Friday, September 11, 2009

Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Gr. Joyce in Thessaloniki

On Wednesday, I took Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Grandma Joyce to see some things in downtown Thessaloniki. After parking at the university, the first stop on our foot tour was the Rotunda, also known as St. George's. Above you can see Grandma Joyce and, above her, some of the ancient church decoration, featuring peacocks and a simple unadorned cross. Below you see Pres. Makrina and Symeon standing in the middle of the church. Although not a regular parish, Divine Liturgy is celebrated here once a month or so, just as it was 1700 years ago.

After settling Grandma Joyce at a cafe to rest, Pres. Makrina, Symeon and I continued the tour, stopping at Agia Sophia (above). It was here that St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, preached his sermons on the uncreated energies of God.

The next stop was the Catacombs of St. John the Baptist (see photo above), just next to Agia Sophia. Click on the link for the full story from my visit with Anastasia last month.

After visiting the catacombs where the Christians worshiped in secret in the first century, we walked down toward the sea to see the much more modern current cathedral of Thessaloniki, which is dedicated to and houses the relics of St. Gregory Palamas. In the photo above, you can see the cathedral across the street.

Here Pres. Makrina and Symeon are coming out of the cathedral after venerating the relics of St. Gregory Palamas.

After the cathedral, we headed to Panagia Acheiropoietos, one of the three oldest churches in Greece (built in the middle of the 5th century), where our spiritual father serves as the proistamenos. We were fortunate to catch him and have a Greek coffee with him before heading back to rendezvous with Grandma Joyce. We then headed back to the university, where I had to do some paperwork. Above you can see the Theological School in the background.

On the way home, we went for a traditional Greek fasting lunch at Samarakia, a favorite restaurant of locals in Pylea. We had, among other things, grilled octopus, fried calamari, mussels with rice pilaf, and eggplant salad.

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