The Official Website of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia > Articles > New Athos Monastery and Emperor Alexander III. Caucasian collection, vol. 12 (2020)

New Athos Monastery and Emperor Alexander III. Caucasian collection, vol. 12 (2020)

 

Dorotheos (Dbar), archimandrite. New Athos Monastery and Emperor Alexander III // Caucasian collection: T. 12 (44) / Ed. V. V. Degoeva. – M.: Publishing house “Aspect Press”, 2020. – P. 40–56.

Abstract: It is a well-known fact that the Emperor Alexander III visited the New Athos monastery in 1888. Three memorial plaques, installed at the end of the 19th century in New Athos in memory of the visit by the imperial family prove this event. At the same time, Alexander III’s visit to the monastery, as well as these memorial plaques, gave rise to a myth about active participation of the emperor in the construction of the monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite in New Athos (Abkhazia). In this article, based on the memoirs of the first abbot of the New Athos monastery, Archimandrite Hieron, are described all details of the emperor and his family’s visit to the monastery during their journey on the Black Sea. The author draws a conclusion that the existing opinion that Emperor Alexander III participated in financing the construction of the New Athos Monastery is a myth. Memorial plaques testify only to the fact that the emperor visited the monastery and took part in the groundbreaking ceremony of the cathedral of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery.

 

Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar),

senior researcher of dep. history of Abkhazian Institute named after D. Gulia (Abkhazia), Doctor of Theology

 NEW ATHOS MONASTERY AND EMPEROR ALEXANDER III

1.Three memorial plaques of the late 19th century have survived in New Athos and the inscription of 1914. They are devoted to the visiting of the New Athos monastery by the Russian Emperor Alexander III (1845–1894) with his family (Empress Maria Feodorovna and their sons heir Nikolai and Grand Duke Georgy) on 24 September (6 October according to the modern calendar). width=

1. The first plaque in memory of the visit by the imperial family to the Intercession Church in New Athos on 24 September, 1888 was installed on the building of this church in New Athos. However, the exact location of its installation is unknown. In Soviet times, it was removed and later in the 90s of XX century, found among the construction waste. Nowadays the memorial plaque has been restored and is kept in the Church-Archaeological Museum of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia.

Three memorial plaques of the late 19th century have survived in New Athos and the inscription of 1914. They are devoted to the visiting of the New Athos monastery by the Russian Emperor Alexander III (1845–1894) with his family (Empress Maria Feodorovna and their sons heir Nikolai and Grand Duke Georgy) on 24 September (6 October according to the modern calendar).

The first plaque in memory of the visit by the imperial family to the Intercession Church in New Athos on 24 September, 1888 was installed on the building of this church in New Athos. However, the exact location of its installation is unknown. In Soviet times, it was removed and later in the 90s of XX century, found among the construction waste. Nowadays the memorial plaque has been restored and is kept in the Church-Archaeological Museum of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia (pic. 1) [1].

The second memorial plaque was installed on a steep cliff, to the right of the upper arch of the staircase on the dam (waterfall) in New Athos, in memory of visiting this place by the imperial family on 24 September, 1888. It is preserved to this day (pic. 2) [2].

The third plaque was installed on the western facade of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery, on the left side of the central entrance, in memory of the foundation of this cathedral on 24 September, 1888 with the participation of Emperor Alexander III. This memorial plaque has also been preserved (pic. 3)[3].

In the western narthex of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery, among the murals there is a memorial inscription of 1914, it also informs about the foundation of this cathedral on 24 September, 1888 with the participation of Emperor Alexander III (pic. 4) [4].

In addition, in the late of XIX century, the chapel of St. Alexander Nevsky (patron saint of Emperor Alexander III) was built on the meeting place of Emperor Alexander III (opposite the sea pier of the New Athos Monastery). Also during the blessing of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery, the Holy Meals (thrones) of its four side chapels were blessed in honor of the saints of the Church, whose names were borne by members of the imperial family [5]. And finally in the late XIX and early XX centuries at the request of the New Athos Monastery, collections of postcards and several types of chromolithographs with images of the imperial family, visiting New Athos in 1888 were issued [6].

All of the above events and artifacts gave rise to the myth of the active participation of the Russian Emperor Alexander III in the construction of the New Athos monastery.

In order to find out all the details of Emperor Alexander III’s visit to New Athos and his participation in the construction of the monastery, let’s learn the memoirs of the first abbot of the New Athos monastery, Archimandrite Jeron (1829–1912)[7], Emperor Alexander III visited the New Athos Monastery with his family when Archimandrite Jeron was the abbot of the New Athos Monastery. His memoirs were published in the historical collection of “Antiquity and Novelty”, published in St. Petersburg, 1906 [8].

In the middle of September 1888, the brethren of the New Athos Monastery received a notification that Emperor Alexander III and his family intended to visit New Athos on the way from Novorossiysk to Batum. From 20 September, authorities began to gather in the monastery, apparently together with the hierarchy (leadership) of the monastery, they made preparations for receiving the imperial family.

On 24 September, 1888, at 11 o’clock in the afternoon, two steamers appeared on the coast of New Athos: the cruiser “Moskva” and the military clipper “Memory of Mercury”. The monastery bell informed everyone about the arrival of the ships.

The cruiser Moskva, with the imperial family on board, anchored approximately 300 yards (640 m) off the coast of New Athos. The abbot of the New Athos monastery, Archimandrite Jeron and a representative of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on the Holy Mount Athos (Greece), Hieromonk Raphael[9] went to greet the guests. At the same time, the imperial family left the cruiser and headed for the seashore.

From the end of the monastery pier to the monastery gates (opposite the chapel of St. Alexander Nevsky) a deputation lined up, meeting the emperor[10]. The head of “civil honor”, the commander of the Caucasian troops, Prince A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov (1820–1893)[11] introduced Archimandrite Jeron, Hieromonk Raphael and representatives of the authorities to Emperor Alexander III. Inside the monastery courtyard, the emperor was greeted by “simple Russian people and Abkhazians.”

At that moment, when Emperor Alexander III went to the Church of the Intercession, Archimandrite Jeron asked the prince A.M. Dondukov-Korsakov: “Where would the Emperor go from the Church of the Intercession: to the foundation of the cathedral or to the ancient church of the Holy Apostle Simon the Canaanite?” The prince replied: “I received your telegram in Novorossiysk, on the way to you from Novorossiysk I informed the Emperor about your plan to build a new cathedral; the Emperor refused to take part in its foundation.”

Archimandrite Jeron was very upset by this news and began persistently asking Prince A.M. Dondukov-Korsakov to say again to Emperor Alexander III about his request. “I can’t repeat,” said the prince, “the Emperor refused to participate in the foundation of the new cathedral”.

Archimandrite Jeron wanted to know the reason for the refusal. Prince A.M. Dondukov-Korsakov replied that “the ceremony will last an hour or more and the emperor is wet from the heat.” The abbot of the monastery objected that he would shorten the ceremony and leave only two prayers for the erection of the cross and the first stone. Prince A.M. Dondukov-Korsakov again said to the emperor about the request of Fr. Jeron, saying that the monks had already done everything for the foundation of the cathedral, two prayers left to read. As a result, Alexander III agreed to participate in the foundation of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon.

At the entrance to the Church of the Intercession, Emperor Alexander III greeted the inhabitants of the New Athos Monastery, who were waiting for him here. Then he entered the church, on the parvis he was met by Bishop Gennady of Sukhum (1886–1889).

3. A memorial plaque of the late 19th century, installed on a steep cliff, to the right of the upper arch of the staircase on the dam (waterfall) in New Athos, in memory of visiting this place by the imperial family on 24 September, 1888. width=

3. Memorial plaque of the late 19th century, installed on the western facade of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery in memory of the foundation of this cathedral on 24 September, 1888 with the participation of the Russian Emperor Alexander III.

After leaving the Intercession Church, the imperial family climbed on the upper platform in monastic carriages, where the construction of the mountainous part of the New Athos Monastery was underway. Ceremony of the foundation of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon started here.

Bishop Gennady of Sukhum read a prayer for the raising of the cross. The cross was made of cypress. It was placed at the Holy Table in the central altar of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon (this relic was lost after the closure of the New Athos Monastery in 1924).

Alexander III took the cross from the hands of the hieromonks and went up to Bishop Gennady, who sprinkled it with holy water. Then Bishop Gennady offered a prayer, Hieromonk Raphael read the inscription on the tablet. Archimandrite Hieron put a particle of the relics of St. great martyr Panteleimon and a tablet with a commemorative inscription into a recess of the stone in the form of a cross. Further, the emperor was asked to lay the first stone.

Alexander III took lime with a shovel and put it on a slab. He placed a brick on top of the lime, hitting it three times with a hammer. The empress and the princes did the same thing. After them, the first bricks were laid by Bishop Gennady of Sukhum, Archimandrite Jeron and everyone who wished. Then Ektenia was proclaimed and Many years was sung.

After the ceremony of foundation of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon, Archimandrite Jeron invited Alexander III to look at the plans and sketches of the new cathedral and the entire monastery. The emperor looked through the plans, sketches and asked: “Who made this plan?” Archimandrite Jeron replied that the draft plan of the entire monastery was drawn up by him and the final version (with the plan and drawings of the cathedral) was made by the architect N.N. Nikonov (1849-1918) [12]. Alexander III smiled and said: “in Novocherkassk and other places the domes fell through.”

Further, Archimandrite Jeron invited Alexander III to see the ancient church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite. The emperor agreed and decided to walk on foot there. Father Jeron began to dissuade him from going on foot, because the road was in a very poor condition. The emperor insisted on his own will and the emperor together with the abbot of the monastery walked to the church of Apostle Simon the Canaanite [13]. Other persons who accompanied the emperor went down in carriages.

When Alexander III and Archimandrite Jeron came to the church of Apostle Simon the Canaanite, they waited for others in carriages and all together entered the ancient church. After litany, the imperial family kissed the cross. Then they examined the church and the “ancient painting” [14].

After visiting the church of Apostle Simon the Canaanite, the imperial family climbed to a dam (waterfall) built by monks on Psyrtskha river [15]. Having climbed the dam (waterfall), the imperial family went further, admiring the nature. Empress Maria Feodorovna went quite far along the path into the forest.

Archimandrite Jeron told he was afraid that someone of the natives (Abkhazians) could open fire, as they usually did at ceremonies and they could frighten the empress”.

Father Jeron asked Alexander III to ask the Empress not to go further, because “thorns could tear her dress there.” The emperor asked Maria Feodorovna to return back.

After visiting the dam, Alexander III visited the room where Bishop Gennady of Sukhum lived. The room of Bishop Gennady was located in the building of the monastery school (the modern secondary school of New Athos) [16].

Emperor Alexander III greeted the students of the monastery school for Abkhaz boys: “Hello, children!” The boys replied: “Good morning Your Imperial Majesty.” Then the boys sang “Save, Lord, your people,” and so on. Then the emperor got acquainted with the teacher of Theology at school Hieromonk Dorotheos. Emperor Alexander III asked him, who appointed him as Theology teacher at school, Fr. Dorotheos replied: “Archimandrite Macarius (abbot of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos in Greece).” Emperor: “Have you been sent from Mount Athos?” “Yes, I have, Your Imperial Majesty,” answered Hieromonk Dorotheos. Then the emperor asked a few more questions to the students of the monastery school. In conclusion, the children sang “God Save the Tsar,” and the emperor said to Hieromonk Dorotheos: “Thank you, your students are singing well” [17].

Further, Bishop Gennady of Sukhum introduced a newly-baptized Persian, named John to Alexander III and the emperor asked this man: “What made you convert to Orthodoxy?” The newly baptized confused a little but replied: “God gave me such a good mind and I understood that the Russian (Orthodox) faith is better, therefore I adopted the Orthodox faith.” Alexander III smiled and said: “Well, study and see.”

4.Commemorative inscription of 1914 among the murals of the western part of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery. width=

4.It informs about the foundation of this cathedral on 24 September, 1888 with the participation of Emperor Alexander III.

After meeting with students of the monastery school, Alexander III climbed to the first floor of the school, where the room of Bishop Gennady of Sukhum was located on. After dinner, Fr. Jeron asked Prince A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov to ask members of the imperial family to write their names in the book of memory. After Emperor Alexander III, his wife Maria Feodorovna and their children, heir Nicholay and Prince Georgy wrote down their names, people who accompanied the emperor did the same thing. Here are their names:

  • Prince Dondukov-Korsakov (Commander of the Caucasian troops, Prince A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov, 1820–1893);
  • Count Vorontsov-Dashkov (Minister of the Imperial Court, count I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov, 1837–1916);
  • K. Posiet (Minister of Railways K. N. Posiet, 1820–1899);
  • Pyotr Vannovsky (Minister of War P. S. Vannovsky, 1822-1904);
  • O. Richter (Member of the State Council, General O.B. Richter, 1830–1908);
  • Countess M. Golenishcheva-Kutuzova;
  • Adjutant General Danilovich (Teacher of Princes Nikolai and Georgy Alexandrovich, Adjutant General G.G. Danilovich, 1825-1906);
  • P. Cherevin (Lieutenant General P. A. Cherevin, 1837–1896);
  • Doctor Hirsch (Doctor of Medicine, Gustav-Friedrich Hirsch, 1828-1907);
  • Count Olsufiev (Head of the Chancellery of the Imperial Headquarters, Count A. V. Olsufiev, 1843-1907);
  • Baron Budberg (Assistant of the head of the Chancellery of the Imperial Headquarters, Baron A. A. Budberg, 1853–1914);
  • Prince V. Obolensky;
  • V. Sheremetev;
  • V. Basargin (Vice-Admiral V. G. Basargin, 1838–1893);
  • Major General V. Martynov.

Then Alexander III and his family went to the sea shore. On the sea shore the emperor boarded the launch and said to Archimandrite Jeron: “I will remember my visit to your monastery; I would like to see your cathedral finished.” The launch sailed away from the shore while the monastery’s singers were singing “Oh Lord, save Thy people.” Then a thanksgiving service was performed at the monastery (in the Church of Intercession of the Mother of God).

While the cruiser Moskva was anchored off the coast of New Athos, many courtiers came ashore to visit the monastery. All of them were presented with icons and albums by New Athos monks. In addition, various turning products were sent to Empress Maria Feodorovna.

Before dusk, all the brethren of the New Athos Monastery gathered on the hillock in order to say goodbye to the cruiser Moskva with the imperial family on board. At 23.00 the cruiser “Moskva” and the military clipper “Memory of Mercury” weighed anchors and sailed from the shores of New Athos.

According to the recollections of Archimandrite Jeron, one lady from the retinue of Emperor Alexander III said to a New Athos monk: “The emperor had a good rest here. All people are very official in front of the emperor. Everywhere he is always received pompously. He is tired of it and here you received him so easy, he felt like being at home, the emperor liked it a lot.”

According to the recollections of the first abbot of the New Athos monastery, Archimandrite Jeron, it is clear that the Russian emperor Alexander III did not have a purpose to visit New Athos. On his way from Novorossiysk to Batum, he and his family made a one-day stop at the New Athos Monastery. Moreover, at first Alexander III refused to take part in the foundation stone laying ceremony of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos monastery. And only the persistence of Archimandrite Jeron led to the fact that the emperor ascended to the mountainous part of the monastery and took part in the foundation ceremony of the large cathedral church of St. Panteleimon [18].

By the time Alexander III visited the New Athos Monastery (1888), the Intercession Church and all other buildings of the lower complex of the New Athos Monastery had already been built, the Church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite (in 1882) had been restored and the construction of the mountainous part of the monastery was going on. The construction of buildings and churches on the mountainous part of the New Athos Monastery (the modern complex of the New Athos Monastery) began at the end of 1883 and in March 1896 the brethren of the monastery lived there. The construction of buildings on the mountainous part of the New Athos Monastery was completed by 1912 [19].

By 1888, when Alexander III visited the New Athos Monastery, the large cathedral church of St. Panteleimon, a bell tower in the upper part of the monastery were not build yet, fraternal buildings as well [20]. But in the memoirs of Archimandrite Jeron, there is no information about the contribution of funds by Emperor Alexander III for the construction of the New Athos Monastery. If Alexander III helped with the construction of the New Athos Monastery, surely, it would be reported in the memoirs of Archimandrite Jeron. By the way, these memoirs were prepared and published in 1906 by the Batumi Department of the Society of Historical Enlightenment in memory of Emperor Alexander III [21].

The plaques in New Athos, a commemorative inscription among the frescoes of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon, chromolithographs, etc., which we talked about at the very beginning, all these artifacts testify only to the visit of Emperor Alexander III and his family of the New Athos monastery and their participation in the foundation stone laying ceremony of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon. They do not contain any information on the assistance of the imperial family to the New Athos monastery.

The reason for the persistent wish of Archimandrite Jeron, that the foundation stone laying ceremony of the large cathedral church of St. Panteleimon of the New Athos Monastery took place with the participation of the imperial family, as well as the appearance of memorial plaques, postcards and chromolithographs devoted to this event, is quite clear and explainable: to attract the attention of people (pilgrims, officials, local nobility, merchants, etc.) to the construction of the New Athos Monastery.

In conclusion, I would like to note that among the stories and legends dedicated to the adventures of the storyteller Chatsa Chagua (Abh. Чаҵә Чагә, 1835–1930), collected and published by Zaur Butba, there is a short story entitled “Chagu and Emperor Alexander III “[22]. This story was written down on 17 October 1962, told by the 70-year-old Mikha Ajinjal, a resident of New Athos [23]. However, taking into account the above real events related to the visit of the Russian Emperor Alexander III and his family to New Athos, the content of the story “Chagu and Emperor Alexander III” seems like a legend [24].

 

 

[1] The first plaque (74 x 120 cm) contains the following inscription: «Сей храмъ соизволили посѣтить въ 24й день Сентября 1888 г. Ихъ Имепраторскія Величества Благочестивѣйшій Государь Императоръ Александръ ІІІ Александровичъ Самодержецъ Всероссійскій и Благочестивѣйшая Государыня Имепратрица Марія Ѳеодоровна съ Ихъ Императорскими Высочествами Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Наслѣдникомъ Цесаревичемъ и Великимъ Княземъ Николаемъ Александровичемъ и Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Великимъ Княземъ Георгіемъ Александровичемъ».

[2] The second plaque (72 x 121 cm) contains the following inscription: «Мѣсто сіе соизволили посѣтить и проходить за плотину въ 24 день Сентября 1888 г. Ихъ Имепраторскія Величества Благочестивѣйшій Государь Императоръ Александръ ІІІ Александровичъ Самодержецъ Всероссійскій и Благочестивѣйшая Государыня Имепратрица Марія Ѳеодоровна съ Ихъ Императорскими Высочествами Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Наслѣдникомъ Цесаревичемъ и Великимъ Княземъ Николаемъ Александровичемъ и Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Великимъ Княземъ Георгіемъ Александровичемъ».

[3] The third plaque (88 x 142 cm) contains the following inscription: «Сей Соборный Храмъ въ честь Св. Великомученика и Цѣлителя Пантелеимона соизволили собственноручно заложить Ихъ Имепраторскія Величества Благочестивѣйшій Государь Императоръ Александръ ІІІ Александровичъ Самодержецъ Всероссійскій и Благочестивѣйшая Государыня Имепратрица Марія Ѳеодоровна съ Ихъ Императорскими Высочествами Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Наслѣдникомъ Цесаревичемъ и Великимъ Княземъ Николаемъ Александровичемъ и Благовѣрнымъ Государемъ Великимъ Княземъ Георгіемъ Александровичемъ. Закладка совершена въ 24й день Сентярбя 1888 года, при Преосвященнѣйшемъ ГЕНАДІѢ Епископѣ Сухумскомъ и Игуменѣ сего Монастыря ІЕРОНѢ».

[4] The inscription among the murals on the walls of the western part of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon contains the following text: «Во Славу Святыя Живоначальныя Троицы, Отца и Сына и Святаго Духа. Основанъ сей соборный храмъ въ честь св. великомученика и целителя ПАНТЕЛЕИМОНА, съ придѣлами въ честь святителя и чудотворца НИКОЛАЯ св. Благовѣрнаго Князя АЛЕѮАНДРА Невскаго св. великомученика ГЕОРГЇЯ Побѣдоносца и св. Мѵроносицы МАРЇИ Магдалины. Закладку храма собственноручно соизволили совершить ИХЪ ИМПЕРАТОРСКЇЯ Величества Благочестивѣйшїй Государь ИМПЕРАТОРЪ АЛЕѮАНДРЪ ІІІ и Государыня ИМПЕРАТРІЦА МАРЇЯ ѲЕОДѠРОВНА И ИХЪ ИМПЕРАТОРСКЇЯ Высочества Благовѣрный Государь Наслѣдникъ Цесаревичъ НИКОЛАЙ АЛЕѮАНДРОВИЧЪ и Великїй Князь ГЕОРГЇЙ АЛЕѮАНДРОВИЧЪ въ 24й день сентярбя 1888 года при святительствѣ Преосвященнѣйшаго ГЕНАДЇЯ Епископа Сухумскаго при настоятелѣ обители сей игуменѣ ІЕРОНѢ. Освященъ 28го сентября 1900 года при державѣ Благочестивѣйшаго Самодержавнѣйшаго Великаго Государя ЇМПЕРАТОРА НИКОЛАЯ ІІ при Супругѣ ЕГѠ Благочестивѣйшей Государынѣ ІМПЕРАТРІЦѢ АЛЕѮАНДРѢ ѲЕОДѠРОВНѢ. Матери ЕГѠ Благочестивѣйшей Государынѣ ИМПЕРАТРІЦѢ МАРЇИ ѲЕОДѠРОВНѢ при Наслѣдникѣ ЕГѠ Благовѣрномъ Государѣ Великомъ Князѣ МИХАИЛЕѢ АЛЕѮАНДРОВИЧѢ священнодѣйствїемъ преосвященнаго АРСЕНІЯ епископа Сухумск. при настоятелѣ обители сей архимандритѣ ІЕРОНѢ. Сооруженъ сей храмъ по проекту и подъ наблюдениїемъ архитектора Н. Н. НИКОНОВА».

[5] The lower left side-chapel of the cathedral church of St. Panteleimon was blessed in honor of St. Alexander Nevsky (patron saint of Emperor Alexander III), the lower right side-chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra (patron saint of Nicholas Alexandrovich, the future Emperor Nicholas II), the left side-chapel on the chorales of St. Mary Magdalene (patroness of Empress Maria Feodorovna) and the right side-chapel on the chorales of St. Great Martyr George (patron saint of Duke Georgy Alexandrovich).

[6] In the funds of the Municipal Autonomous Institution of “Regional Historical, Cultural and Ecological Center” in Megion (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug), in the collection of “Posters and Postcards”, there is a collection of unique postcards of the 19th century: “Visit of Emperor Alexander III to the New Athos Monastery” (11 pieces; material: paper, print; size of postcards: 8.0 x 11.8 cm). A set of these postcards was accepted as a gift from V.P. Pavlovskaya in 1995. List of postcards: 1) “Meeting of Their Imperial Majesties and presentation of the Sukhum deputation” (MKMKP-1438/1. PP-237); 2) “Meeting in the church of Their Imperial Majesties with Bishop Gennady” (MKMKP-1438/2. PP-238); 3) “The ancient church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite in New Athos, near the city of Sukhum in the Caucasus”(MKMKP-1438/3. PP-239); 4) “The Emperor asks the newly baptized in the school” (MKMKP-1438/4. PP-240); 5) “The stone laying ceremony of the church in the name of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon and the raising of the Cross by the Emperor” (MKMKP-1438/5. PP-241); 6) “Their Imperial Majesties on the Dam” (MKMKP-1438/6. PP-242); 7) “Their Imperial Majesties with the family are returning from New Athos to the steamer” (MKMKP-1438/7. PP-243); 8) “Their Imperial Majesties at the fountain at the ancient church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite “(MKMKP-1438/8. PP-244); 9) “View of the New Athos monastery in the Caucasus” (MKMKP-1438/9. PP-245); 10) “Arrival to New Athos of Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor with his family” (MKMKP-1438/10. PP-246); 11) “Procession of the Emperor from the stone laying ceremony to the ancient church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite “(ICMKP-1438/11.PP-247)(https://docplayer.ru/37204186-Vintazhnye-otkrytki-kak-simvol-istorii-vizit-imperatora-aleksandra-iii-v-novo-afonskiy-monastyr.html). The fund of the Church-Archaeological Museum of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia keeps three chromolithographs with scenes of the imperial family’s visit of New Athos in 1888 (Lithographs of the late XIX – early XX centuries with views of the monasteries of Abkhazia from the fund of the Church-Archaeological Museum of HMA // https://anyha.org/litografii-s-vidami-monastyrei-abkhazii/).

[7] See: Bronzov A. A. Archimandrite Jeron, abbot of the New Athos monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite († August 14, 1912) // Christian reading, 1913, no. 3, p. 325-349; 1913, no. 4, p. 458-468; 1913, no. 5, p. 630-649; 1913, no. 6, p. 747-768 (http://apsnyteka.org/2556-bronzov_a_arhimandrit_ieron_hristianskoe_chtenie_1913.html); Peter (Pigol), abbot. Schiarchimandrite Jeron (Vasiliev Ivan Vasilievich, 1835 (1829?) – 1912) // Orthodox Encyclopedia, 21 (2009), p. 314-316 (http://www.pravenc.ru/text/293694.html).

[8] Memories of Archimandrite Jeron on the visit of Emperor Alexander III and his family to the New Athos monastery in 1888. (Reported by the Batumi Department of the Society of Historical Enlightenment in memory of Emperor Alexander III) // Old and new. Historical collection. Book. XI. SPb., 1906. – pp. 267–277 (https://xn--90ax2c.xn--p1ai/catalog/000199_000009_006669904/viewer/?page=136). See also: A visit by their Imperial Majesties with the family of New Athos in the Caucasus on 24 September, 1888. Odessa, 1894 (this issue was not available to us).

[9] Hieromonk Raphael came from Mount Athos (Greece) as a representative of Archimandrite Macarius (1820-1889), abbot of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, who could not come (was ill) to the meeting with Emperor Alexander III. At that time, the New Athos monastery was subordinate to the monastery of St. Panteleimon in Greece. The monastery of St. Panteleimon in Greece was subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as all monasteries on mount Athos, Greece.

[10] One of the postcards of late XIX century, from the collection of “Visit of Emperor Alexander III to the New Athos Monastery” (see note 6), has the following inscription: “Meeting of Their Imperial Majesties and presentation of the Sukhum deputation.”

[11] In the published chronicle of the New Athos Monastery, there is information on two previous visits to the monastery by the commander of the Caucasian troops, adjutant general, Prince A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov (1820-1893). For the first time A.M. Dondukov-Korsakov visited the New Athos Monastery on 22 February, 1882.The second time was on 22 September 1884, accompanied by a large retinue (about 40 people) (see Abkhazia and the New Athos Monastery of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite. New, modified and supplemented publication. Compiled by I.N. Moscow, 1899. – P. 221, 224).

[12]In the materials collected by prof. A. A. Bronzov, in the above biography of Archimandrite Jeron, there is information about participation of the Petersburg architect N.N. Nikonov in the construction of the New Athos Monastery. In these materials there are notes made by Father Jeron. “Inside the New Athos monastery within the construction,” according to Fr. Jeron, – a lot of earth had to be cut off, so in this way the area would be flat. But this earth began to crawl down. People worried about that. All people thought that the whole mountain was crawling down and the monastery was going to crawl down. Our monks began to complain to the elders (the elders of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on the Holy Mount Athos in Greece) about their abbot, that is, about me and wrote that the mountain was crawling down and nevertheless Jeron continued the construction. The elders demanded an explanation from me and I did it. I assured the elders that the ground under the monastery was good and the monastery stood firmly. Only the cut earth that had been taken from the inside of the monastery was crawling down. Although the elders believed me, they invited the architect N.N. Nikonov from St. Petersburg, who was building a courtyard (of the New Athos Monastery) in the capital. The architect came, examined the buildings and assured everyone that there was absolutely no danger for the monastery. The elders calmed down. And I took the opportunity and asked this architect to draw a plan for the future monastery cathedral, although it had not been decided to build it yet. I just wanted to have this plan. I explained to the architect what kind of “cathedral” it would be, what style, etc. The architect quickly made a drawing and so successfully, that there was no need to change it anymore. It only remained to draw the whole plan cleaner and the facade of the cathedral church”(Bronzov A. A. Decree. Cit. – p. 641–642).

[13] Emperor Alexander III walked along only one road, it’s a road to the church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite on the western slope of the hill, the monastery complex is located on there.

[14] From the memories of Father Jeron it is clear that during the restoration of the church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite the monks preserved the fragments of ancient frescoes on its walls. The church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite was completely restored in 1882, and on 10 May (23 May according to the modern calendar) of the same year, on the Memory day of this apostle.

[15] Construction of a concrete dam on Psyrtskha river was completed on December 1882 (Abkhazia and the New Athos Monastery of Simon the Canaanite. Compiled by I. N. Moscow, 1899 – p. 223; Bronzov A. A. Decree. Op. – p. 642– 643, note 1).

[16] Bishop Gennady of Sukhum lived in the New Athos monastery (in the building of the monastery school) from 1887 to March 31, 1889, it was the day of his death. His body was buried inside the church of St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite (Abkhazia and the New Athos Monastery of Simon the Canaanite. Compiled by I. N. Moscow, 1899. – p. 226; Bronzov A. A. Decree. Op. – p. 642 –643, note 1).

[17] E.M. Chkok-Eshba in his article on the history of the New Athos parochial school, with reference to an archival document kept in the Central State Archives of the Abkhazian ASSR (TsGAA, f. 11, d. 50, l. 12), informs that Emperor Alexander III donated 500 rubles to the New Athos monastery school (Chkok-Eshba E.M. from the history of public education in Abkhazia (New Athos parochial school) // Works of the Abkhaz State University, 6 (1988), p. 82).

[18] In the materials collected by prof. A.A. Bronzov, are given the following information. According to Fr. Jeron “in 1888, the Emperor and his family were expected in the Caucasus. So active preparations were made everywhere for such a rare and desired visit. It was clear that they would visit our monastery too and we also made preparations. And I thought it would be great if the Emperor participated in the stone laying ceremony of the cathedral church. I began to ask the elders (elders of the monastery of St.Panteleimon on Mount Athos, Greece) to give their blessing to this idea and I suggested them to prepare a territory for the church’s foundation. The elders knew that I didn’t have money for this idea’s implementation and so they didn’t give their blessing. “If the Emperor asks you, do you have money for the cathedral’s construction and he will find out that you don’t have money for that, it’s no good, – They said to me. But I again began to ask the elders and finally they agreed. There was no road from the pier up to the cathedral and the construction works of the road began. (Bronzov A. A. Decree. Op. – p. 643–644).

[19] Details of the history of the construction of the mountainous part of the New Athos monastery are described in the biography of Archimandrite Jeron, compiled by prof. A. A. Bronzov. In particular, according to Fr. Jeron, “in 1884, Ivan Ivanovich Stakheev, a merchant from Vyatka governarate, came here (to New Athos), he had traveled to Jerusalem and visited Old Athos, he was generous and donated money everywhere for religious institutions and monasteries. He gave me 1,000 rubles for our new monastery. I got 200 rubles from various other visitors. Thus, there was 1200 rubles. I began to ask Father Jerome to bless the construction of the monastery, explaining to him that I had 1200 rubles (about one and a half million modern Russian rubles) for that purpose. I wrote to him: “Father! Of course, this amount is insignificant for such a great deed, but I hope God will help us. If you bless this activity, the Lord will help us. We don’t have more money and we can’t delay the construction of the monastery, if you pass away we shan’t be able to do anything. So while you are alive, bless the construction of the mountainous part of the monastery”» (Bronzov A. A. Decree. Op. – p. 638–639, n.1). According to Fr. Jeron, two years later he managed to convince the elders of the monastery of St. Panteleimon of the Holy Mount Athos (Greece)to support the construction of the mountainous part of the monastery in New Athos. Initially they didn’t want to give money for that. Hieromonk Meletios was sent to holy mount Athos for this purpose. Monastery of St. Panteleimon of the Holy Mount Athos (Greece) gave 14,000 rubles (about 18 million modern Russian rubles). «When we got this money, – said archimandrite Jeron, – the construction of the monastery became much more successfully going. Afterwards Athos elders constantly provided us with financial assistance. For example, they gave 100,000 rubles for the construction of the cathedral (about 130 million modern Russian rubles). They also built a courtyard in St. Petersburg for New Athos and sent monks and singers there. God blessed the New Athos monastery and the monastery began to get a constant income for the construction works. This helped to continue the construction of monasteries in the Caucasus “(A. Bronzov. Decree Op. – p. 641).

[20] From the postcard of late XIX century, the collection of “Visit of Emperor Alexander III to the New Athos Monastery” (see note 6), it shows a general view of the New Athos Monastery at the time of visit by Emperor Alexander III, it is clear that by 1888 a ground floor was only built in the mountainous part of the New Athos monastery.

[21] The only thing that was found out, according to prof. A.A. Bronzov, according to a handwritten postscript made by the New Athos monks on one of the copies of the brochure entitled “A visit by their imperial majesties with the family of New Athos in the Caucasus on 24 September, 1888” (Odessa, 1894), three hours later, upon the departure of the imperial family from the monastery to the cruiser Moskva, which until 23.00 was still anchored off the coast of New Athos, “the adjutant brought a package from the Empress with 5000 rubles (about six million modern Russian rubles) for the needs of the monastery ”(A. A. Bronzov, op. cit. – p. 645).

[22] See: Butba Z.R. The Adventures of Chagu Chatsba. Stories, anecdotes, legends. Ed. 2nd, supplemented. Sukhum, 2009. – P. 8-9; Чаҵә Чагә диижьҭеи 175 шықәса ҵит // Алашара, 4 (2006), ад. 190.

[23] Butba ZR Decree. op. – P. 351.

[24] «Аурыс ҳәынҭқар Алықьсандр III иԥҳәыси иԥа Николаи II иманы Аԥсны, Ԥсырӡха, Афон Ҿыц ҳәа хьӡыс изырҭаз ашҟа дааит. Абраҟа ахәаҿы инхоз иуацәак рҟны сасра дыҟан Чаҵә Чагәгьы. Уи агаҟа дахьналбааз, аҳәынҭқар иԥылоз ауаа дуқәа дҩарыдгылт. Ара иҟан аберцәа реиҳабацәа, иара убас аҭауд қәыԥш Гьаргь Чачбагьы. Уи ибзианы дидыруан Аԥсны иахьабалакь зыӡбахә неиҩхьаз Чаҵә Чагә. Уажәы ара даниба, аҳәынҭқар иахьиԥылоз уҽҳалархә ҳәа днеиԥхьеит.

Аҳәынҭқар, уи иҭаацәа, нас иара иԥылоз зегьы хыхь зыргылара иаҿыз аберцәа рхан ашҟа рҿынархеит. Уи иааигәан, рацәак бжьамызт азы излахалоз амҩа уарҳалла ихҟьаны ирзыҟарҵеит. Ианхала, рацәак инымхакәа, рышьҭахьҟа илбааит.

Аҳәынҭқар иԥҳәыс, Чагә аԥсуа маҭәала деилаҳәаны, дӷьазӷьазуа, адауаԥшь еиԥш данылба, Гьаргь Чачба диазҵааит абри дызусҭада ҳәа. Ари Аԥсны анҭыҵгьы зыӡбахә неиҩхьоу алафҳәаҩ ду, ажәабжьҳәаҩ, аурысшәагьы здыруа Чагә Чаҵәба шиакәыз анлеиҳәа, аҳәынҭқар ԥҳәыс, илаҳаз лгәы иахәан, лхаҵа иалҳәеит.

Ас заҳаз аҳәынҭқар Чагә дааиԥхьан, ихшыҩҵарра ԥишәараз:

— Иуҭахызар ачын ду усҭап, абра Афон  Ҿыц аберцәа рҟны уанааилакь, абас ауарҳалқәа узкаршәны иуԥылартә еиԥш. Иахыуҳәаауазеи? — иҳәан, диазҵааит.

— Иҭабуп, уххь згеит, аха ус аҟаҵара иаԥсам… Аберцәа ақәшаҳаҭымхар ҳәа сшәоит, — иҳәеит Чагә.

— Избан! — дҵааит иџьашьаны аурыс ҳәынҭқар.

— Избанзар, сара уаҩ ӷарк соуп, ара сааицыԥхьаӡа аберцәа ауарҳалқәа каршәны ачеиџьыка сзыҟарҵо иалагар, лассы-ласс ааира самхалагоит. Ус лассы-ласс ааира салагар, ари ҳихәом, ачын ду зышәҭаз ҳуарҳалқәа ирхеит ҳәа шәышҟа инеины сзашшра иалагоит. Убри аҟнытә, уххь згеит, исымх, исықәнагом сара убри аҩыза ачын ду, еиҳа еиӷьуп, саԥсауа нхаҩны сшыҟоу сыҟазааит» (Чаҵә Чагә аурыс ҳәынҭқар Алықьсандр III // Алашара, 4 (2006), ад. 190).