Athonite Academy
The Athonite or Athonias Academy is a Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 educational institution founded at 1749 in Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

, then in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and now in Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. The school offered high level education, where ancient philosophy and modern physical science were taught. With the establishment of the Athonite Academy the local monastic
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 community took a leading role in the modern Greek Enlightenment during the 18th century. It aroused the hostility of more conservative circles and was shut down in 1821, but reopened in 1842. The Academy's function was also suspended in 1916–1930 and 1940–1953 due to the World Wars.


The Athonias was founded in 1749 as a dependency of Vatopedi monastery with the initiative and the financial support of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Cyril V. The first building of the Athonias was erected on the top of a hill northeast of Vadopedi, where its imposing ruins still exist today. First director became the theologian Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis.

Modern Greek Enlightenment

In 1753, the Ecumenical Patriarchate entrusted Eugenios Voulgaris
Eugenios Voulgaris
Eugenios Voulgaris or Boulgaris or Vulgares was a Greek Orthodox educator, and bishop of Kherson . Writing copiously on theology, philosophy and the sciences, he disseminated western European thought throughout the Greek and eastern Christian world, and was a leading contributor to the Modern...

 with the renewal of ecclesiastical education because it considered that he possessed the best available talents and offered him the post of the Academy's director. The time when Voulgaris became director of the Athonias (1753-1759), the modern Greek Enlightenment movement was exerting a productive influence throughout the entire monastic community of Mount Athos. The teaching methods of Voulgaris for the revival and upgrading of learning within the Orthodox Church envisaged a substantial training in classic studies combined with an exposure to modern European philosophy, including works of René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

, Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, Christian Wolff
Christian Wolff (philosopher)
Christian Wolff was a German philosopher.He was the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant...

 and John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

. This curriculum could only be taught in a monastic environment for as long as Voulgaris enjoyed the full and unswerving support of the highest powers inside the church.

When Cyril V fell from the patriarchal throne conservative circles of Mount Athos were encouraged to come out openly against the progressive educational methods of Voulgaris. The later feeling adandoned resigned in 1758/9 and was replaced by Nikolaos Zerzoulis, who was known as one of the first proponents of Newtonian science in Greek education. However, by the end of the 18th century the rate of literacy in Mount Athos had declined and the traditional local circles became hostile towards the progressive teaching in the Athonias.

19th century-present

The Athonias was closed in 1821 when the Greek War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 broke out and reopenned in 1845 in Karyes
Karyes (Athos)
Karyes is a settlement in Mount Athos. It is the seat of the clerical and secular administration of the Athonite monastic state. The 2001 Greek census reported a population of 233 inhabitants...

, the administrative center of Mount Athos. It was financially supported by the monasteries and the monks of the region. The Academy's function was also suspended in 1916–1930 and 1940–1953 due to World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Notable graduates

  • Cosmas of Aetolia
  • Athanasius Parios
    Athanasius Parios
    Father Athanasios Parios was a Greek hieromonk who was a great and eminent theologian, philosopher, educator, and hymnographer of his time, and one of the "Teachers of the Nation" during the Modern Greek Enlightenment. He was the second leader of the Kollyvades movement, succeeding Neophytos...

  • Nicodemus the Hagiorite
  • Rigas Feraios
    Rigas Feraios
    Rigas Feraios or Rigas Velestinlis was a Greek writer and revolutionary of Aromanian origin, active in the Modern Greek Enlightenment, remembered as a Greek national hero, a victim of Balkan uprising against the Ottoman Empire and a forerunner of the Greek War of Independence.-Early...

  • Iosipos Moisiodax
  • Eulogios Kourilas
    Bishop Eulogios (Kourilas) of Korçë
    Eulogios Kourilas Lauriotis or Evlogji Kurila was the Orthodox bishop of Korçë in Albania between 1937 and 1939, and a professor of philosophy and author on religious matters.-Life:...

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