Visit of the I.A.O. Delegation on Mount Athos, 25-27 November 2022
A delegation of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) headed by the I.A.O. Secretary General Dr. Maximos Charakopoulos, held an official visit to Mount Athos, 25-27th November 2022. The composition of the I.A.O. delegation: Dr. Andreas Michailidis, Mr. Stavros Keletsis, Mr. Ioannis Sarakiotis, Mr. Panikos Leonidou, Mr. Eugeniusz Chykwin, Mr. Ioan Vulpescu, Mr. Mile Talevski and the I.A.O. Advisor Dr. Kostas Mygdalis. The I.A.O. delegation accompanied by the deputy governor of Mount Athos, Mr. Aristos Kasmiroglou, visited Karyes, the capital of the Athonian State of Mount Athos, where they were guided to the Protato (the oldest church in Mount Athos- also known as the Dormition of the Theotokos Church), venerating the icon of the Theotokos Axion estin (“It is truly meet”). They had the traditional offering at the Holy Community and warm welcome by the Head of the Holy Superintendency of Mount Athos, Elder fr. Christophoros from the Holy Monastery of Iviron. The Holy Superintendency consists of the Supervisory Committee: Fr. Theophilos from the Monastery of Pantokrator, Fr. Ieronymos from the Monastery of Simonos Petra and Fr. Nikiforos from the Monastery of Filotheos. During his address at the Holy Superintendency the I.A.O. Secretary General said inter-alia: “It is with particular pleasure, emotion and reverence, that we visit the Garden of Virgin Mary, in this unique place, where for more than 1000 years the Orthodox testament exists. (…). Mount Athos has a special, symbolic value, as it is a place of unity for the Orthodox peoples…As humble pilgrims we come, seeking from the Patroness of Mount Athos, Virgin Mary, her intercession for peace throughout the world and above all pacification in the old continent, here in our wider neighborhood, where a bloody war rages, unfortunately, between two Orthodox peoples, in two countries which are also members of the I.A.O. namely, Russia and Ukraine”. The I.A.O. Secretary General pointed out that “Mount Athos, in its more than a thousand-year course of history, with Orthodoxy as a point of reference, contributed decisively to the preservation of the national identity of the Orthodox Balkans, during the many centuries of long Ottoman slavery. To this end, last year, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary since the commencement of the Greek Revolution, we undertook an initiative and published a volume dedicated to Mount Athos and its influence during the years of the Ottoman occupation until its liberation in 1912. Mount Athos, is in Greek territory and under the spiritual jurisdiction of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, we must not forget that it is self-governing, a feature we respect as Greek state, and of course is respected by the European Union as well”. In Karyes, the I.A.O. delegation visited the Holy Monastery of Esfigmenou, where they were welcomed by its representative Elder Hieromonk Fr. Gabriel. They also visited the Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra, where they were received by Father Superior, Elder Fr. Prodromos, venerating the tomb of Saint Athanasios the Athonite, founder of the Monastery. They also visited the Holy Skete of Prodromos, where Romanian monks live, and they were welcomed by the righteous Fr Athanasios. Finally, the delegation was received at the Holy Monastery of Philotheou by the Father Superior Fr Nikodimus, and was informed about the history of the monastery.