The voice of Orthodoxy is heard loudly in Kastellorizo. A priest has been living on the island for 73 years and resists Turkish provocation. He shows Sputnik Hellas the great hagiography on the mountain, with a Greek and a Byzantine flag, and the ringing of the Russian bell on the island.
“You make friends with a Turk, keep a stick”: With this proverb the priest of Kastellorizo, Father Georgios Maltezos, sends a message of constant vigilance against the provocation of Turkey.
“Orthodoxy means love and with it we must treat all well. But this does not mean that we should not be constantly on the lookout for our neighbors’ movements. The Turkish people are not insidious, but their rulers, are” said Father Maltezos in speaking with Sputnik Hellas.
“The Turks will retreat at some point and then return. We are bored. Let us show that we do not fit with it. When we are measured, Turkey will see what will happen,” he added.
His view is that it is best not for confrontations, but it can be inevitable.
“Turkey cannot violate our maritime and airspace. We have full confidence in the armed forces that are ready for anything,” he said.
The hagiography on the rock of Kastellorizo
Wanting to send a message against Turkish provocations and to remind the Greekness of the island and its Orthodox values, the priest became the person in charge of implementing a rock painting.
His idea resulted in the creation of a special hagiography that for some time now adorns a rock of Kastellorizo. It depicts the Virgin Mary with the Greek and Byzantine flag on either side of her.
The priest has lived on the island for 73 years and has been ordained for the last 50.
“Kastellorizo has been fighting the Turks for decades, since the time of the Greek Revolution. Italians, French, English, Turks passed. They destroyed our ancestors, burned the houses, but we stood on our own two feet. So we do not feel fear,” he said.
“When I finished my military service, I decided that I would stay permanently on the island and do everything to support it. This and its inhabitants. In the past, the island had neither electricity nor water. I had the opportunity to live in the community of Kastellorizians in Australia with much better conditions, as well as in other places. If time went back I would remain faithful to my choice,” he added,
The Russian bell in Kastellorizo
Having Cyrillic characters on it – Ecclesiastical Slavonic – which is the language of the Russian Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition, is one of the living examples of Greek-Russian relations on the island.
Two monks brought it in 1922, the priest tells us.
There are strong stories in the ecclesiastical tradition of Kastellorizo .
As he explained to Sputnik Hellas, the tradition states that Saint Anthimos passed through the island as he was coming from the Holy Land. He found the island in complete desolation and asked God to send water. Then, according to the church tradition, heavy rain broke out and the island was filled with water resources.
With six children and 19 grandchildren, Father George feels happy.
The children are proud to have a father in Kastellorizo who is on duty.
His grandchildren do not all live on the island. They are scattered on other islands such as Rhodes and Nisyros.
In his free time, Father George goes out on his boat and fishes.
“We wish that these waters are always Greek and above all that the people of our island remain healthy. The island takes another turn and wants new people to act. I have done everything in my power, but now a struggle must be waged by the next generation,” he concluded.
Lambros Zacharis is a correspondent for Sputnik Hellas.