By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
At the Cultural Reception: From Byzantium to America
Centennial Clergy-Laity Congress
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY
July 6, 2022
Most Honorable Delegation of the Mother Church of Constantinople:
Your Eminence Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon,
Your Eminence Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos, and Very Reverend Grand Ecclesiarch Aetios,
Your Eminences and Graces,
Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ,
Gathering in this temple of the Muses, the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art – just a few blocks from our Archdiocesan Headquarters – is a very meaningful venue for us, the Greek Orthodox People of America.
I would like to thank the Tsakopoulos Family for being a major sponsor and host of this event, and especially Chrysanthy Tsakopoulos Demas – for having the vision to design and execute such a wonderful evening.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art speaks to our community both as a premier home of Greek Classical Art, and because of its commitment to Byzantine Art, highlighted by the Jaharis Lectionary. This is such a wonderful setting for our program tonight, From Byzantium to America, a presentation worthy of our Centennial Celebration.
In this place there is a unique tribute to our faith and to our traditions. It is rare to see a reproduction of any piece of art in any Museum, but in this Medieval Hall here at the Met, high up the wall is the only full-scale, exact and authorized copy of the Deesis mosaic from Hagia Sophia. It was made in the late 1930s during the restorations of the Great Church by the Byzantine Institute of America. The newly revealed mosaics were the focus of an exhibition at the Museum in 1944, when this particular work was featured. The fact that the Museum has kept this reproduction exhibited in their collection of so many magnificent originals, speaks volumes about the enduring value of our traditions.
Tonight, we honor those of great appreciation and exercise of what is best in our Church: Centennial Honorees: Archon Musicodidaskalos Giorgios Theodoridis, Costa Tsourakis and the incomparable Archon Stephen Cherpelis. They represent the dedication to the “beautiful and the good” – τὸ καλὸν κἀγαθόν – that is the essence of the Hellenic tradition and our Orthodox faith.
I ask them all to come forward at this moment for the presentation of their awards.
In closing, as we consider what it means for us as Greek Orthodox Christians to celebrate our heritage in this place, I would like to quote from the great poet, W. B Yeats, who wrote these immortal lines:
I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
Poetic and lovely to be sure, but for us, who came from Byzantium to America, we have a different calling and experience.
Ours is a divine vocation to share with this blesséd country the glories of Byzantium and the wonders of our authentic, faithful and historic Orthodox Christian tradition.
This House of the Muses reminds us all of that calling, steeped as it is in our history.
May we always be found to be faithful stewards of our tradition, who know how “to bring out of our many treasures, what is new when it is appropriate, and what is old and timeless for the benefit of the world, and for the glory of God. (Cf. Matthew 13:52)
Thank you all, and thanks be to God!