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Ecumenical Patriarch blesses activities of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina and venerates at her historical monasteries

His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew  visited on Wednesday, July 13, in the morning, the Children’s Creative Activities Centre of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina and the Charity Organisation “APOSTOLI” of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, where he was welcomed with flowers and songs by the young children participating in the ongoing summer program of the Center.

Two young students welcomed the Patriarch on behalf of all the children, while Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina and the General Director of “APOSTOLIS”, Mr. Konstantinos Dimtsas, informed His All-Holiness about the actions of the Centre.

His All-Holiness, in his speech, congratulated the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina and “APOSTOLI” for their joint initiative, the teachers and workers at the Centre, but also all those who support this important effort, and, among other things, he pointed out:

“The Children’s Creative Activities Centre corresponds to the model of a modern school, where there is mutual trust and cooperation between teacher and student, and there is no authoritarian imposition, which, as a rule, pushes children to passivity in the learning process.  We would say that your Centre embodies the idea of the “school of the person”, where the pedagogical relationship feeds the development of the child’s personality and creativity.

We wish to emphasise, in an age where preoccupation with the past is often characterised as barren conservatism, that creativity is also about embracing the original elements of our tradition. Creative work is the knowledge of the values of Orthodoxy that are vital for our life and personality, values with universal scope. Pioneering is always built on the foundations of tradition.

The creative familiarisation of this valuable legacy not only, does it not lead to mistrust of the new, but is a condition of real progress. We understand, given the central role of the teacher in the educational process, how important it is for the teacher himself to have what has been called “traditional culture”, which releases within him invaluable powers of offering to the child”.

Afterwards, the Patriarch performed the Agiasmos for the inauguration of the new Museum of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina, which hosts many holy icons, gospels and other important ecclesiastical items and relics, representative of the contribution of the people of Ioannina to ecclesiastical life as well as to art. The opening was attended by the Minister of Culture of Greece, Lina Mendoni, the Mayor of Ioannina, Mr Moses Elisaf, members of parliament, and representatives of the Authorities.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina, in his speech, referred to the history of the building and the decision of the Metropolis to renovate it in order to use it as a place to preserve local history and tradition.

In His All-Holiness’ reply, also singling out this initiative of the Metropolis of Ioannina, noted:

“We take the occasion of this inauguration to point out that an ecclesiastical Museum is not characterised by a strict and unilateral attachment to the past, but it is, in its correct expression, a springboard for the local Province, so that it can move forward in the future on a sound spiritual and cultural basis.

The word “Museum”, however, brings to our thinking another important, as we think, parameter. The sacred duty of all of us clothed in the black tribune is the ministry, the sacrificial and exhausting ministry of the sacred affairs of God’s people, since each of us has been placed under Divine Providence.

This ministry to the God-man Jesus is seen in the eyes of many as in a type of museum and presents the Church – the victim of blasphemy – as a “Museum”. which preserves, for reasons of culture and history, only the past, in order to preserve it in every era. However, we wish to emphasise here that the Church of Christ is not a “Museum”, as a maintenance, as a simple presentation of exhibits and objects.

The Church constantly bears witness to and illustrates the greatness of the Resurrection. It is the musopolos (poet) of the Incarnate Economy, the evangelisation of the “person”, created in the image and likeness of God.

On the other hand, beyond the just described theological parameter, the establishment of a Museum, and more generally any work of culture and social well-being for the local Church, ensures its two-dimensional course, they not only ensured it in favor of purely spiritual affairs but also testified about the coming Grace and its contribution to civilisation and to its transformation in Christ”.

Then His All-Holiness visited the island of the lake of Ioannina, where he venerated  the Holy Monasteries of Philanthropines and Eleousa, and was informed, about their history and the hagiographies of their Katholikos, by the Head of the Ministry of Antiquities of Ioannina, Varvara Papadopoulou.

Trisagion for Karolos Papoulias

Afterwards, His All-Holiness made his way to the cemetery of the island, where the grave of the late President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias is located, whom the Patriarch knew for many years and highly valued, and performed a Trisagion memorial prayer for the repose of his soul. Present at the Trisagion was the wife of the late Karolos Papoulias, Mrs. Mai Papoulia, to whom His All0Holiness expressed his sympathy for the loss of her husband and a great Epirotian politician.

Patriarchal prayer at the martyrdom site of Saint George of Ioannina

Immediately after, His All-Holiness returned to the city of Ioannina and went to the area of Kourmanio, to the site of the martyrdom of Saint Georgios of Ioannina, where he was particularly moved and laid flowers and prayed on his knees for of the Great Church of Christ, which listed this popular saint in its canon of Saints, in 1839, just a year and a half after his martyrdom, as well as for of its Provinces and indeed of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina, of which he is the Patron Saint and protector.

Visit to the Jewish Synagogue of the Castle of Ioannina

His All-Holiness then visited the Jewish Synagogue of the Castle of Ioannina, where the Mayor of Ioannina and a member of the city’s Israeli Community informed him about its history. Particularly moving was Mr. Elisaf’s reference to the approximately 1800 members of the Community who lost their lives during the Holocaust, and whose names are inscribed on marble plaques hanging on the walls of the Synagogue.

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