The Monastery Today

The evolution of the Holy Monastery of the Ascension after Archimandrite Ioakim

From the moment when Monk Achillios was appointed caretaker (abbot) of the Holy Monastery of the Ascension, in 2009, he immediately began the efforts to bring people to live a monastic life in the monastery and to landscape it.

First, efforts were made to create a community of monks, but they led to no results. Thus, one year later, in 2010, the foundations of a small community of cenobitic nuns were laid, under the guidance of Monk Achillios, which today has been increased and it consists of eight nuns.

As far as the works are concerned, the first work which was done was the embellishment of the central entrance to the monastery (which is across the place of the Ascension). After that, the basement Church was renovated, and the damaged paintings of Saints were restored. The Altar was enlarged, and a Sacrarium was created, for the Relics that are in the monastery. Two big wooden kiosks were constructed and a stone table underneath these kiosks, the northern entrance of the monastery was renovated, a new electrical installation was created, surveillance cameras and big lights were placed inside the monastery, a flower garden was made and many other major and minor works were made.

Despite the works that have been done, there are still many things which are missing in the monastery. The works which are now in progress are the repair and restoration works on parts of the stone wall of the monastery (half of which has already been repaired). Moreover, the metal fence placed on the wall has to be repaired, and new one has to be installed on some parts of the wall where it does not exist. Some other works that need to be done immediately concern the improvement of the living conditions of nuns in the monastery, more precisely the nuns live in 11 cells in which unfortunately the problems are too many;  the cells do not have heating (other parts of the monastery lack heating as well), they need a lot of interior improvements and repairs, and finally, they are covered with a temporary roof which is made of synthetic insulated materials, and which has to be replaced with a permanent one made of cement. Additionally, the ceramic roofs of the two buildings that are in the monastery have to be repaired, the basement Church has to be water proofed, and the flower gardens have to be expanded. The list is not comprehensive – there are still more works that we have to do. If we also consider the difficult economic situation of our times, the works that we have referred to will need a lot of time to be completed.

Of course, the improvements, the repairs and the maintenance of the buildings do not constitute the main duty of the monastery. The main duty of the monastery is the maintenance of the presence of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in this place, but surely the role is not restricted to this. The monastery is also an important place of veneration. It remains open daily, it receives pilgrims, it guides them and, to the extent that it can do that, it offers refreshments and blessings. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated regularly (where names are read in the proskomedia), services for the dead and special prayers, etc. are made, and in general, there is a broader useful work for the soul.

Finally, besides that, in the monastery one can also experience Orthodox cenobitic monasticism, even though with some shortcomings. The monastery, together with the Holy Monastery of Martha and Maria in Bethany and the Holy Monastery on Tabor Mountain, are the three active communal monasteries in the Holy Land. So today, the Holy Monastery of the Ascension, under the guidance of Monk Achillios, continues its evolution despite the special conditions which prevail in the Holy Land (and especially in a difficult area like the area of Mount of Olives), with the wishes of His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III, the care of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the love and support of pious pilgrims, for the maintenance of the holy institution of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, for the Glory to God and for the spiritual benefit of the pilgrims.

And Finally Glory to God!

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