His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America meets with the rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Mr. Nicholas Papaioannou. (Photo by AUT)
NEW YORK—On Friday, February 25, 2022, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece in order to inaugurate a special five-part pilgrimage series organized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in celebration of its one hundredth year. The first program of its kind — led by the Archbishop — hierarchs, clergy, and laity from the United States will have the unique opportunity to journey to various sacred sites. While each pilgrimage itinerary will be unique, all pilgrimages will carry the distinction of visiting the Mother Church in celebration and gratitude for the establishment of the Sacred Archdiocese of America by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the year 1922.
The inaugural pilgrimage, which spans twelve days (February 24 – March 7), commences in Thessaloniki, includes visits to Mount Athos and Thrace (Komotini and Maronia) and concludes in Constantinople. It will be marked by the conferral of an honorary doctorate upon Archbishop Elpidophoros by the Democritus University of Thrace.
The program will begin in Thessaloniki on Friday, February 25th where Archbishop Elpidophoros will lead pilgrims throughout the metropolitan area of Thessaloniki to experience its sacred sites. Additionally, the itinerary will include official visits with His Eminence Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki; Greece’s Deputy Minister of the Interior for Macedonia and Thrace, Mr. Stavros Kalafatis; the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas; the Consul General of the United States in Thessaloniki, Ms. Elizabeth Lee; the rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Mr. Nicholas Papaioannou; the rector of the University of Macedonia, Mr. Stylianos Katranidis; and other ecclesiastical and political dignitaries (February 24-27).
On Sunday, February 27th, the group will attend Divine Liturgy at the historic Church of Saint Demetrios the Myrhh-Streamer, celebrated by Archbishop Elpidophoros. A three-day journey to Mount Athos will follow where several of the Holy Mountain’s monasteries will be visited (February 27-March 1).
On Wednesday March 2nd, the group will arrive in Komotini where Archbishop Elpidophoros and his group will be received by the local hierarch, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Maronia. While in Komotini, the Archbishop will visit the headquarters of the Democritus University of Thrace to sign a memorandum of cooperation between the University and the Archdiocese for the establishment of academic programming in the United States for Greek language and Hellenic culture. An academic convocation will follow, recognizing Archbishop Elpidophoros as doctor honoris causa of the Greek Philology department.
On Thursday, March 3rd, a historic visit will be made to Maronia, the birthplace of His Eminence’s predecessor, Archbishop Michael (Konstantinides), the fourth Archbishop of North and South America (1892-1958). There, Archbishop Elpidophoros will join the town’s mayor, Mr. Konstantinos Charitopoulos in a dedication ceremony naming the town square in honor of the ever-memorable Archbishop Michael of North and South America.
The same day, the group will travel by bus to Constantinople, where they will remain until the conclusion of the trip on Monday, March 7th, at which time His Eminence will return to his see at the Archdiocesan headquarters in New York.
While in Constantinople, the Archbishop and the pilgrims accompanying him will be received at the Phanar by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for an audience with His All-Holiness where they will receive His Patriarchal blessings for the beginning of Holy and Great Lent. Finally, in keeping with the pilgrimage’s spirit of the centennial celebration, the group will express gratitude to the Mother Church on behalf of America’s hierarchy, clergy, and laity alike, for the establishment of the Sacred Archdiocese of America, 100 years ago.
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