The Kollyvades (Greek: Κολλυβάδες) were the members of a movement in Eastern Orthodoxy that began in the second half of the eighteenth century among the monastic community of Mount Athos, which was concerned with the restoration of traditional practices and opposition to unwarranted innovations, and which turned unexpectedly into a movement of spiritual regeneration. As Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia succinctly points out:
throughout the Turkish period the traditions of Hesychasm remained alive, particularly on Mount Athos. Here during the second half of the eighteenth century there arose an important movement of spiritual renewal, whose effects can still be felt today. Its members, known as the Kollyvades, were alarmed at the way in which all too many of their fellow Greeks were falling under the influence of the Western Enlightenment. The Kollyvades were convinced that a regeneration of the Greek nation would come, not through embracing the secular ideas fashionable in the west, but only through a return to the true roots of Orthodox Christianity – through a rediscovery of Patristic theology and Orthodox liturgical life. In particular, they advocated frequent communion – if possible, daily – although at this time most Orthodox communicated only three or four times a year. For this the Kollyvades were fiercely attacked on the Holy Mountain and elsewhere.
The movement derived its name from the Kollyva (boiled wheat) which is used during memorial services. Its proponents were Athonite monks who adhered strictly to Holy Tradition, and insisted that memorial services should not be performed on Sundays, because that is the day of the Lord's Resurrection, but rather on Saturday, the usual day for the commemoration of the dead. They were also in favor of frequent reception of Holy Communion, and practiced unceasing prayer of the heart.
The terms “Kollyvades”, “Kollyvistai”, and “Sabbatianoi” were epithets which were originally meant sarcastically as bitter insults, however over the passage of time these contemptuous appellations became a title or badge of honor. The leaders of the movement were Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis (1713-1784),[note 1] Saint Makarios (Notaras) of Corinth (1731-1805), Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1749-1809), and Saint Athanasios Parios (1722-1813).
Commemorations of the dead
The movement arose in 1754 out of a dispute within the Skete of St. Anne at Mount Athos when a group of monks objected to the scheduling of the commemoration of the dead on Sunday, the day that represented the Resurrection and Christ's victory over death, instead of Saturday or weekdays as it had been according to ancient custom. Other monks held that the commemoration of the dead has a Resurrection theme in every Liturgical celebration. While much animosity developed between the groups, the movement of the Kollyvades, as they became known, became part of an attempt to address deficiencies in spiritual life that had arisen in the Church since Byzantine times.
The first response from Constantinople to the issue of Sunday commemorations of the dead came in the form of a letter from Patriarch Theodosios II in 1772, wherein he stated that those who performed Saturday memorials did so appropriately in conformity with ancient tradition, whereas those who performed them on Sundays “ouch hypokeintai krimati” (do not sin).
This attempt at reconciliation having failed, the Patriarch’s successor, Samuel I Chatzeres (1773–1774), issued a Synodal Encyclical (1773) directing all monastics to adhere to the policies enacted by their monasteries and avoid strife over the issue of commemorations. Once more, this tactic, also in the spirit of compromise and aimed at a reconciliation of the two factions, failed.
Therefore, a Synod was convened in 1774 at the Koutloumousiou Monastery, on Mount Athos, at the order of the Oecumenical Patriarch. It was composed of two former Patriarchs of Constantinople, four retired Metropolitans, two active Metropolitans, and two Bishops from Thessaloniki. There were also about two hundred monks present at the convocation. The Synod declared that all of those who did not accept the Synodal Encyclical of 1773 were subject to anathema. Despite this determination, the controversy went on.
Thus, in 1776, yet another Synod was convened in Constantinople, under Patriarch Sophronios II, at which the Patriarch of Jerusalem and sixteen other hierarchs were also present. It was declared by the participants that memorial services could be celebrated on either Saturday or Sunday, and that the issue was not to be discussed further. It was at this Synod that St. Athanasios Parios, Neophytos Kavsokalyvites, and St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, among others, were excommunicated. These individuals were of course subsequently vindicated.
In addition to the issue of following proper ritualistic traditions, there was a concern for return to a Eucharistic-centered spirituality and to the precepts preached by the Hesychasts of the fourteenth century. The Kollyvades movement strove for a rediscovery of Patristic theology and a liturgical life that included frequent communion. The movement came under assault by many at Mount Athos and elsewhere, attacks that became, at times, vicious and beyond what one would expect from monastics and clergy of any rank.
- St. Kosmas Aitolos († 1779), who traveled throughout Greece trying to return the peasants to their faith, and preached frequent communion.
- Neophytos Kavsokalyvites († 1784), who preached throughout the Balkans and reposed in Romania.
- St. Paisios Velitchovsky († 1794), who published the Slavonic version of the Philokalia, which greatly influenced the Optina Elders.
- St. Makarios (Notaras) of Corinth († 1805), author of “On Frequent Communion.”
- St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain († 1809), author of the “Evergetinos,” “Philokalia,” “The Rudder,” “Christoethia,” the “Synaxarion,” and “On Frequent Communion.”
- St. Athanasios Parios († 1813), author of several works against the Western Enlightenment movement within Greece, and in favor of frequent communion.
- St. Nicephorus of Chios († 1821), disciple and biographer of St. Athanasius of Paros.
- St. Arsenios of Paros († 1877), who preached frequent communion and was also a schoolteacher, and the spiritual father of St. Nectarios of Aegina.
- Bessarion of Rapsane († 1801).
- Theodoretos of Ioannina († 1823), a monk of the Skete of St. Anne, where the Kollyvades movement first began.
- Neophytos Kavsokalyvites († 1784) was a Peloponnesian of Jewish ancestry, who was belligerent in criticizing those whom he considered un-Orthodox in their views. He was a monk of admirable virtue and immense learning, even if his conservatism provoked strong opposition and eventually led to his departure from the Holy Mountain.
- "In 1819, Patriarch Gregory V wrote to the monks of the Holy Mountain declaring that Communion should not be received at certain set times, but whenever one felt himself ready for it, following confession and other necessary preparation."
- Timothy Ware. The Orthodox Church. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. pp. 99–100.
- The Kollyvades Movement and the Advocacy of Frequent Communion. In: Hieromonk Patapios and Archbishop Chrysostomos. Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frequent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. Vol. II in the Byzantine and Neohellenic Studies series. Ed. Rev. Professor Andrew Louth and Professor David Ricks. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006.
- Fr. Harry Linsinbigler. On the Church’s Guidelines for Holy Communion. Modified from several issues of the Ukrainian Orthodox Word. 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- Constantine Cavarnos, Athanasios Parios. St. Macarios of Corinth: Archbishop of Corinth...an account of his life, character, and message, together with selections from three of his publications. Volume 2 of Modern Orthodox saints. Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1977. p.21.
- Great Synaxaristes (Greek): Ὁ Ὅσιος Νικηφόρος ἐκ Χίου. 1 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
- Great Synaxaristes (Greek): Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀρσένιος ὁ ἐν Πάρῳ. 31 Ιανουαρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
- (Greek) Charilaos S. Tzogas. Η περί μνημοσύνων έρις εν Αγίω Όρει κατά τον ΙΗ΄αιώνα. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1969.
- The Kollyvades Movement and the Advocacy of Frequent Communion. In: Hieromonk Patapios and Archbishop Chrysostomos. Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frequent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. Vol. II in the Byzantine and Neohellenic Studies series. Ed. Rev. Professor Andrew Louth and Professor David Ricks. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006. 187 pp. ISBN 3-03910-722-4
- Christos Yannaras. The Kollyvades Movement and the Spiritual Regeneration of Orthodoxy. In: Orthodoxy and the West. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006. pp.115-117.
- St Athanasius Parios. Commemorated on June 24. OCA - Feasts and Saints.
- Saint Nicodemus (the Hagiorite). Concerning Frequent Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries of Christ. Transl. George Dokos. Uncut Mountain Press, 2006. ISBN 9789608677852
- Hieromonk Patapios, Archimandrite Chrysostomos. Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frequent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth And Early Nineteenth Centuries. Volume 2 of Byzantine and Neohellenic Studies, ISSN 1661-1187. Peter Lang, 2006. ISBN 9783039107223
- Dr. Marcus Plested. Review: Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frequent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries, Hieromonk Patapios and Archbishop Chrysostomos. The Friends of Mount Athos Book Reviews, 2006.
- The Synaxis of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers. Full of Grace and Truth Blogspot. Friday, April 24, 2009.
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