Christian monks whose main aim is the glorification of the Trinitarian God and the fight against passions in the pursuit of Life Eternal, next to the throne of God.
Mount Athos’ monastic government is democratic, and the new constitution (dating back to 1763) has been in effect in general lines up to date. Both Greek and non-Greek visitors are granted a 4-day permission of stay on the peninsula, which might nevertheless be extended under particular circumstances. By the unwritten law of hospitality, the monasteries provide visitors with free board and lodging. If one wishes, he might stay in one of the monasteries for longer periods, taking part to their daily routine and helping out in the various works.
My monastery (and antenna) under the snow
In spring 1986 our monastery had remained without telephone for over five months, an occurrence that is not unusual on Mount Athos. It then happened that one of the brothers who was working in the garden struck a big stone with his hoe, and a small piece of the hoe stuck into his eye. After two days, we reached the AHEPA Hospital in Thessalonica. When Mr Georgiadis, an ophthalmology professor and the chairman of then Radio Amateur Union of Northern Greece, heard the story, he recommended that somebody in the monastery become an amateur radio operator, in order to guarantee communication in case of emergency: for the safety of the monks, as well as of the treasures preserved in the monastery. It was in this way that I first learnt about amateur radio.
with SV2RE, Dr. Nick Georgiades and SV2UA, George Tsalios,
who introduced me to ham radio
In 1988 I obtained my licence. I am the first and only active ham radio on Athos.
The Holy Community licence to operate from the Holy Mountain
The licence to operate from my monastery
"cq cq de sv2asp/a" - my first qsos in 1990
In spite of all the difficulties and of not being fond of DXing (which does not really fit my monastic way of life), I have been sacrificing my very little spare time to make the voice of the Holy Mountain heard on the air and to give joy to a multitude of friends impatiently waiting for a contact. I have been doing so since 1990, trying to spread, through my presence on the radio waves, a message of hope and optimism – from the ascetic world of Mount Athos to the troubled world outside.
As an Athonite monk and radio operator, I try to silently offer my services where needed. At the beginning, when radio communications were not free and cell phones had yet to come, I helped coordinate helicopter operations for the transport of patients from Mount Athos to mainland Greece. I also helped communications during the big fires on the peninsula, and any other time there was need.
God knows all my fights and sacrifices in order to keep Mount Athos at the height it deserves in terms of DXing, but also to prevent its removal from the DXCC list. In 2000 I received the special call-sign SY2A for the celebration of my 10 years on the air, and made 6.500 QSOs.
I work all HF bands SSB, RTTY, PACTOR, AMTOR, and CW. I do not chase DX stations as a hobby, nor because I am interested in diplomas, but rather to offer some joy to distant ham operators. I have over 50.000 contacts in my logbook. It is simply to uphold Mount Athos that, under the request of some friends of mine, I applied for the basic diplomas (DXCC,WAS,WAZ ,CQ COUNTRY…), as I already had the necessary contacts.
Moreover, since I started to operate on the HF, I have been living a lot of very moving experiences – it is these that keep me on the bands, even though this means taking precious time from my heavy and difficult monastic program. Friends I met on the air have come to see me from all over the world. Some of them visit every year as pilgrims, travelling all the way from the United States.
One of the most unforgettable encounters I have ever had though was with the Russian cosmonaut Valery Korzun, with whom I used to have daily QSOs and digital photograph exchanges during his 6-month mission on the ISS in 2002. During his visit to my monastery, I showed him my radio shack, from where I used to talk to him. I also showed him the chandelier where every night I used to light a candle for him and his crew to our miraculous icon of the Mother of God ‘Quick to Hearken’.
It was a very moving encounter indeed – one beyond words and imagination.
with Commander Valery Korzun, r0iss
As an Athonite monk, I am constantly reminded that I carry a heavy over-thousand-year-old heritage on my shoulders. It is a heritage which I deeply respect and I feel the duty to spread throughout the world.
From distant Athos, a place which continues to live undisturbed according to its own ancient rhythms and unchanged way of life…
6932080 Last modified: 2015-12-16 18:12:16, 11339 bytes
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