Russian Monks on Mount Athos: a Thousand Year History of St Panteleimon’s, by Nicholas Fennell (Holy Trinity Publications, New York, 2021). 247 pages + illustrations; price £20 + p&p.
This is an update on Fennell’s first book, The Russians on Athos, (Peter Lang, 2001). Russian Monks on Mount Athos is the culmination of twenty years’ work and a distillation of thousands of pages of source material, some from the impenetrable library of St Panteleimon Monastery. It allows the English reader to glimpse at a hitherto unavailable and gradually fading treasury of historical literature. The author has visited the monastery frequently over the past forty years, which he has seen dilapidated and restored. He has been personally acquainted with the last two abbots, known key figures in its recent history and met all four Moscow patriarchs who visited the monastery and were instrumental in its restoration; he also knew Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, St Sophrony the Athonite and Archbishop Vasily of Brussels. He witnessed significant events, such as the funeral and burial of one of the monastery’s stewards and the arrival from the USSR of a large group of monks, who later influenced the destiny of the house.