Pantocrator’s monastery is built by the sea, on the eastern side of Mount Athos and is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord.
The catholicon, this is the central church, is an example of athonite architecture with 14th c. frescoes. The monastery has fifteen chapels with the Dormition of the Theotokos being the most significant. Among the cells of the monastery, the most distinguished are the Staff bearer’s or Ravdouchou located in Karyes, dating probably from the 10th century, and the Dormition of the Theotokos, also named “Axion Esti”, where the eponymous miraculous icon found in Mount Athos’ capital, Karyes, came from. Prophet Elijah’s skete also belongs to the monastery.
Its founders were two byzantine dignitaries, Alexios and Johannes, who in the middle 14th century became monks in a cell that with emperor John V Palaeologus’s help transformed into a monastery. After the Fall of Constantinople, it was financially supported by princes of the Danubian principalities.
The monastery has a large collection of portable icons, sacred vessels and relics, while in its library 350 manuscripts and over 3,500 books are kept. A fraternity of 25 monks lives in Pantocrator’s.
Theotokos Gerontissa’s holy icon
The holy icon of Theotokos “Gerontissa” (Abbess) is the main icon of the monastery. The tradition says that it is a gift from the byzantine emperor Alexios I Comnenus.
The icon is a reproduction of the mosaic icon of Theotokos “Gorgoepecoos” (Quickly-listening), which was located in Pantocrator’s monastery in Constantinople, built by the same emperor. This icon is the only portable icon, depicting Theotokos full-length and in a praying posture. Her image is pleasant, mellow and merciful, giving the pilgrim a sense of joy, gleefulness, rejoicing, hope, comfort and compassion. Theotokos’s image on this icon indicates that she comes to her children’s assistance and always consoles them.