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The Ecumenical Patriarch was declared Honorary Citizen of Ithaca

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during his official visit to the Holy Metropolis of Lefkada and Ithaca, traveled on Wednesday, 26 June 2024, by a Hellenic Coast Guard vessel to Ithaca.

Upon boarding the vessel, he was welcomed by the Chief of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Georgios Alexandrakis, and the serving officers and crew.

At the port of Vathy, Ithaca, he was greeted by the Regional Governor of the Ionian Islands, Ioannis Trepeklis, and the Mayor of Ithaca, Dionysios Stanitsas, in the presence of the neighbouring Metropolitan Dimitrios of Kefalonia, clergy, local government officials, and island residents.

Subsequently, in front of the Town Hall, the Mayor officially welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch to Ithaca, with the Patriarch expressing, in his response, his joy and emotion for his visit to the island of Odysseus.

Following this, at the Municipal Cultural Centre, the ceremony of declaring the Ecumenical Patriarch an honorary citizen of Ithaca took place.

In his speech, after the reading of the relevant decision of the Municipal Council by its President, Stefanos Fiampolis, the greetings from the local Metropolitan and the Regional Governor, and the address by the Mayor, the Patriarch noted, among other things:

“It is true, Mr. Mayor, that many cities have taken the initiative to honour the Ecumenical Patriarch with the title of Honorary Citizen. We have accepted this not out of personal vanity or vain glory. We believe that every honor bestowed upon our person automatically passes to the sacred institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which we represent, and to the spiritual Mother of us all, the Holy Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, to which we owe everything! We, therefore, accept this honour from the blessed Municipality of Ithaca and you with warm and heartfelt gratitude, and we inform you that as a “Thiakos” from now on, the Patriarch will have an additional reason to intensify his prayers for Ithaca and its beloved citizens, and to bestow wholehearted Patriarchal blessings and wishes upon all of you and your noble and patriotic endeavors!

We hope to have the joy of welcoming you as visitors from time to time to Constantinople and the Venerable Center of the Phanar, as devout pilgrims to our many and great holy sites there, both to reciprocate your love and for you to draw grace, strength, and light from the inexhaustible pious source of the Nation!”

Then the Ecumenical Patriarch made his way to the Church of Saint Raphael of Ithaca, where he was warmly welcomed by the local Metropolitan and the Archpriest of Ithaca, Protopresbyter Christodoulos Trilivas. The Patriarch responded appropriately.

At noon, he attended a lunch hosted in his honour by the Mayor of the island.

Before his departure from Ithaca for Lefkada, the Ecumenical Patriarch had a brief meeting in a cordial atmosphere with the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy, Christos Stylianidis, who was in the area.

On the evening of the same day, the Ecumenical Patriarch attended an official dinner hosted in his honour by the Regional Governor of the Ionian Islands.

On the afternoon of the previous day, Tuesday, June 25, the Ecumenical Patriarch went to the Church of the Pantocrator in the city of Lefkada, where after being briefed on its history, he conducted a Trisagion for the repose of the soul of the island’s distinguished son, poet Aristotelis Valaoritis, whose grave is in the churchyard.

Following this, he walked to the nearby “Angelos Sikelianos” Museum, where a local traditional music group welcomed him with Lefkadian songs. After a brief tour of the Museum, which was Sikelianos’ residence, the Patriarch and his esteemed entourage departed for the Open Theater of Lefkada, where they attended an event dedicated to Aristotelis Valaoritis.