The Saint George the Zograf Monastery or Zograf Monastery (Bulgarian: Зографски манастир; Greek: Μονή Ζωγράφου, Moní Zográphou) is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos (the "Holy Mountain") in Greece. It was founded in the late 9th or early 10th century by three Bulgarians from Ohrid and is regarded as the historical Bulgarian monastery on Mount Athos, and is traditionally inhabited by Bulgarian Orthodox monks.
The monastery is named after the 13th or 14th century icon of Saint George, known as Saint George the Zograf (Светѝ Гео̀рги Зогра̀ф). The name of the latter comes from the belief that the icon mysteriously painted itself on the prepared board (zograf(os) in Greek means "painter" (from zoe="life" and grafos="scribe").
The earliest written evidence of the monastery's existence dates from 980. During the Middle Ages, the monastery was generously supported by the Bulgarian rulers, such as Ivan Asen II and Ivan Alexander, since it was a matter of pride for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to maintain a monastery on Athos. The Zograf Monastery has also received land endowments by Byzantine (the first donor being Leo VI the Wise) and Serbian rulers.
The Zograf Monastery was plundered and burnt down by Crusaders, working under orders from the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, in 1275, resulting in the death of 26 monks. These included the igumen (abbot) Thomas, as well as the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Paul, Menas, Ioasaph, Ioanicius, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen. The reason for this attack was the opposition of the Athonite monks to the Union of Lyons, which the Emperor had supported for political reasons. Since the emperor could not attack the Greek monks without incurring the wrath of his own people, he vented his frustration on the Slavic monks. Having hanged the Protos (the elected president of Mount Athos), and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. Their martyrdom is commemorated annually on October 10 (October 23 on the Gregorian Calendar) throughout the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Mercenaries of the Catalan Grand Company raided the Holy Mountain for two years (1307–9), sacking many monasteries, plundering the treasures of Christendom, and terrorising the monks. Of the 300 monasteries on Athos at the beginning of the 14th century, only 35 were left by the end. But the monastery recovered quickly with the help of grants and support from the Palaeologue Emperors and the princes of the Danubian Principalities. The buildings were reconstructed in the late 13th century with the financial aid of Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. The monastery was also given numerous metochia (properties) in parts of Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and modern-day Turkey, but retains today only those in Greece.
The monastery exists in its modern appearance since the 16th century, while its present-day buildings date from the middle 18th century. The south wing was built in 1750, the east in 1758, the small church was erected in 1764 and the large one in 1801. The north and west wing are from the second half of the 19th century and large-scale construction ended in 1896 with the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church and the raising of the bell tower.
Among the numerous relics and other holy objects treasured at the monastery is the Wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos "Of the Akathist," the feast day of which is celebrated on October 10. Since Mount Athos uses the traditional Julian Calendar, the day they celebrate as October 10 currently falls on October 23 of the modern Gregorian Calendar. Today the Monastery has some 15 monks.
The Zograf Monastery owns a library of major significance to Bulgarian culture, preserving medieval manuscripts such as a 15th-century copy of the passional of Saint Naum of Ohrid, the 14th-century passional of Saint Paraskevi, the original draft of Paisius of Hilendar's Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya and the History of Zograf. The monastic library houses 388 manuscripts in Slavic and 126 in Greek, as well as about 10,000 printed books altogether. Two medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the Zograf Charter and the Rila Charter, have been discovered in the monastery's library.
- "Athos in the ancient Greek period" ([dead link] – Scholar search), The History of Mount Athos, Macedonian Heritage, 2000, retrieved 2007-10-24
- Bulgarian National Bank. Notes and Coins in Circulation: 2 levs (1999 issue) & 2 levs (2005 issue). – Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
- Coin Update News Zograf Monastery Silver Commemorative Coin
- Zograf Monastery at Pravoslavieto.com (in Bulgarian)
- Zograf Monastery at the Mount Athos website (in English)
- 26 Martyrs of the Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos at the hands of the Crusaders Orthodox icon and synaxarion.
- The Holy Martyrs of Zographou from The Prologue from Ohrid.