By Nikolaos Michailidis
"Even though we were a bit tired,
We gained beauty and flowers in our hearts,
And you, who were relaxing at home,
What was your profit, you poor?"
(A popular song sang by the pilgrims who were returning from the Monastery addressing those who failed to attend.)
As an anthropologist of the research team, my initial aim was to develop a network of acquaintances with people from the surrounding communities in order to establish a database with narratives regarding the relationships of the inhabitants of the Menoikeion with the holy community. So far I have been able to get in contact and establish a working communication with a number of individuals who contributed valuable information regarding the broader spiritual and social role of the monastery in the past and present times. My contacts have not remained bound to the Menoikeion area and the city of Serres but I have managed to expand them to the city of Thessaloniki where a number of the monastic community’s supporters and frequent visitors currently reside.
My research thus far enabled me to identify some key views and attitudes towards the monastery, the main one being nostalgia for its past glory and the expressed willingness to reestablish its spiritual fame and role in the broader county of Serres. Many contemporary inhabitants of the broader area continue to view the monastery as a holy community whose presence in their region not only provides them with spiritual support, but also with pride for their homeland, as well as with opportunities to expand the county’s fame around the country and attract Greek and foreign visitors. In my forthcoming presence at the Monastery I will continue building my network of informants with various individuals such as pilgrims, janitors, and archeologists and continue my interviewing and collection of narratives and other related information.