In conjunction with his successful efforts to have Greek schools opened, the Ecumenical Patriarch is also attempting, with the same zeal, to repair the chapels on Imvros, so that the island can regain its character, which was once clear and vigorous, with schools and churches, learning and services throughout the island.
As time has passed, the island, which has had its share of trials, has found plenty of supporters in these efforts of the Patriarch. From all over Greece, people have responded gradually to aid the repairs to the chapels on Imvros.
All told, the island has 314 chapels which have ceased to function. The dependencies of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain which were on the island were seized by the Turks in 1940, when the black miasma of the silence of the occupying forces spread all over the island.
To date, the Patriarch’s initiative has resulted in the repair of 1/3 of the chapels, recently including one which is very important for the history of Imvros, since it was here that the monk Vartholomaios, from the Monastery of Koutloumousi, lived and taught the people of Imvros to read and write.
The chapel of the Archangels belonged to the Monastery of Koutloumousi, as part of its dependency, which is how Vartholomaios came to be there.
Recently, the inauguration of this chapel took place, with the support of a friend of the Patriarch, Mr. Soulis Konstantopoulos, whom the Patriarch elevated to the rank of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in grateful acknowledgment of the family’s efforts.
At the ceremony, a host of people, including many from Imvros, gathered for this important moment for the island, when its historic chapel was restored to it.
Accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch, hierarchs of the Patriarchate, abbots and monks from the Holy Mountain, the property was returned to the chapel, which from now on will function normally.
It was inevitable that the Ecumenical Patriarch would be moved, and in his homily, when he spoke from the heart about this historic day for Imvros, he was unable to hide his tears, when describing his birth-place.
‘Imvros always moves me, and any little thing we do for the island makes me proud’, he said, eyes cast down and voice trembling.
The emotion felt at seeing the icon-lamps relit and people returning to places where so many prayers were heard in the past is very powerful. Candle will be lit again, the icons replaced to be reverenced, the hymns will be heard again, reaching on high from here on Imvros.