Fed up with honking horns, busy roads and dreaded traffic? We all need some peace and quiet in our lives, but rarely do we venture to these rocky extremes
A 59-year-old monk has taken his devotion to peace to new heights – literally.
In an isolated region of the Caucasus, Georgian monk Maxime Qavtaradze proves there ain’t no mountain high enough by spending his days in silence atop a 40-metre pillar of limestone.
Maxime is dedicated to following the ancient traditions of the Stylites, or Pillar Saints: men of the Byzantine world who believed residing up pillars would remove them from temptation and provide ample opportunity for prayer and contemplation.
At first, life on the Katskhi Pillar was tough for the peace-loving monk.
‘For the first two years there was nothing up here so I slept in an old fridge to protect me from the weather.’
Later Christian supporters renovated a derelict chapel and built a cottage to provide him with a few creature comforts.
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It now takes Maxime around 20 minutes to ascend the metal ladder and, he says, once he is too old to climb he will remain at the top of the pillar until he dies.
If you’d like to escape the woes of life, you can come to stay and ask for guidance from Maxime and the young priests who live at the site, as long as you join the priests in praying for around seven hours a day, including from 2am-sunrise, and help with chores.
‘It’s up here in the silence that you can feel God’s presence,’ says Maxime. ‘When I was young I drank, sold drugs, everything. When I ended up in prison I knew it was time for a change.’
Modern life is becoming increasingly stressful. But if
we learn to to spend time in silence, the effects on our mental
wellbeing and physical health can be profound.
So, if you’re not getting along with the neighbours, a house on a pillar may leave you feeling on top of the world…
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