Tonight – for Christmas – we’re going to take you to a place outside our world. It’s not Mars or Venus but it might as well be. It’s a remote peninsula in northern Greece that millions believe to be the most sacred spot on Earth. It’s called Mount Athos and prayers have been offered here every day, with no interruption, for more than a thousand years. It was set aside by ancient emperors to be the spiritual capitol of Orthodox Christianity and has probably changed less over the centuries than any other inhabited place on the planet.

The monks come here from all over and do everything they can to keep what they call “the world” far away. Not surprisingly, journalists are not exactly welcome. For more than two years, we corresponded, negotiated and, frankly, pleaded for an invitation but ran into one monastic wall after another. Then, as we first told you last spring, much to our surprise, and delight, the monks finally said, ‘Okay, come see who we are.’

This Byzantine cross marks the border between Mount Athos and the 21st century. The monks come here as they always have for the beauty, the tranquility, and the isolation.

Father Iakovos is one of a few Americans on the mountain. He’s been here more than half his life.

Father Iakavos: You have to understand, the words that we’re saying in today’s liturgy, are the same words that Christ was saying, are the same words that saints from the first century, the second century, the third century, the fourth century.

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