St Athanasius

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Abbot and founder. St Athanasius was born in Trebizond, Turkey, around 920 and studied at Constantinople.

He became a monk, at St Michael's Monastery in Kymina in the Bithynian Olympus and then migrated to Mount Athos in Greece, where he founded the 'great laura' or monastery there in 961, with the help of his friend Nicephoras Phocas, who later became emperor.

This was the start of the great monastic republic of Mount Athos, that thrives to this day. Athanasius and six other monks died in 1003, when a church roof collapsed.

By the time of his death there were 60 communities on the mountain. Throughout his life St Athanasius was offered many honours but refused them all. He was a great teacher of the early Eastern church.