Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was proclaimed an honorary citizen of the municipality of Thermaikos in Thessaloniki at a special ceremony on Tuesday at the municipal premises of Neoi Epivates, reported The Orthodox Times.
According to the media report, Patriarch Bartholomew made an extensive reference to St. Paraskevi Epivatini, the ancestor of the current inhabitants of Neoi Epivates – whose skeleton is now in Iasi of Romania and is venerated by thousands, stressing that it had been granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenios I in 1641 through the mediation of a ruler of Danubian Principalities, because he had benefited the Patriarchate. And on the occasion of this narrative, he made reference to another historical meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the past with the Russian Church.
“The Church of Constantinople was always poor. You remember from history that my predecessor (Ecumenical Patriarch) Jeremiah went to Moscow (1588) to raise funds for the Patriarchate and was detained there by the Tsar and other officials of the Russian state and was not allowed to return to his seat until he gave the Patriarchal Merit to the Metropolitan of Moscow. It was a kind of…pious blackmail. And since then the problems between us and those of our brothers have not ceased.”
“We recognize you as the First of Orthodoxy. First in honor and first on the Cross. For more than thirty years, God’s blessing, you have had the historical responsibility of the continuity of the most important institution of Romanity,” said the Mayor of Thermaikos, George Tsamaslis, addressing Patriarch Bartholomew, and after referring to the rich ecclesiastical, pastoral, charitable, social and environmental work of the Ecumenical Patriarch, he added: “For a very large number of citizens of our land, you are the irresistible successor of the patriarchs, whom our parents knew in our unforgettable places of origin”. The distinction was awarded by decision of the municipal council, following a proposal by Mayor George Tsamaslis.
Following the ceremony, the Ecumenical Patriarch visited the rural region of Epanomi and held a memorial service at the recently renovated well of St. Argyrios, protector of Epanomi, which his parents had built in memory of the new martyr. The Patriarch also laid the last marble slab and then planted a plane tree, so that 'future pilgrims can cool off under its shade'.[Orthodox Times]