Today marks a dual anniversary for the Greeks: the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and the Torpedoing of the cruiser Elli in 1940.
The celebration of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is one of the most sacred and celebrated religious days of the year. Greeks have associated Virgin Mary with love, care for the weak, and sensitivity, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, pointed out in her statement.
Official celebrations started on the evening of August 14 from the church of Saint Mary in Trabzon, where the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, presided the Great Vespers for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, in the presence of the Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros.
(VIDEO religious services commemorating the Virgin Mary today on Tinos)
On the day of the Dormition, Patriarch Bartholomew presided the Divine Liturgy at the historic church of Panagia Soumela in Vermio, northern Greece. The President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on Monday attended the doxology for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary at the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani on the island of Paros, in the Cyclades.
“This year, we celebrate this great day for Orthodoxy, longing for the consoling and inspiring protection of the Virgin Mary that we, the Greeks, have associated with love, care for the weak, and sensitivity. I hope these values continue to inspire us,” President Sakellaropoulou stated after the Divine Liturgy.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who visited the island of Tinos for the celebration, said: “From the smallest and most secluded chapels to the great pilgrimages of our church, Greece, the Orthodoxy, today celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. We find strength and faith to be able to individually and collectively overcome the great difficulties and walk the path of progress, the path of self-confidence, and the path of social cohesion.”
While Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate this holy day, a more somber historical event also occurred on this day. On 15 August 1940, an Italian submarine sank the Greek light cruiser Elli that was at the island of Tinos. Tinos has one of the most well-known monasteries dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and it was the center of celebrations for politicians, religious leaders, and the military. Sinking Elli was a deliberate provocation by the Italians to bring the two countries to war.
The leader at the time, dictator Ioannis Metaxas, did all that he could to play down the provocation. Metaxas' foreign policy had been to avoid entering into military conflicts. Metaxas succeeded in avoiding war between Greece and Italy in August. However, on 28 October 1940, Metaxas rejected an Italian ultimatum and brought Greece into World War II.
For today, the message of peace should be remembered.
(The Greek Crusier Elli being hit by the torpedo)
(Greek Crusier Elli memorial)