Romanians at Athos (Part II)

Another Romanian monastic settlement at Athos is Dumitru Valahu Holy Hermitage (Greek: Skiti Agiou Dimitriou Lakku, or Lakkoskiti) situated at a distance of 1/2 hour walk over the mountain from St. Paul Monastery (Greek: Agiou Pavlou), to which it belongs. It is built at an altitude of 280 m between Amalfino Tower, Marfonu and Antiathon, on Lakku Valley (Lakku means "wild ravine"). It was founded in the X-th century by monks from Moldavia. Today it consists of 10 cells, and is inhabited by 40-60 Romanian monks and brothers.

Within the Athonite organizational system, this monks settlement is a hermitage, which is dependent from Monastery St. Paul, one of the twenty large monasteries that traditionally govern the Holy Mountain. Also, Lakku is a Lavra-type hermitage, that is composed of several "cells" scattered about the area of two square kilometers. A Holy Mountain cell is a house with chapel in which several monks are living under the guidance of a confessor, including guest rooms, hall and other outbuildings. Each such cell has her life independent of the other during the week, but all of the monks gather on Sundays and holidays in the central church (Greek: katholikon) for common prayer and Divine Liturgy. A number of such cells with a large church and cemetery form a Lavra-type hermitage.

The place is known already in the XIV-th century, when the monks lining here were Serb ascets. In the era of Turkish occupation, began to come to this place monks from Moldavia, Besserabia and Transylvania, that continued to live here through the years until 1754, when the hermitage was desolate. After few years, however, by 1760, the hermitage was rehearsed by Moldavian monk Daniil. After 1830, the hermitage knows a great flowering: in 1849 was build the cemetery's little church dedicated to Assumption, in 1860 the water mill, and between 1898 and 1904 was build the big church, dedicated to St. Martyr Demetrius. At the beginning of XX-th century around the church there was a complex of 24 huts and cells, where lived 120 monks, but in the communist era in Romania (1947-1989) came harsh times for the Athonite Romanian monks, so by 1990 there were only 2-3 monks living here. One of them, Father Iulian from Hermitage Prodromu is the confessor of the most Romanian Athonite monks. Today, Lakku Hermitage is undergoing a new period of flowering, being populated again by Romanian monks.

The Proschinatar of Athonic Holy Mountain, written and printed by hieromonah Serafim at Bucharest in 1856, is rich of information and engravings, a true reference book on the history of the holy places, and the evidence of Romanian huge contributions to the center of Orthodox spirituality at Mount Athos. Basically, over a period of more than 5 centuries, the Romanian contribution to the Athos monastic complex is the first in size, far exceeding any other, even if the origins of the Romanian people are latin.