By Matthew Milliner
As we in Princeton pack our bags to head to Mount Menoikeion for the 2010 Seminar, which starts in less than a week, a piece of Mount Menoikeion is itself being packed up in Princeton to head back to Greece as well. For the last several months, Princeton has hosted the Architecture as Icon exhibition, where the first piece on display was a beautiful reliquary (kivotion) in the form of a domed church. The reliquary dates to 1613, and is in the form of the main dome of the katholikon of the Prodromos Monastery (depicted to the left). The dome we saw as part of an exhibition will soon be right outside our bedroom windows!
As the catalog explains, this reliquary (on loan from the Benaki Museum in Athens) was made by a nobleman named Demetrios in 1613, who both donated sacred vessels to the monastery, and sponsored the construction of a monastery infirmary. But this level of involvement was not sufficient for Demetrios, and he soon withdrew to Mount Menoikeion to become a monk himself, taking the monastic name David.
Perhaps there is a distant similarity between Demetrios’ seventeenth century experience at Menoikeion and our own in the twenty-first century. Demetrios went from an initial involvement (financial gifts) to a deeper engagement (taking up residence at the monastery). We are, of course, researchers, not monks or nuns. But like Demetrios, we too are going from initial involvement (seeing a depiction of the monastery in an exhibition) to a deeper engagement (inhabiting the monastery itself).
Stay tuned for live updates from the Mount Menoikeion!