Magazine: Seasons of life

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Before the revolution there were two apiaries and 450 beehives at the New Athos monastery. Now raw materials are brought from all villages of Abkhazia and the monks manually make scented candles from mountain wax.

Over a year in the monastery there are made more than a million candles. The color of the wax depends on the color of the honey, it is usually between dark brown and light gold. Frozen wax is cut and fed into the machine, where the wax coats the wick and is cut to pieces. Wax dice chopped with an ax, the melted wax is filtered through a sieve to remove litter and poured into molds.

“Everything is done consciously, with prayer and a clean mindset for work”

Simon the Canaanite is one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. He preached in Abkhazia and was buried in New Athos (in ancient times – Anakopia). Nowadays in the monastery of Simon the Canaanite today 10 monks and novices pray and work.
Candle making obedience is carried out by the monk Kirill; he is assisted by young Abkhaz laymen who adopt a rare method of making candles. They work in the basement under the church of St. Andrew. Most monasteries and temples use paraffin candles, produced at candle factories. In New Athos, candles are made from pure wax without additives and dyes mostly by hand.

“Sometimes, at the request of the hegumen, they also make big, altar candles”

The rooms where the ancient Christians gathered in at night to read the Holy Scriptures and celebrate the Eucharist, lit lamps and candles. However these subjects got spiritual meaning too early. Between II – III centuries, Tertullian wrote: “We never perform liturgy without lamps, but we do not use them only to disperse the darkness of the night — the liturgy takes place in daylight; we do it in order to depict Christ through this – uncreated light, without it we would have wandered in darkness even in daytime”.

Making candles, like everything that is done in the monastery, is accompanied with a prayer. The place of work must be consecrated with holy water, it is obligatory the presence of holy images, the burning of a lamp and the burning of incense. The spiritual attitude of monks, novices, and laborers who labor in monasteries is very important. If these people are not spiritually vigilant, do not properly take care of their working place, then their work can easily turn into a routine work that is no different from work in a factory.


Text: Inhabitant of the New Athos Monastery Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar)
Photo: Anna Davydova

Published in  Seasons of life, Issue 32

Source: Днём с огнём