National Geographic : 1916 Sep
I spare the reader a chronicle of our suc cessive risings up and lyings down at Vato pethi. He may, how ever, he interested to hear of the way in which they were regu lated. The first time I became conscious, in the watches of the night, of that all-per vasive hammering, I thought pirates must be upon us, as in days of old. WIIRERI BELLS TABOO ARE Then I remembered that Greek monks are called to prayer in a fashion of their own. Bells are not regarded with too much favor in the Levant. The fact that they are an innovation borrowed, albeit in the tenth cen tury, from schismatic Venice makes the orthodox doubt their appeal, while the Turks object to them even more strongly, lest they disturb wan dering spirits. For all ordinary purposes the monks use in their stead a hanging wooden p lank, or sometimes a smaller Photograph by I. G. Dwight IN TTTE CIIURCI OF VATOPETIIII: IMT. ATIIOS, GREECE In the rear is seen part of the richly carved and gilded screen which in a Greek church divides the altar from the chancel. The large icon at the right is one of the more highly prized treasures of the monastery, having been saved from the Church of St. Sophia in Saloniki just before that city was first cantured by the Turks metal bar, of which the necessary concomitant is a stout mal let. The rhythmic echo of these instru ments is the most characteristic sound of Mt. Athos, the voice, as it were, of its loyalty to other times. Twice a day, or every eight hours during seasons of fast ing, it calls the monks to church. And the stranger within their gates di vides his hours accordingly. His break fast is ready, if he is not, at the close of the night service. Shall I add that we were a little dismayed to be presented, in lieu of this meal, with the inevitable trav? I must confess that I am not fond of a beefsteak breakfast, and that I have no scruple against a liqueur; but I don't care for it the first thing in the morning, with nothing to go with it but a spoonful of jam and a thimbleful of black coffee. We had to beg the astonished cook for a bite of bread, and to lay in a secret stock of chocolate from Karyes, in or der to keep us going till lunch. This came early, either just before or just after the morning service, while dinner is always served at dark, to give the fathers time for a nap before the night office.