This Past Week in History: February 24th to March 2nd

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

February 26th:

On this day in 1906, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas (Nikos Ghika), the Greek artist, writer, and academic, was born in Athens. During Ghikas’ teen years, his family began recognizing the potential of his talents and arranged for him to study painting with the artist Parthenis. In 1923, he went to Paris to study French literature and aesthetics at the Sorbonne. He also studied ancient and Byzantine art as well as folk art – partially due to this adoration for the Greek landscape. Less than four years after arriving in Paris, he had his first exhibition at the Gallerie Percier. It has been said that Picasso himself noticed and commented on the works of the young Greek artist. He gained recognition as the leading Greek cubist. Ghika was a founding member of the Association of Greek Art Critics, AICA-Hellas, and the International Association of Art Critics. Today, Ghikas is celebrated as one of the most important modern Greek painters. His house has been converted into a museum and is being run by the Benaki Museum. In 2018, the British Museum hosted an exhibition which focused on the friendship of Ghika with artist John Craxton and the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. It is said that their shared love of Greece was fundamental to their work. His works are featured in the National Gallery of Greece, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

February 28th:

On this day in 2013, Nicos Anastasiades was sworn in as the 7th President of the Republic of Cyprus. Anastasiades is a native of the village of Pera Pedi near Limassol.  He studied law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He then studied maritime law at the University of London, and afterwards returned to Cyprus where he opened a law firm specializing in commercial law in 1972. In 1976, he entered politics as a founding member of Democratic Rally, a Christian democratic party, and served as the secretary of the party’s youth wing in the Limassol district. About five years later Anastasiades was elected to the first of his six terms in the Cypriot House of Representatives (he served for more than three decades in the Cypriot Parliament). Advancing through the ranks of the Democratic Rally, he became the party’s president in 1997. In March 2012, Anastasiades was nominated as a candidate for the 2013 presidential election against his political rival, Eleni Theocharous. He received the nomination and went on to beat Stavros Malas in the second round of the presidential election by receiving almost 58% of the vote.

March 2nd:

On this day in 1928, John Savvas Romanides, the Orthodox Christian priest, author, and professor, was born in Piraeus, Greece. His parents emigrated to the United States when he was only two months old. He grew up in Manhattan and graduated from Hellenic College in Brookline, MA. He then studied at Yale University Divinity School while he served at Holy Trinity Church in Waterbury, CT. He went on to receive his PhD from the University of Athens. For nearly 10 years, Romanides was Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline while he continued his studies and research at the Harvard Divinity School. In 1959, he was appointed priest of the Church of St. Athanasios the Great in Arlington, MA, which he helped found and organize. Several years later, he resigned from Holy Cross in protest over the removal of Father Georges Florovsky from the faculty by Archbishop Iakovos. In 1968, he was appointed as tenured Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Thessaloniki, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. He represented the Church of Greece as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and in the dialogues with the Lutherans, and with the Oriental Orthodox. Romanides passed away on November 1, 2001.