Georgian monks began to settle on Mt. Athos in the middle of the 10th century, and a Georgian monastery, Iveron, was founded there not long after.
At that time foreign armies were constantly invading Mt. Athos. In the 13th century the Crusaders stormed through the region, and between 1259 and 1306 the pope’s private army devastated Mt. Athos several times. Monks of Zographou and Vatopedi monasteries and the Protaton were martyred for the Orthodox Faith, and the monks of the Iveron Monastery eventually met the same fate.
During this period Georgian and Greek ascetics labored together at the Iveron Monastery, and many young ascetics of the new generation began to arrive from Georgia.
The Crusaders demanded that the Iveron monks convert to Catholicism and acknowledge the primacy of the Roman pope. But the monks condemned their fallacies and anathematized the doctrine of the Catholics.
According to the Patericon of Athos, the Iveron monks were forcibly expelled from their monastery. Nearly two hundred elderly monks were goaded like animals onto a ship that was subsequently sunk in the depths of the sea. The younger, healthier monks were deported to Italy and sold as slaves to the Jews.
Some sources claim this tragedy took place in the year 1259, while others record that the Georgian monks of the Holy Mountain were subject to the Latin persecutions over the course of four years, from 1276 to 1280.
© 2006 St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.