During its long historical past the Great Holy Vatopedi Monastery has proved to have played a double role in its spiritual activities. It pursued both a hesychastic life and freedom from worldly care, that are the basics to achieve theosis, and it also sent its saintly children out on missionary work to be the living examples of the Orthodox Athonian Tradition and thus support the people of God, something not alien in the life of the Church through the centuries. We can here say that it excelled in this role so much that the lot of missionary work fell on it not only within Greece but out of it too.
St. Maxim Vatopedinos, known as “St. Maxim the Greek”, was one of the most erudite monks , who stood out as a theologian, philosopher and poet during the first half of the 16th century, and became known as “the illuminator of the Russian people.
He was born in Arta, a town in the northwest of Greece in 1470. He came from a well-to-do, illustrious and God-fearing family, and his name was Michael Trivolis. His parents sent him to school in Arta and then to Corfu. At the age of twenty he went to Italy, where he studied at the universities of Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Florence and Milan for fifteen years. E. Golubinski, one of the most reputable of St. Maxim’ biographers, states that if he had decided to stay on in Italy, he would have become one of the most eminent professors at any one of those universities at the time.