The Archbishop of America Elpidophoros, on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, worshiped at several noted monasteries on Orthodoxy’s “Holy Mountain” on Monday, accompanied by archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other officials and clergy of the Archdiocese.
This very special pilgrimage to northern Greece, Mt. Athos and the Phanar is in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese of America.
Yesterday, the Archbishop and his entourage were in Thessaloniki where he visited the Rector of the University of Thessaloniki, the Presidents of the Departments of the Theological School, the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace and other state officials.
Archbishop Elpidophoros on pilgrimage to celebrate archdiocesan centennial
Today Elpidophoros reverenced the miraculous icon “Axion Estin” at the Holy Temple of Protatos and then visited the Proto, or First, monastery of Mount Athos.
In the afternoon the Archbishop visited the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi, where he was warmly welcomed. The Abbot of the Monastery, Elder Ephraim, addressed him in special remarks for the occasion.
Tomorrow Elpidophoros will travel to the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras and Xenophon, while on Wednesday in Komotini, Democritus University will award him the title of honorary doctor.
On Friday the Archbishop of the Americas will end up in Istanbul, where he and his companions will have an audience with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, from whom they will ask a blessing for the beginning of Holy and Great Lent.
When in the Phanar, Elpidophoros will express his gratitude to the Hierarchy of the Clergy and the people for the founding of the Archdiocese of America 100 years ago.
Last June, Abbot Ephraim was lying in a hospital bed in Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital in critical condition after falling ill with Covid-19.
He had contracted the disease after already suffering from diabetes and a cardiac ailment.
He was intubated for a number of days; at the time, his physicians said that he was not responding to medicines that were administered to him; in addition, he was running a consistent high temperature of 39-40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
At one point, the Abbot even went into septic shock.
Born in Cyprus, Ephraim rose to notoriety after he was accused of illegal rea estate dealings in 2008. He was finally acquitted after years of litigation, however.
He more than anyone else is credited with restoring the historic Vatopedi Monastery, one of the wealthiest of Mount Athos, which had fallen into hard times, with only a handful of very elderly monks living there at one point.
Ephraim is known to be friends with Prince Charles, whose grandmother Princess Alice was an Orthodox nun; the heir to the British throne has visited the monastery a number of times.