On the feast of the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiated, February 2, 2022, during the Divine Liturgy in the remote small chapel of the Virgin Mary, in Kokkina of Imbros.
Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos, who was present in prayer, warmly welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch, to Imbros.
The Patriarch repeated the great joy that he feels during his visits to his special homeland and from his communication with his compatriots. He once again praised the Archbishop of the island for his work and ministry for the strengthening and animation of the faithful people, while on the occasion of the Divine Liturgy, during today’s sacred celebration, in a small chapel, he referred with emotion to the chapels of Imbros, which are scattered in the mountains, the plains, and its shores, and in which faithful Christians take care to always keep their candles lit.
The previous afternoon, the Ecumenical Patriarch officiated at the Vespers for the feast of Ypapantis, which was performed at the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin, in the village of Glyki.
In his speech, he made a special reference to the learned Hieromonk Bartholomew Koutloumousianos, whose name bears, a descendant of Glykeos, with a great contribution to the ecclesiastical letters in general, and a catalytic role in the development of education in Imbros.
“The name of Bartholomew was written in golden letters in the history of the Church and the Nation. He was completely devoted to the Great Church, which he served with all his might”, said the Patriarch and at another point, he added:
“For the birthplace of Imbros, Bartholomew Koutloumousianos was a key figure. The rebirth of education in Imvros is due to him. Together with his brother Cyril, they founded and operated the first school in Imvros in Koutloumousiano Metochi of Taxiarches, a short distance from Glyki, in the direction of Kastro, the old capital of the island.
This Metochi was destroyed after the expropriation by the state and the forced evacuation of the whole complex in 1943. The people of Glyki remember the mourning and the mourning bells on the day of the transfer of the icons and other sacred utensils and vestments from Metochi to the parish church, where we are today. Seven decades later, a relevant permit was granted, and in May 2017, the reconstruction of the Metrochi Archangels was completed. We hope that it will be possible to renovate other areas of the complex.
The Koutloumousiano Metochi of the Archangels is a symbol for the beginning of a new period in the field of education for Imvros, which began thanks to the zeal and enthusiasm of Bartholomew, not without reactions from both sides. This effort has borne much fruit along the way. The next generations of the Imvrians now attached great importance to the education of their children. We consider very important the fact that learned monks and ecclesiastical men contributed to the rebirth of education in Imbros. Of course, this did not happen only here, and it reminds us of the central role of the Church in the history of the Nation, its decisive contribution to the formation and preservation of our identity.”
The Patriarch then referred to the also Glykian clergyman, Nikiforos Glykas (1819-1896), a great learned Hierarch of the Church, while he spoke with emotion about his Elder, the late Metropolitan Melitonas Hatzis.
“Our benefactor Metropolitan of Imvros and Tenedos Meliton was also a benefactor of Imvros in the field of education, during whose pastorate – throughout the 1950s until 1963 – Imbros experienced an educational spring, which was violently interrupted in 1964.
Our blessed Elder is the one who connected our lives with Bartholomew Koutloumousianos. During our ordination, on August 13, 1961, at the Metropolitan Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the capital of Imbros, Panagia, I heard the words from the Elder: “I call on Bartholomew, in memory of Bartholomew of Koutloumousian of Imvros”. It is a fact that the speaker expected to be given this name of his Elder: Meliton. But he wisely thought differently.
Since then, for more than sixty years, we bear this name, which connects us with Glyki, the favorite village of Bartholomew Koutloumousianou, the so-called “balcony of Imvros”, which is praised by the most learned monk for his “meteoric position”, which provides it with a “wider horizon” and “more terrifying view” than that of other villages on the island.
Today, the few Glykians who remained here rejoice, and the souls of the many who have fallen asleep rejoice, who rest by the Church, awaiting the resurrection of the dead. Glyki was found in 1964, the “darkest year” in the history of Imbros, in the eye of the cyclone, after most of its lands were expropriated and, very quickly, the vast majority of its inhabitants, with no prospect of life anymore, were forced to emigrate. Its new school, with a common courtyard with the church, is now a hotel. When it was built, from 1957 to 1963, the lessons took place in two cafes in the village. This modern building functioned as a Greek school only in the school year 1963-1964.”
Then the Patriarch congratulated Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos for his initiative to declare 2022, which marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the monk Bartholomew, the “Year of Bartholomew Kontlumousian of Imbros”.
“For us Imbrians, the ‘baby girl’ is the whole world. Despite the many hard adventures of the last decades, we survived. The “Dissolution Program” and the unspeakable sufferings it caused, did not dissolve the ethos of the Imvrians, they did not lower their morale. We are grateful to those who stayed on the island during the Stone Age and kept the place and the way of eternal life. Without them, there would be nothing on our island reminiscent of old Imbros.
Those who went abroad did not lose their identity. They kept Imvros inside them, integrated into their lives, in foreign places. With their ethos, honesty, and diligence they excelled in many fields, with always alive in them the desire to live the ‘wholesome day’. We praise the work and contribution of our Associations, the support to our compatriots in their homeland and wherever they take up abode, their many effective actions, their struggle to defend our rights.
Today we live a promising course in Imbros. Our schools, after fifty years of silence, are operating. In fact, for the first time in our history, we have a Lyceum. The gates of our Holy Churches are open. Our presence on the island has increased. We are proud of our origin from “a small island with a long history” – this is the eloquent title of the wonderful two-volume book by a couple of archaeologists Elias and Ioanna Andreou. But we must continue the good fight, with faith in the providence of God and with confidence in our own strengths.“