A sacred grove of olive trees has been producing fruit for more than a thousand years at the St. Xenophon Monastery on Mt. Athos in northern Greece, a monastic community where life has remained untouched for centuries.
It’s no wonder these olive trees are revered, given the profound bond between Orthodox Christianity and the oil these trees produces.
Perhaps no other natural product, except maybe wine, is more interwoven with the daily life of the monks in the monastic communities on Mt. Athos, particularly in their everyday diets.
They also use it to fill their kandylia (or candles) that lead their pathway through the darkness on their way to the various churches and chapels which themselves are lit by oil-burning candles.
Perhaps most importantly to them, olive oil is used in various ceremonies and services, to anoint or bless, during baby’s baptisms or in Holy Unction.
One of the most glorious examples of this tradition of olive oil production is Saint Xenophon’s Monastery.
There, this astonishing millennium-old olive grove is preserved. Monumental relic trees, which produce olives of exceptional quality to this day, radiate both the hard work and the spirituality; their enormous trunks eloquently show every century of the life of the trees, living proof of a unique ancient heritage.
The olive grove extends along the coastline, beautifully adjusted to the relief of the landscape that reaches an altitude of 180 meters above the sea level. On the steep slopes of up to 60% inclination, scenic terraces built stone by stone have been securing the growing of the olive trees for centuries allowing their roots to penetrate deep in the ground.
The pure nature of this unfrequented piece of land with the astonishing native biodiversity creates the most perfect, colorful surroundings for this majestic olive grove; a breathtaking, wondrous site between the deep blue sea and the azure sky.
Thanks to 2,800 hours of sunshine per year — with an average of eight hours per day — the olive trees are bathed in the bright light of the Aegean Sea, while mastering the interplay of mountain and sea breeze uphill.
Every single bottle of extra virgin olive oil produced by these monks is special and unique, created with deep spirituality at a place where human and nature live in perfect balance; where every olive imprints all those special elements and transforms into a most valuable, exquisite olive oil.