Holy Mountain: Saint Efraim welcomes us in festal attire.
‘Transport’ waiting patiently for us at the landing-stage.
‘No talking in the ranks’.
The bell announcing our arrival has already been ringing for some time.
The Athonites have a special way of tying goods to ensure they stay flat on the mules.
The elder makes sure the mules also get a treat.
The paved slope leading up to the kelli.
Final check: everything’s ready.
Elder Efraim’s sitting-room.
A deferential encounter with the Elder.
The stone staircase leading out of the kelli.
Gathering his thoughts before the service.
The bed where the Elder used to sleep.
Then as now, everything in its place.
The Elder wearing the knitted, woolen hat often favoured by ascetics.
A photograph of Elder Iosif the Hesychast adorns the sparsely-furnished cell.
A window overlooking the sea.
Beautifully-executed icons adorn the dome of the chapel.
Before the start of Vespers of the feast.
For the moment, there’s enough natural light to read by.
Saint Efraim, in his monastic habit, prays with us.
‘Gladsome light’.
The elder praying in the reception room.
Laymen are also invited to play a part in the service.
Night falls, taking us deeper into the service.
Venerating the holy relics.
Many of the kellia on the Mountain have post-Byzantine icons, often, though not here, gifts from Russia in the 19th century.
Helping to prepare the festal table.