The New Athos Monastery is an active male monastery. The brethren of any monastery consists of people who have not married due to taking a vow of celibacy. For this reason, in the churches of monasteries the Sacrament of marriage – betrothal and wedding – is not carried out without special exceptional circumstances (military actions, absence of a parish church nearby, etc.).
In recent years, the practice of newlyweds visiting the New Athos Monastery as part of their wedding processions has begun to take place in Abkhazia. Unfortunately, newlyweds and their accompanying persons are not limited to just visiting the monastery.
Thus, when entering the territory of the monastery, cars of wedding processions emit loud, continuous sound signals. The newlyweds and those who accompanying them are often dressed inappropriately for visiting a monastery. The area around the monastery, including the memorial cemetery for soldiers who died in the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, is used by newlyweds and wedding guests as a backdrop for an impromptu “ceremony” of marriage. They bring the appropriate decorative paraphernalia, which is then used to take photos and videos of the “ceremony.” On the square in front of the monastery, those who accompanying the newlyweds arrange impromptu feasts, drinking alcoholic beverages on the hoods of cars or on the fence enclosing the square. At the same time, there are often cases when, after such a visit, leftover food, alcohol and household garbage remain on the square. Visit to the central cathedral church of St. Panteleimon by newlyweds most often turns into using the church as a backdrop and film set for wedding photos and videos. Those who accompanying the newlyweds usually make noise and ignore the established rules in the monastery. All of the above happens in front of a large number of visitors and guests of the monastery, whose perception of Abkhaz culture occurs against this background.
There is no need to talk about any reverence for the shrine and asking the newlyweds for God’s blessing on their married life. The brethren of the New Athos Monastery understand the desire of the newlyweds to film the moment of creating a new family in a blessed, beautiful and comfortable place. The monks of the monastery make enormous efforts to preserve the historical and architectural heritage for future generations. In this regard, we kindly ask organizers of wedding processions, including photo and videographers, to observe the following simple rules of conduct when filming weddings, which are acceptable when visiting the monastery:
1. When the wedding cortege vehicles enter the monastery territory, do not make sound signals; park the cars in the free parking zone of the monastery.
2. When visiting the inner territory of the monastery and cathedral church, be in appropriate attire, refraining from visiting the holy place in frivolous clothing.
3. Don’t make noise, don’t make a crowd, and don’t interfere with people in the church taking photos and videos.
4. It is strictly prohibited to hold impromptu marriage ceremonies on the territory of the monastery, especially on the site of the memorial cemetery!
5. It is prohibited to drink alcoholic beverages on the territory of the monastery.
The hierarchy of the New Athos Monastery asks you to accept the above rules with understanding. Marriage is a great sacrament that should not be performed against the backdrop of uncultured, disorderly behavior of its participants. The sacrament of marriage must first of all be kept in the memory of the newlyweds, and only then recorded with photos and video cameras.
Newlyweds should come to churches and monasteries to receive God’s blessing to create a family and a long, happy life together.