“I am glad to have the opportunity to visit again in Athos, which is rightly called the Garden of the Virgin Mary,” Russian President said at the Mount Athos’ administrative center of Karyes, and stressed that “every man who walks on this earth of prayer, brings particular feelings.”
“The Holy Mountain is a unique defender of Orthodoxy,” Vladimir Putin said, praising the Mount Athos’ role in the strengthening of Christianity.
“We look forward to the establishment of relations with the Holy Mountain” concluded expressing his pleasure for that ” each year more and more visiting pilgrims from Russia.”
The Russian head of state head privately to the St. Panteleimon monastery, after the official welcome ceremony at Karyes, where he was welcomed by the Religious leaders and the Greek President , and lighted a candle and kissed the holy icon at Protaton church .
At St Panteleimon monastery, which is inhabited by Russian monks, President Putin was met by the 102-year-old abbot Jeremiah and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Abbot Jeremiah is the older among all monks in the Athos society. Those who have met him say that he might become a Saint due to his special spiritual value. Greek media reported that he is the “spiritual father” (pnevmatikos) of President Putin
Putin has arrived at the monastic center of Holy Mount Athos on his second and last day of his visit to Greece on Saturday afternoon. He visited Mount Athos’ administrative center of Karyes, and the Protaton church which is under the ownership of the Holy Kinot, Athos’ high governing council.
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos welcomed Vladimir Putin alongside local religious dignitaries, followed by a short service at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Putin then addressed members of the Holy Kinot stressing the importance of strengthening relations between Russia and Mount Athos , for the religious strength that this would provide to the Russian people
Russia and Greece celebrate 2016 as a cross-cultural year, marking the millennial anniversary since the first Russian settlement on the Holy Mount Athos.
Mount Athos is a peninsula in northeastern Greece with 20 monasteries – 17 Greek, one Russian named after St. Panteleimon, one Bulgarian and one Serbian. The 20 monasteries rule Athos through their representatives that make up the Holy Kinot.
Vladimir Putin arrived in Greece for his two-day visit on Friday. During his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras,
the Greek leader said that strengthening ties between Moscow and Athens is the “strategic choice” of the Greek nation.
The Russian leader, during his speeches in Athens on Friday, but also on Mount Athos on Saturday,
repeatedly underscored that Russia and Greece have common civilization values and Orthodox culture.
Russian Orthodox Church leader Kirill had already arrived since Friday on Mount Athos to join Vladimir Putin during his visit today.
It is not the first time Putin is visiting Athos. Actually,during his visit to Greece in September 2005, he was the first Russian leader to visit the holy place.
Byzantine Museum Athens, Opening ceremony of the exhibition of the Ascension icon by Andrei Rublev
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens on Friday.
Religious Diplomacy, notes Le Monde
By using “religious diplomacy” Moscow wants to break Europe’s unity against Russia because Greece has long opposed Western anti-Russian sanctions, an article in the French newspaper Le Figaro said.
“Vladimir Putin is the president of a country where the constitution proclaims the separation of church and state. At the same time, he is a religious person, taking into account his planned visit to Mount Athos, one of the most important orthodox holy places,” the article read.
Vladimir Putin’s cooperation with Tsipras may break the anti-Russian unanimity within the European Union. Greek Prime Mnister Alexis Tsipras, since he assumed his post has repeatedly criticized Western sanctions against Russia.
Ahead of the visit, Vladimir Putin wrote an article that was published by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini , where the Russian leader underlined that
He added that Russia is indispensable for Europe.
“An alliance between state and church is becoming more and more visible in Russia,” the article read.
Recently, the Russian Orthodox Church proposed to establish a new monetary organization controlled by all countries.
According to Le Figaro, thus the Church criticized global dollar and euro dominance.