The beautiful ‘’Asteriou’’ monastery is
an excellent example of Greek religious art standing in
a cool, bird inhabited grove of pines and cypresses on the
middle site of mount ‘’Hymettus’’ a completely peaceful
place dedicated to prayer and worship of God. The natural
beauty of mount ‘’Hymettus’’ is extraordinary. The small
monastery is founded in a quite mountainside to a cross
and wooden bench at 545 elevation enjoying at the same time
the attractive view of the capital city of Athens.
A first historical reference says that the metropolitan
of Athens ‘’Asterios’’ has been very influential in the
creation of the monastery around the 5th century. However,
‘’Asterios’’ is not mentioned in the formal metropolitan
catalogues at that time. On the other hand, according to
a second version ‘’st. Lukas of Stiriou’’ became a monk
and he lived in the monastery around 920 A.D. Later on he
left for the city of ‘’Lebadia’’ building the famous monastery
of St. Lukas whose memory is commemorated on February 7th.
The insistence of the above historical approach is that
the name of ‘’moni Asteriou’’ was given by paraphrasing
the word ‘’Lukas of Stiriou’’ leading to ‘’Asteriou’’ the
The earliest reference for the monastery is from the 10th
century. Approaching the monastery we observe that the whole
building is protected by a wall like a small castle protecting
at the same time the main church ‘’catholicon’’ and the
other two small buildings near to the main church. Since
that moment both buildings are well endowed and conserved.
Following the way down we also see the dilapidated Byzantine
tower of ‘’Anthousa’’.
Moni Asteriou is belonging to the ‘’Monastery of Asomaton
Petraki’’ that is subjected to the Holy Archdiocese of Athens
as regards its religious aspect. Monks inhabited Moni Asteriou
since 1960. Up to that time the monastery works as an ecclesiastical
monumental building being inspected by the 1st Archaeological
eforia of Athens. In our days the monastery is supported
and encouraged by the abbot and the brotherhood of the mother
monastery ‘’Moni Asomaton Petraki’’ wishes and endeavourers
to give with a dynamic spiritual attendance its own orthodox
worship to our God. For this reason, particularly if weather
permitted, divine services are performed in the monastery.
The monastery of Asteriou, like the Monastery of Asomaton
Petraki, is dedicated to the Holy Archangels (Gabriel and
Michael). Asomaton means bodiless and invisible to our physical
eyes creations such as the angels and the archangels. According
to our Orthodox tradition angels have no bodily needs or
desires and passions, no cares about food, drink clothes
or shelter. They have no worries they neither marry nor
are given in marriage and no fear death. God created them
before man they neither aged for aging, but unchangingly
youthful, beautiful and strong being already immortal. The
appearance of angels is different purposely as to different
persons and occasions.
The interior of the church ‘’catholicon’’ of the monastery
is particularly interest because it is entirely decorated
with a wall paintings dated back to the 16th century. The
buildings themselves spared from fire and unfortunately
a remarkable part of the internal paintings were destroyed
including the wooden column used as a communication with
the roofed surface of the church.
Despite the gradual degradation suffered
by the area’s ecosystems, a thoroughly devised and well
organized campaign for the conservation and restoration
of the mountain’s natural beauty can halt further deterioration.
The mountain ‘’Ymmitos’’ or Hymettus’’ massif is endowed
with a unique biodiversity, which is amazingly rich despite
the mountain’s proximity to the city of Athens. The mountain’s
natural environment is well protected by a non-profit organization
named as ‘’Philodasiki Enosis Athinon’’ founded in 1899
in Athens. The main object of the organization is the reforestation
of fallow land, the encouragement of forest-lovers and the
protection of the natural environment. Philodassiki when
it was first established undertook the imitative of the
restoration of the hills in and around Athens. In 1945 the
late president of Philodassiki, Kaiti Argyropoulou, undertook
the initiative for the restoration of the around the Byzantine
monastery of Kaessariani.This resulted in the planting of
more that 3.000.000 trees within an area approximately 6.000.000
sq.m.Through Presintential Decree 91/1974 the whole area
was pronounced ‘’Aesthetic Forest’’ due to its distinctive
aesthetic and ecological importance. Following the refreshment
room (Kalopoula) we observe a memorial tablet dedicated
to the president of the organization, Kaiti kiriazi-Argiropoulou,
who first established the above non-profit organization.
‘’Moni Asteriou’’ is a historical monument presenting an
exceptional archaeological, historical, traditional and
artistic significance along with the theological one, pointing
out the perfect dedication to prayer and worship of God.
For this reason the preservation of the monument and the
whole natural environment must be encouraged and performed
in order to create an area of incomparable natural beauty
and spiritual tradition as well.
Our Lord and the Holy Archagels be with you.