Online lecture: The Lonely Mountain: The Emergence of a ‘Hagiorite’ Identity on Medieval Mount Athos; by Zachary Chitwood, 24 January 2023, 12-1.30pm EST

The Mary Jaharis Center is pleased to announce its first lecture of 2023: The Lonely Mountain: The Emergence of a ‘Hagiorite’ Identity on Medieval Mount Athos. In this lecture, Dr. Zachary Chitwood, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, will discuss the emergence of a unique “Athonite” or “Hagiorite” identity on Mount Athos over the course of the Middle Ages.

In Late Antiquity most Byzantine authors identified sacred mountains through the lens of biblical history, especially the mountains associated with the life of Jesus (Mount of Olives, Mount Tabor) or the Prophet Moses (Mount Nebo, Mount Sinai). By the time of the emergence of communal monasticism on Mount Athos in the middle of the tenth century, Athos could be counted as one of several “Holy Mountains” that housed monastic confederations within the Byzantine Empire, most of which were in western Asia Minor. Yet by the end of the medieval period, the term “Holy Mountain” had strong associations with Athos.  

The rich documentation of medieval Mount Athos allows the mapping of the development of a “Hagiorite” identity in a variety of different contexts. In this lecture, three strands of Athonite identity will be explored: 1) in a legal sense, with Mount Athos as a circumscribed monastic space with specific rights and privileges; 2) as a literary construct, as a place of longing and desire; 3) as a landmark within the sacred geography of the Orthodox world. 

This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register here to receive the Zoom link.

Zachary Chitwood is a Lecturer in Byzantine Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Principal Investigator of the ERC Starting Grant MAMEMS “Mount Athos in Medieval Eastern Mediterranean Society: Contextualizing the History of a Monastic Republic, ca. 850-1550”. He has published on various aspects of Byzantine culture, including law, monasticism and interactions with the wider medieval world.


Published by Dr Julia Faiers

Julia Faiers received her PhD from the University of St Andrews in 2021. She wrote her thesis on the art patronage of Louis d’Amboise, bishop of Albi from 1474 to 1503, under the supervision of Professor Kathryn Rudy. Her postdoctoral research includes the nineteenth-century reception of medieval art and architecture, and late-medieval female art patronage in France. Julia gained a First Class Honours degree in art history at the University of St Andrews (1995). She won a British Academy Award to study for her MA in German Expressionism at The Courtauld under the supervision of Dr Shulamith Behr (1997), and spent almost twenty years working as a journalist before returning to academia in 2016.

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