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25/10 – 17/11/2019
Foyer, Thessaloniki City Hall

In the presence of His Excellency the President of the Republic, Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, and the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, the exhibition organised by the Mount Athos Centre entitled ‘St. Demetrius in the Art of Mount Athos’ was officially opened yesterday, Saturday 26 October 2019, at Thessaloniki City Hall.

After congratulating the Mayor on organising the exhibition, the President of the Republic, Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, characteristically stated: ‘My warm thanks to you, Mr. Mayor, for taking the initiative to stage this exhibition at the beginning of your term of office, and for re-establishing a link between this place, which is the institutional heart of Thessaloniki, and St. Demetrius, the city’s patron saint, so that from here, Thessaloniki and Macedonia, we can all proclaim the message to our people, our nation, and our large European family that we, the Greeks, are here and ever ready, through our history and traditions, to play a leading role in troubled times.’

The President went on to say, ‘Everyone at this time should decide what role they can play in making Thessaloniki a shining example of progress, for the benefit of Greece and the European family as a whole.’ He later added, ‘It is of great significance to us Greeks, and to the world at large, that Byzantium and its civilisation never formed part of the Middle Ages. This myth, which was skilfully cultivated in certain quarters, is finally being dispelled and debunked. Others may have been part of the Middle Ages, but it was Byzantium and its civilisation, through the Fathers of the Church, that preserved the legacy of the other two pillars of our civilisation. It preserved both the legacy of ancient Greece and the institutional legacy of ancient Rome and that is how we made it to the Renaissance. This city, Mr. Mayor, should be aware of this fact and proud of it!’  
In his reply, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, stated: ‘For the first time in many years, this emblematic building, our new City Hall, the home of all Thessaloniki’s citizens, is reopening its doors to celebrate the feast-day of St. Demetrius, as a mark of respect for our city’s culture and traditions, and to show its optimism and belief in the city’s successful and triumphant future. Today we Thessalonians have the unique pleasure of celebrating two different festivals: the 26th of October is both the feast-day of our guardian and patron saint and also the day on which our city was liberated from the Ottoman yoke in 1912.’    
Mr. Zervas made a special reference to the verses written by the poet Zoe Karelli: ‘Beseech our city’s guardian, O people of Thessaloniki. Gather together and ask once more for a miracle, ask for the leader, the invincible general, the saint, the angel of goodness, to appear and show you the way.’ He then went on to say, amongst other things, ‘In the book recording the long history of the city of Cassander and St. Demetrius, we will strive with all our might to write a new chapter telling of an era of creativity, prosperity and success.’

«Καθένας αναλαμβάνει τούτες τις ώρες τις ευθύνες του για το πώς η Θεσσαλονίκη πρέπει να ακτινοβολήσει, για την Ελλάδα αλλά και την ευρωπαϊκή οικογένεια» ανέφερε χαρακτηριστικά.
«Έχει αξία, όχι μόνο για εμάς τους Έλληνες, έχει αξία γενικότερα, ότι το Βυζάντιο και ο πολιτισμός του ουδέποτε υπήρξαν μέρος του Μεσαίωνα. Αυτός ο μύθος που κάποιοι καλλιέργησαν εντέχνως, επιτέλους διαλύεται και καταλύεται. Άλλοι μπορεί να υπήρξαν μέρος του Μεσαίωνα. Το Βυζάντιο και ο πολιτισμός του, μέσα από τους Πατέρες, ήταν εκείνο το οποίο διέσωσε την κληρονομιά των δύο άλλων πυλώνων του πολιτισμού μας. Διέσωσε την κληρονομιά της Αρχαίας Ελλάδας, διέσωσε την θεσμική κληρονομία της Αρχαίας Ρώμης και έτσι φτάσαμε στην Αναγέννηση. Αυτό, τούτη εδώ η πόλη, κύριε Δήμαρχε, πρέπει να το γνωρίζει και να είναι περήφανη για αυτό!» συμπλήρωσε ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας.

Ο Δήμαρχος Θεσσαλονίκης Κωνσταντίνος Ζέρβας, στην αντιφώνησή του τόνισε: «Το εμβληματικό κτίριο του νέου μας Δημαρχείου, το σπίτι των δημοτών της Θεσσαλονίκης, ανοίγει ξανά μετά από χρόνια, για να γιορτάσει τον Άγιο Δημήτριο, σηματοδοτώντας τον σεβασμό στον πολιτισμό και στις παραδόσεις της πόλης μας. Για να καταδείξει την πίστη, την αισιοδοξία της για τις νίκες, τις επιτυχίες που θα έρθουν στο μέλλον. Οι Θεσσαλονικείς έχουμε μια μοναδική χαρά να γιορτάζουμε σήμερα διπλή γιορτή. Η 26η Οκτωβρίου είναι η μέρα του πολιούχου και προστάτη της αλλά είναι και η μέρα της απελευθέρωσης της από τον οθωμανικό ζυγό, στις 26 Οκτωβρίου 1912».

Ο Κ. Ζέρβας έκανε ειδική αναφορά στους στίχους της ποιήτριας Ζωής Καρέλλη: «Παρακαλέστε της πόλης μας τον προστάτη. Μαζευτείτε κάτοικοι της πόλης Θεσσαλονίκης. Ζητείστε και πάλι το θαύμα, να φανεί ο αρχηγός να σας δείξει τον δρόμο. Στρατηγός ο ανίκητος. Άγγελος του καλού, άγιος».
«Θα αγωνισθούμε με όλες μας τις δυνάμεις να γράψουμε σελίδες δημιουργίας, ακμής και επιτυχιών,  στο βιβλίο της μακραίωνης ιστορίας της πόλης του Κάσσανδρου, της πόλης του Αγίου Δημητρίου» επισήμανε, μεταξύ άλλων.

On behalf of the Holy Community of Mount Athos, the abbot of Chilandar Monastery, Archimandrite Methodius, warmly welcomed the exhibition and declared, ‘Since the earliest days of its establishment as a monastic centre, Mount Athos has had a close association with the city of Thessaloniki and its guardian St. Demetrius, as indeed is shown by the depiction of the saint in a prominent position in the ancient Church of the Protaton, together with his Thessalonian fellow martyrs, St. Nestor and St. Lupus. Congratulations are due to the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, who, in excellent collaboration with the Mount Athos Centre, undertook the task of organising the exhibition in honour of the Great Martyr St. Demetrius, whose feast-day is being celebrated today. We look forward to his visiting us on Mount Athos in the near future.’

The gift presented to the President of the Republic by the Municipality of Thessaloniki as a token of gratitude for his inaugurating the event at Thessaloniki City Hall took the form of a book which was published by the Mount Athos Centre in 2004 to mark the 1700th anniversary of St. Demetrius’ martyrdom and contains 150 depictions of St. Demetrius from the holy foundations of Mount Athos. The gift is unique in that the book was especially rebound for the President of the Republic in accordance with Byzantine bookbinding standards by the bookbinder Monk Kallistos, who runs a workshop at the Cell of the Transfiguration, a dependency of Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos.

The presentation was followed by a rendition of the ‘Ode to St. Demetrius’ by the Byzantine choir ‘Evrodomountes’ under the direction of Mr. Georgios Patronas.

After the end of the opening ceremony, which was attended by representatives of the government, the political and military leadership, the Holy Metropolis of Thessaloniki, the consular authorities and the city’s business community, along with many other guests, His Excellency the President of the Republic, Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, was given a guided tour of the exhibition by the Director of the Mount Athos Centre and exhibition curator, Mr. Anastasios Douros.

The exhibition will remain in the Foyer of Thessaloniki City Hall until 17 November 2019.






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