Skip to main content

Athanasius the Athonite, St.

ATHANASIUS THE ATHONITE, ST.

Byzantine founder of cenobitic monasticism on Mt. Athos; b. Trebizond, c. 920; d. Mt. Athos, c. 1000. His well-to-do family had him baptized Abraham. He studied at Constantinople and became a monk at Mount Kiminas under Abbot Michael Maleinos, uncle of nicephorus phocas (later emperor). While still a general, Nicephorus employed Abraham as his spiritual director. Abraham changed his name to Athanasius and retired to Mt. Athos as a hermit to escape court honors; however, he was persuaded to accompany the general during his campaign against the Saracens in Crete. With imperial support he founded the Great Lavra on Mt. Athos in 963 and introduced a Typicon, or rule, for cenobites based on the common-life ideals of St. basil the great and theodore the studite. Opposition to this innovation developed on the death of the emperor (969) and was combined with the accusation that the success of Athanasius's experiment was a result of imperial influence. But the new emperor, John I Tzimisces, rallied in favor of Athanasius, who had fled to Cyprus. Strengthened by a vision as well as by financial support, Athanasius returned to Mt. Athos, where he was killed c. 1000 when the masonry collapsed as he was laying the keystone of a dome. The Athanasian Hypotyposis was based upon the Studite rule but shows strong traces of Benedictine influence. A third document, the Diatyposis, deals with the succession and station of superiors and the rights of the epitropos, or adminstrator, and provides a directory for the Easter Liturgy and other rites. A factual life of Athanasius was written by a younger Athanasius who seems to have obtained most of his information from the founder's disciple, Anthony, and a John Hexapteryos. A second anonymous Bios, or life, seems to have been based on the first. Athanasius is named in the preparatory part of the Byzantine Eucharistic Liturgy.

Feast: July 5.

Bibliography: k. baus, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:976. p. meyer, Die Haupturkunden für die Geschichte der Athosklöster (Leipzig 1894). l. petit, "Vie de Saint Athanase l'Athonite," Analecta Bollandiana 25 (1906) 589. j. leroy, "S. Athanase l'Athonite et la règle S. Benoît," Revue d'ascétique et de mystique 29 (1953) 108122. e. amand de mendieta, La Presquîle des Caloyers: Le Mont-Athos (Paris 1955). h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 578, 588589. p. lemerle, "La Vie ancienne de S. Athanase l'Athonite," Le Millénaire du Mont Athos (Chevetogne 1963) 1:59100.

[g. a. maloney]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Athanasius the Athonite, St.." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Athanasius the Athonite, St.." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/athanasius-athonite-st

"Athanasius the Athonite, St.." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/athanasius-athonite-st

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.