Albanian Orthodox Church – 28/9/17
On September 21st 2017 within an atmosphere of deep emotions the ceremony of granting the “Honorary Citizen” of Preveza Title to the Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios was held. His Beatitude had not been in this city, where his mother was from, since 1933, when he was at the age of five.
Archbishop Anastasios arrived in Preveza on Wednesday evening. The next day, on Thursday, September 21, at 11 am, he visited the Metropolis of Nikopoli and Preveza, and was accompanied by the Metropolitan of Amantias, His Grace, Nathanail. At the Metropolis, they were met by Metropolitan Krisostomos and later, they all went towards the City Hall.
There Archbishop Anastasios was received by the Mayor of Preveza, Mr. Christos Bailis, the Deputy Minister of Greece for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Janis Amanatidhis, local MPs, authorities and personalities.
They paid a visit to the mayor’s office, where the Deputy Minister, Mr. Amanatidhis conveyed to Archbishop Anastasios the very personal congratulations of the Prime Minister Mr. Aleksis Tsipras and of the entire Greek government. Following, the Mayor welcomed Archbishop Anastasios on his visit to Preveza, which has also been the birthplace of His Beatitude’s mother, Mrs. Roksani Maltezou, emphasizing that, ‘It is joy and honor for us to have you here today. I would like to express my feelings of joy, gratitude, respect and appreciation towards you on behalf of all the inhabitants of Preveza. I would like to wish you that God grant you strength and good health to continue your God-glorifying work, a work which you have been doing for fifty-seven years. I would ask you to pray for this place where your roots are.”
The Mayor and Archbishop exchanged gifts: the Mayor’s gift to the Archbishop was a pastoral stick, while the Archbishop gave him an icon and a relief of the Resurrection of Christ Cathedral in Tirana.
Then, in the crowded hall of the city’s cultural center, the official ceremony of the proclamation of the Citizen of Preveza Title to His Beatitude was celebrated. The Mayor spoke of the God-glorifying work of Archbishop Anastasios and also read the unanimous decision of the City Council and handed the title to His Beatitude.
The Mayor, Christos Bailis, referred to the links that Archbishop Anastasios has with Preveza, the birthplace of his mother, as well as to his human, social and philanthropic work in Albania, to his ecumenical contribution, characterizing him as a true worker of the Church in the service of peace and humanity for fifty-seven years.
In his speech, Archbishop Anastasios expressed his feelings of happiness glorifying God, his emotions, gratitude and optimism, while emphasizing: “I am today in this process of searching for my roots. We all have a story that relates to specific cities, families, and people. And we must always feel grateful when we remember all this queue of blessed people who helped us in laying our footsteps. “The Archbishop felt that it was necessary, as he claimed, to wish to the community of Preveza “truthfulness, love and goodness: three characteristics which determine Orthodoxy.”
At 6 o’clock in the afternoon, Archbishop Anastasios was received in the church of St. Harallambi, where, in the presence of the Metropolitans of Paramith, Arta, Ioannina, Lefkadha and Etoloakarnania, a Doxology was performed. Following it, Metropolitan Christendom decorated Archbishop Anastasios with the Highest Medal of Honor of the Metropolis, which was the Cross of the Apostle Paul.
At 19.00, the series of events continued with a concert in the cultural center where a documentary film about the work performed in the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania was presented, while a group of Greek folk music from the Preveza Music School sang four traditional songs from the Pogoni region.
On Friday, September 22, Archbishop Anastasios, feeling deeply emotional, visited the tombs of his grandparents (the Maltesou family) at the cemetery of Preveza, as well as the Nikopoli Museum.