Religions are full stories told to inspire mankind or make it bend the knee in front of the priests, monks and other representatives. Stories that are sometimes told to make the believers fear the wrath of a God supposed to love them or to teach people how to be better. Mount Athos is not free from such stories of worship. It’s actually full of it. People chose to believe them or not. It’s all a matter of faith. I’m agnostic so all I can tell you is: whatever works for you is fine by me.
Among these stories is one of the life Athanasius the Athonite which I find interesting and it’s in this place that I met two people (Ulysse and George) who made my journey through the Athos far more enjoyable. Athanasius, who built the Great Lavra Monastery, was supposed to have run out of money to build the monastery and was on his way to the main city in order to raise funds to continue the construction when he crossed paths with a woman. As you may know or not, women are not allowed on Mount Athos because it’s the Garden of the Virgin Mary (a law called Abaton). Athanasius believed the woman was a demon, but she revealed herself to be the Virgin Mary. When he asked for a proof, she told him to hit a rock with his stick. He did. The rock broke right away in the symbol of a cross and water started to come out in a rushing waterfall. Since then, the water only started to come out when people wanted to use it for profit by building a windmill. The running water stopped, leaving the windmill out of use. When the workers leaved, the water ran out again and never stopped ever since.
People now stop at the source to take holy water and bring it home or simply drink it. You can find plenty of empty bottles over there to take with you, it's quite an amusing scene.
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