Greeting by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch DIMITRIOS upon his arrival at Patmos
[7th phase of his sacred journey to the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Patmos] (September 24-28, 1988)
We have listened with deep emotion to the kind words, which Your Excellency was pleased to address toward our Modesty upon our arrival to this sacred island of Patmos. Your presence during this great and historical anniversary of the sacred island of Patmos, which belongs to the spiritual and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, constitutes an eloquent witness of the honor with which Your Excellency and the honorable Greek Government embraces the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as of the significance which you attribute to the event celebrated so festively during these days. For both these things, we express our warm gratitude to you and to the Government of Greece, which you represent.
This island, for which divine providence has reserved the most supreme privilege of being consecrated by the presence of the great and glorious Apostle, John the Evangelist, the author of the sacred book of Revelation, as well as by the presence of our holy father among the saints, Christodoulos, founder of this historical monastery, as well as by that of numerous other saints, who through their ascetic and saintly lives sanctified this region. Politically, the island belongs to the jurisdiction and administrative care, the responsibility and protection of the Greek State, which rightly and necessarily takes pride in this great privilege, as revealed by the fact that the Greek State has declared this island to be a “sacred island” of the land of Greece. We regard this act by the Greek State to be supremely and abundantly significant inasmuch as not only does it prove the traditional respect of the noble and faithful Greek people as well as the faithfulness of the Greek Governments through the years, but it also underlines the fact that, during a time of a rapid secularization of everything, Greece and its State know how to allow room for the sacred, respecting and appropriately honoring the sacred heritage of the past, and protecting this by State laws. Therefore, inasmuch as this island has become sacred for the Greek State itself, it has also become a symbol of sacredness for the entire country of Greece, enabling it to continue smoothly its spiritual radiance across the entire world.
This sacred character of the island stems from the presence here of the Evangelist of love, rendering it a sacred symbol also of love and friendship for the whole world, but especially for this particular geographical region. This sacred island constantly radiates, particularly today, the message that all people, and most of all those who inhabit this region, are obliged to live in peace and friendship, without wars and conflicts, resolving their any differences peacefully and thereby contributing to the establishment of peace and love throughout the world. We are very pleased that this message of the Evangelist of love is echoed in the actions of governments that surround this region, and we pray that this will soon produce the expected results for the good of all peoples and the world.
Your Excellency, as we visit this sacred island, whose canonical Shepherd we also happen to be, we wish to convey to the entire Greek people through Your dearly beloved Excellency our deep paternal love and fervent prayers for health and progress in Christ.
The 900th anniversary since the foundation of this Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic monastery of St. John the Theologian on this island is evidence of the ceaseless and continuous tradition of holiness in the land of Greece. At the same time, however, it is evidence also of the benevolent and – we might say – critical and decisive role played by this sacred Monastery in the preservation of the cultural identity of the Greeks through the cultivation here of arts and letters, something which bears the vivid seal of Greek thought and of Greek civilization, as this developed during the glorious Byzantine times of Greek history. Therefore, the jubilee that we are celebrating during these days proclaims the decisive importance that this sacred Monastery and the Orthodox Church in general played for the entire history of Hellenism. The preservation and protection of this cultural heritage by the Greek State comprises both a duty and a privilege, of which the Greek government is deeply conscious and aware through the years.
Thus, we express our warm gratitude once again to Your Excellency and to the Government that you represent for this reception and for all that you do for this sacred island and this Holy Monastery. We ask you also to convey our fervent wishes for speedy recovery and continuation of his supreme duties to your President, who is ill. May God richly bless your work and the beloved people of Greece.