Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos) on Sunday continued his tour of northwest Greece, visiting the Valia Kalda national park in the prefecture of Grevena and a historic local monastery, before heading to the Panaghia Soumela Monastery on Mt. Vermio.
During a reception in his honour at a local restaurant, the Patriarch publicly praised the owner of the business after learning that he was the father of a family of seven, noting that the issue of a low birth rate is a problem in 21st century Greece.
"We were four siblings, and my late father kept a coffee shop in our village (on the island of Imvros, in the NE Aegean), where in one corner was a barber's chair; that is how he raised us under the difficult living conditions of our village. We did not have electricity, no running water in our houses, we had to use the village spring," Bartholomew said in reminiscing of his own childhood.
His visit to the national park, in the central part of the Pindus mountain range, aimed to raise the environmental awareness of the pristine region.
"We want to continue to work in this direction, particularly amongst the youth. We want to increase sensitivity, love and respect towards God's creation," he added.