Photo exhibit on patriarch opens

The exhibition of photographs «Patriarch Vartholomaios’s 10 Years of Service (1991-2001)» opened on October 1 at Athens’s Christian and Byzantine Museum in the presence of the patriarch himself, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Patriarchate officials. It comprises 250 large photographs of his world tours and meetings with dignitaries including Pope John Paul II, heads of state, heads of Orthodox churches, as well as ordinary people. «In these photographs, I myself am not the protagonist, but the Orthodox Church, for the whole of which, by the grace of God, I am but an instrument,» he explained in his speech, while praising photojournalist Nikos Manginas’s devotion to his work and his ability to make events come alive in his photographs. Manginas, who accompanies the patriarch on all his travels, spoke of the church leader’s enlightened character and his faith which enable him to «spread the message of Orthodoxy, the message of Ecumenical Hellenism.» In the exhibition catalog, which includes notes on the patriarch’s journeys, Manginas writes of a meeting in 1992 with a wise and perceptive monk at Mt Athos, Paisios, whom he asked for his opinion of the patriarch’s work. Paisios, who died in 1994, had replied: «God found the best patriarch for these difficult times.» After a full schedule of meetings in Athens, the patriarch returned to his base in the Phanar district of Istanbul only to leave again for Brussels, where he is meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.