Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Athens with Metropolitan John Zizioulas

We arrived in Athens around 7:00 on Sunday evening, and stayed with Bishop Maxim's good friends, the famous iconographer Fr. Stamatis Skliris and his wife Marina.

Fr. Stamatis took us out for a very lovely dinner on a rooftop restaurant, with a view of the Acropolis (see second photo above).

It was really wonderful to get to know Fr. Stamatis. When they were younger, he and his wife spent a year living at the Monastery Celije in Serbia, with their spiritual father, Fr. Justin Popovich.

When they returned to Athens, they were blessed to know Elder Porphyrios. He was full of stories about his experiences with these holy men.

The top photo is of Fr. Stamatis' work area in his house, with an icon of St. John the Theologian on the stand. The photo immediately above is of a new icon of Christ, which he went to Paris on Monday to present in an exhibit.

On Monday, Fr. Stamatis and his wife left for Paris, where he was putting on an exhibit at the Serbian Cathedral to benefit Kosovo.

Bishop Maxim, meanwhile, was invited to Metropolitan John Zizioulas' house at 1:00, and I was allowed to tag along. We spoke with the Metropolitan at his house for nearly 2 hours, and I even got to ask him about my dissertation. His dissertation is perhaps the leading Orthodox work to date on leadership in the early Church, so I had a chance to ask him some questions I had about his work.

Finally, his assistant, George, came by, and Metropolitan John treated us all to lunch at a nearby restaurant. Here we got to talk to him about, among other things, the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Conference, starting June 6 in Geneva, at which he will serve as chairman. The conference will tackle many of the thorny issues regarding the Diaspora, so the conversation was of particular interest to us.

The photo immediately below is of Bishop Maxim and Metropolitan John as we walked to the restaurant. The photo at the very bottom was taken at the end of a very nice lunch.

At 5:00, we walked the Metropolitan back to his house. I took his blessing and then left to head back to Thessaloniki. With the newly completed national highways (and only a small amount of speeding), I made it back home to Thessaloniki actually in just under 5 hours -- completely exhausted but full of experiences.

For more photos of the whole weekend, click here.

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