November 17, 2014

A Historic Divine Liturgy in Selybria Where St. Nektarios Was Born

After many years, at the birthplace of St. Nektarios in Selybria, where he lived until he was 14 years old and then left for studies in Constantinople, the feast of this newly-appeared Wonderworker Nektarios Kephalas of Aegina was celebrated on November 9, 2014 by Metropolitan Maximos of Selybria and Exarch of Europe, at the Byzantine aqueduct (Kilise Sarnici) beneath the ruins of the historic Byzantine Church of St. John the Theologian, now the Fatih Camii, built by Grand Duke Alexios Apokaukos.

It should be noted that since the day of his election, the charismatic Metropolitan Maximos, who is from Patras, with zeal and as a "good shepherd" searched throughout Thrace for the uprooted Christians of Selybria, so that they would all come together as "one flock" to the unforgettable homeland of their ancestors. And he, who was once the Deacon and Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for 20 years, achieved this very successfully, as over one thousand people who are descendents of those expelled Christians from Selybria participated in the solemn pilgrimage to the birthplace of their fellow countryman and Saint, together with many Romans from Constantinople.

Along with the Eastern Thracians that flooded the region to participate in this historic event, the Turkish media put the number of visitors in the 2000's, together with the President of the Christian Democratic Party of Greece and former Minister MP of Achaia Nikos Nikolopoulos, the MP of Kavala for New Democracy Mr. John Pashalidis, Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka, Deputy Mayors and local officials from the Departments of Drama, Rodopi, Kavala, Kozani and Thessaly, etc.

The Divine Liturgy was chanted by the multi-member Byzantine chorus of chanters under the direction of Gregory Papaemmanuel. After the Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Maximos of Selybria together with the Mayor of Selybria Özcan Işıklar, the political rulers from Greece and thousands of pilgrims from Greece, went on foot to the place that was the family home of St. Nektarios, which sadly was demolished some decades ago and remains plot of its 'own cost' acquired by the Municipality.

The Mayor announced to the Thracians gathered his decision that next year at his own expense the house of the Saint will be rebuilt in its traditional form to be a religious museum that will host personal objects, letters, photographs and other memorabilia of St. Nektarios.

This historic event was organized with the efforts of both the Metropolitan and the Mayor of Selybria. It was the first festive Divine Liturgy after many years in Selybria to honor the Saint.

At the end of the event the Turkish Mayor of Selybria and Metropolitan Maximos let loose two doves as a sign of peace and good neighborly relations between the two peoples, while the Mayor offered the MP Nick Nikopoulos a plaque and thanked him for his presence and participation, and they publicly pledged to meet again next year on the same day at the opening of the house/museum of St. Nektarios.

It is also worth noting that the Turks of Selybria warmly welcomed the Greek pilgrims, who were excited by the historical moments that they experienced yesterday and today in their place of origin.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.