During their stay in Greece, the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine fully experienced the love that Greeks showed. And the honorary citizenship of the Nestos Municipality for Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and all Ukraine is a visible sign of philoxenia, a Christian virtue deeply rooted in Hellenic culture.
This is stated in the greeting speech of Metropolitan Epifaniy, voiced at the ceremony for declaring him an honorary citizen of the city of Nestos (Greece).
Your Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!
Most Reverend Metropolitan Stephanos!
Dear representatives of Nestos Municipality!
Dear brothers and sisters!
I am touched by the decision announced today to grant me the status of an honorary citizen of Nestos Municipality. It is also a great honor for me to be an honorary citizen together with His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Apostle Paul, whose first steps on the land of mainland Europe and the first words of Gospel preach among Europeans were in these lands, said in the Epistle to the Hebrews that we Christians “do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). And although according to the needs of life and service, each of us has a place that has become their home, at the same time we all remain in this world just travelers who are heading to our only home – the House of the Heavenly Father.
And the following event will remind us of this journey of ours – the laying of the stone of a new temple where people found and will find eternal rest with their bodies.
But as long as we live in this world, as long as we travel through it, like any traveler we need support from our neighbors, we need hospitality, philoxenia – love for strangers.
During these days of our stay, we fully felt this love that you have. And the honorary citizenship of Nestos Municipality is for me a visible sign of your philoxenia, a Christian virtue deeply rooted in Hellenic culture. So although we really do not have an enduring city and, as Christians, are constant travelers through this world to the eternal House of our Father, I am grateful for this sign of your love for me and for the suffering people of Ukraine and for the holy Church of Ukraine.
May the Lord protect this city and all its inhabitants, bless it with all spiritual and earthly blessings, bless it with peace and prosperity! You will forever be in my heart and in my prayers!