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Ecumenical Patriarch Visits Thessaloniki and Mount Athos

BOSTON – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made an official visit to Thessaloniki and the Monastic Community of Mount Athos where he was received with reverence and honors.

Immediately after his arrival at Alexander the Great Airport of Chrysoupolis, Kavala, the Patriarch traveled to the Holy Monastery of the Ascension of the Savior, in the village of Taxiarches in the prefecture of Drama, where he offered a Trisagion Service at the grave of the late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama, champion of the rights of the Mother Church of Constantinople and a personal friend.

The late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama died suddenly on May 2, after an acute myocardial infarction, and at his request, he was buried in the Monastery of the Ascension of the Saviour in Taxiarches.

The procession of the historic holy icon ‘Axion Esti’ of the Theotokos with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Protaton of Mount Athos. (Photo by Ecumenical Patriarchate/Nikos Paparchristou)

The Ecumenical Patriarch, after the Trisagion, addressing the blessed Metropolitan in the first person, was visibly moved and unable to hold back his tears in many parts of his speech. He said, “I have come from the martyred Phanar, as a genuine friend of yours, from the Constantinople you loved. I came from where the heart of Pontus beats, of Eastern Thrace, of Cappadocia, of Asia Minor, of the Aegean that unites. Pavlos, people like you know how to live and die courageous, upright, unbowed to difficulties, unconstrained by the temptations of power. You had ideals and you expressed them with truth and love.”

In the afternoon, the Patriarch visited Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki at the Metropolitan’s home. He also me with the new U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis. The Patriarch recalled that the ambassador “comes from the beloved and successful Greek community of America.”

He also said, “we are glad because we are of the same Genos. When the news of the appointment came to Athens as an ambassador of the great American [federation] everyone at the Patriarchate was pleased, of course, everyone here in Greece.”

From the International Conference in Thessaloniki on the Thirty Years of Patriarchy of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. (Photo: Orthodox Church of Greece)

The Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his wish that during the Ambassador’s tenure in Greece that, “the already existing very good relations between Greece and America be improved and promoted even more for the good of the two countries, but also for stability and peace in the region here, in the Balkans, in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is located.” He said, “what is happening in our surroundings certainly has an impact on the life and activity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is why we wish for stability and peace and good and creative cooperation between Greece and Turkey and more broadly in this area, in this region of the world.”

The U.S. Ambassador underlined his admiration “for the knowledge, wisdom, kindness and advice” of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Ambassador has organized a reception in honor of the Patriarch this month in Athens.

The Patriarch attended an international conference organized by the School Theology of the University of Thessaloniki on the occasion of the completion of thirty years of his Patriarchy on the Ecumenical Throne.

He also attended the inauguration of an exhibition of photography dedicated to his native island of Imbros, hosted at the Monastery of Vlatadon on Mt. Athos, as well as the inauguration of the headquarters of the association ‘Byzantine World’, and bestowed upon Chrysostomos Stamoulis, Dean of the Theological School, the offikion [title] of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew liturgized at the Karakallou Monastery as a simple priest. (Photo by Fos Fanariou)

On his way to Mount Athos, the Patriarch visited Nea Tenedos and Nea Triglia, and the same afternoon arrived at the Athonite Monastic Community, where an official welcome took place in Karyes and then a Doxology at the Church of the Protaton.

During his stay on Mount Athos, the Patriarch visited successively the monasteries of Iviron, where he stayed the first night, the Karakallos Monastery, where he officiated the next day in the Liturgy as a priest in the Chapel of Portaitissa, and the monastery of Megisti Lavra, as well as the Athonite Ecclesiastical Academy. On Sunday morning he presided over the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Protaton. He also visited the Reorientation of the Esfigmenou Monastery.

On Sunday afternoon, May 29 on his way to Thessaloniki, he visited the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Metochion of the Annunciation in Ormylia, Halkidiki, where he offered a Trisagion Service at the grave of the late Abbot Emilianos of Simonopetra monastery.

He arrived at the Holy Metropolis of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, to which he made an official visit, and where he will stay until June 1, at the invitation of the Metropolitan Ioustinos of Nea Krini and Kalamaria.

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