Athos, that legendary Mount of monks near Chalkidike, where for more than 1000 years Byzantine and later Orthodox fellow Christians searched in isolation for the way to the lord; where in its peak moments in the 14th century 300 cloisters housed 40,000 monks; where to this day women are forbidden from entering and men require a personal visa – My friend needn't have asked twice.
On this half-island in the Aegean sea, the monk Panteleimon lives, even for such circumstances as are found in Athos, in particular isolation, in a kellion, a sort of outpost of the famous Serbian Cloister of Chelander that was badly damaged in a fire two years ago. Father Panteleimon grows his own vegetables, makes his own wine, crafts beeswax candles in winter and lives from the olives that are yielded from the groves, which have grown around his Kellion for centuries.
Despite their average venerable age, the 2,000 monks living in the 20 ancient monasteries have virtually no heart disease, no cardiac arrests and no strokes, a zero-incidence of Alzheimer’s disease which astonished the researchers conducting the various studies, and unusually low rates of cancer, which in the case of prostate cancer is 4 times lower than the international average. The latter finding is even more remarkable when you know that the monks in that particular investigation were aged between 50 and 104. Their rates of lung, bowel and bladder cancer are zero.
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