Former Greek Minister’s Death at Sea a Murder Says Witness

Greek minister murder
Sifis Valirakis was found dead at sea. New evidence points at murder. Credit: AMNA

New evidence that emerged on the circumstances surrounding the death of former Greek minister Sifis Valirakis at sea in January suggests that it was perhaps a murder carried out by fishermen’s mafia.

Valirakis, 77, had gone out in his inflatable craft on Sunday, January 24, off the coast Eretria in the island of Evia in central Greece, where his family has a vacation home.

His boat was found in the afternoon without him, and his body later in the evening.

His wife has always maintained that it was possible manslaughter.

In a letter to Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis, Mina Papatheodorou-Valiraki said there were indications that it was possible another boat was in the sea area at the time which may have been involved in her husband’s death.

A medical examiner’s report said the death was caused by severe head and neck injuries.

However, an eyewitness emerged who, after almost three months, broke his silence and revealed that he saw a professional fishing boat approaching the inflatable of Valirakis.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, on the TV show of Aggeliki Nikolouli, he said that when the professional boat approached Valirakis, “an argument erupted.”

The newcomers were shouting at Valirakis: “Get out of here, old man” the eyewitness said.

He added that the newcomers hassled his inflatable by making at least two circles around it at high speed causing big waves.

“It was a murder”: Eyewitness on the Greek minister’s death

One of the professional fishermen hit him with a pole, the eyewitness claimed. “He hit him two or three times, before speeding away.”

He stated he was about one hundred and fifty meters away from the incident and that he clearly had seen the perpetrators of the crime.

For him there is no question: “It was a murder,” he said, speaking to Nikolouli, who is a leading crime investigating journalist, presenting her show on TV.

He also revealed that there was another similar incident in the area off Eretria recently, when a local fisherman was attacked with a wooden crate on the head because he had put longlines.

Manolis Fotakis, lawyer of Sifis Valirakis family, who was at the TV studio during the eyewitness account said:

“The testimony of the witness is shocking. Our legal team will ensure his safety.

“His testimony confirmed what we claim from the first moment, that Sifi’s death was not an accident, but murder.”

In a telephone call to the TV show, the brother-in-law of the former minister, Athanasios Papatheodorou, stressed:

“This testimony is shocking and I want to congratulate the man who found the courage to reveal the truth. All this time we have been faced with unbelievable situations in Evia, because the authorities tried to downplay the case.”

Valirakis’ family legal team blames the Coast Guard for negligence. It says that local officials left the inflatable boat unprotected, in an open space, before detectives could properly carry out forensic examinations.

The victim’s personal belongings, such as his uniform and snorkels were also left on the inflatable.

Family lawyers have filed an indictment for breach of duty of the Coast Guard.

Watch the relevant part of the program from 30′ onwards. (in Greek)

Greek Youth Party at Squares as Coronavirus Cases Remain High

Coronavirus parties Greece
Images from various squares in Athens show crowding as youth is partying. Video frame

Thousands of Greek youth defied the coronavirus restrictions and organized parties at several main squares in Athens over the weekend.

Large gatherings were observed at neighborhoods of Kipseli, Exarcheia and Pangrati.

Varnava Square in the Pangrati district of Athens has been placed under the close supervision of a special police unit since Friday afternoon to ensure that health safety measures are observed.

Police have blocked the surrounding streets leading to the square, allowing only permanent residents access to the area.

The action was taken after a delegation of disgruntled residents filed a complaint with local police on Friday.

According to residents, gatherings, albeit smaller ones, also take place on weekdays, which disperse by around 1 a.m., with loudspeakers playing music and moped races around the square.

Greece confirms 1,829 coronavirus cases on Sunday

Greece confirmed 1,829 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, with 3 of these identified at entry points to the country, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) said on Sunday.

Greece has confirmed 315,273 infections from the start of the pandemic (daily change: +0.6 pct).

In the confirmed cases of the last 7 days, 57 infections are related to travel from abroad and 3,374 to other confirmed cases.

There are also 65 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of pandemic victims to 9,462. Of these, 95.5 pct had an underlying condition and/or were 70 years old.

A total of 841 patients are on ventilators in hospitals. Their median age is 68 years and 85.5 pct have an underlying condition and/or are aged 70 or more. Another 1,941 have been discharged from ICUs since the pandemic began.

In addition, 495 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, a drop of 2.37 pct from the previous day.

The average number of admissions with Covid-19 to hospitals over the last 7 days was 519.

The median age of new infections is 44 years (range: 0.2 to 106 years), while the median age of the deceased is 79 (range: 0.2 to 106 years).

Greek Tennis Sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas Wins Monte-Carlo Masters

Stefanos Tsitsipas wins Monte Carlo
Credit: Twitter/Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Stefanos Tsitsipas won the final of Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters beating sixth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets (6-3, 6-3) on Sunday.

Appearing in his third final at the level, Tsitsipas dropped just four points behind his first serve (24/28) to capture the second biggest title of his career after 71 minutes.

Tsitsipas claimed early breaks in each set and dominated on serve to narrow the gap on Rublev at the top of the 2021 wins leaderboard.

After letting a big chance slip away at the Miami Open presented by Itau, the first ATP Masters 1000 event without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in 17 years, Tsitsipas arrived in the Principality eager for redemption.

On Saturday Tsitsipas raced past Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-1 to move one win away from his maiden trophy at the level.

The two-time Masters 1000 finalist broke Evan’s serve on five occasions to improve to 21-5 this season.

The Greek player has been in world-beating form this week in Monte-Carlo, where he also lives and trains.

Tsitsipas has not dropped a set

Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped a set all week, grounding Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev in his opening match, and cruising against Cristian Garin and breakout semi-finalist Daniel Evans. He also beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (7-5, ret.) along the way.

“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling energized. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me,” Tsitsipas said.

“I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is I would say a big plus. I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy. That has obviously contributed to that, to be able to finish the matches in two sets, not go to three-setters.”

Tsitsipas the youngest player ranked in the top 10

Tsitsipas is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and has a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history.

Tsitsipas was the champion at the 2019 ATP Finals, becoming the youngest winner of the year-end championships in eighteen years. He has won five singles titles and reached ten finals on the ATP Tour.

Born into a tennis family where his mother Julia Apostoli was a professional on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour and his father was trained as a tennis coach, Tsitsipas was introduced to the sport at age three and began taking lessons at age six.

As a junior, he was ranked No. 1 in the world. He also became the third Greek player, and first Greek male in the Open Era, to win a junior Grand Slam title with a victory in the 2016 Wimbledon boys’ doubles event.

People Trust Computers More Than Humans, New Study Says

Computers trusted more than humans
Computers are trusted more than humans. Credit: SimonWaldherr,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

A new study reveals that people may be more willing to trust computers than their fellow humans, especially if a task becomes too challenging.

The findings by scientists at the University of Georgia, were published in the journal Nature’s “Scientific Reports.”

From choosing the next song on your playlist to choosing the right size of pants, people are relying more on the advice of algorithms to help make everyday decisions and streamline their lives.

“Algorithms are able to do a huge number of tasks, and the number of tasks that they are able to do is expanding practically every day,” said Eric Bogert, a PhD student in the Terry College of Business Department of Management Information Systems.

Bogert added, “It seems like there’s a bias towards leaning more heavily on algorithms as a task gets harder and that effect is stronger than the bias towards relying on advice from other people.”

Bogert worked with management information systems professor Rick Watson and assistant professor Aaron Schecter on the paper, “Humans rely more on algorithms than social influence as a task becomes more difficult.”

Their study, which involved 1,500 individuals evaluating photographs, is part of a larger body of work analyzing how and when people work with algorithms to process information and make decisions.

For this study, the team asked volunteers to count the number of people in a photograph of a crowd and supplied suggestions that were generated by a group of other people and suggestions generated by an algorithm.

Can humans and computers trust each other?

As the number of people in the photograph expanded, counting became more difficult and people were more likely to follow the suggestion generated by an algorithm rather than count themselves or follow the “wisdom of the crowd,” Schecter said.

Schecter explained that the choice of counting as the trial task was an important one because the number of people in the photo makes the task objectively harder as it increases. It also is the type of task that laypeople expect computers to be good at.

“This is a task that people perceive that a computer will be good at, even though it might be more subject to bias than counting objects,” Schecter said.

Facial recognition and hiring algorithms have come under scrutiny in recent years as well because their use has revealed cultural biases in the way they were built, which can cause inaccuracies when matching faces to identities or screening for qualified job candidates, Schecter said.

Those biases may not be present in a simple task like counting, but their presence in other trusted algorithms is a reason why it’s important to understand how people rely on algorithms when making decisions, he added.

This study was part of Schecter’s larger research program into human-machine collaboration, which is funded by a USD 300,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office.

“The eventual goal is to look at groups of humans and machines making decisions and find how we can get them to trust each other and how that changes their behavior,” Schecter said.

“Because there’s very little research in that setting, we’re starting with the fundamentals.”


Greece Marks World Heritage Day with Free Access to Archeological Sites

Greece World Heritage Day
A view from the ancient royal Macedonian tombs in Vergina. Public Domain

Greece marks on Sunday World Heritage Day, also known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites, offering free access to the country’s numerous archaeological sites.

The World Heritage Day Day was proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on 18 April 1982 and approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983.

The aim is to promote awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage of humanity, their vulnerability and the efforts required for their protection and conservation.

Every year, a theme is proposed for the day which guides the celebrations and the many activities that ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees and by other bodies.

This year, the theme is entitled “Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures”.

The UNESCO website explains the history of a place can involve many points of view. The conservation of cultural heritage requires careful examination of the past, and its practice demands provision for the future.

In recent years, debates on certain narratives, and particular stories over others, have come to the forefront. Addressing difficult and often contested histories involves complex conversations with different stakeholders, avoiding biased views and interpretations of the past.

Acknowledging global calls for greater inclusion and recognition of diversity, this day invites all of us to reflect on, interpret and review existing narratives.

World Heritage Sites in Greece

Greece has 18 World Heritage sites inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The first site added to the list was the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, in 1986.

The next two sites listed were the Archeological site of Delphi and the Acropolis of Athens, in the following year.

Five sites were added in 1988, two in 1989 and 1990 each, one in 1992, one in 1996, two in 1999, and one in 2007. The most recent site added was the Archaeological Site of Philippi, in 2016.

On parenthesis is the date the particular site was included in the list:

  • Acropolis, Athens (1987)
  • Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) (1996)
  • Archaeological Site of Delphi (1987)
  • Archaeological Site of Mystras (1989)
  • Archaeological Site of Olympia (1989)
  • Archaeological Site of Philippi (2016)
  • Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (1999)
  • Delos (1990)
  • Medieval City of Rhodes (1988)
  • Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios (1990)
  • Old Town of Corfu (2007)
  • Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki (1988)
  • Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos (1992)
  • Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus (1988)
  • Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae (1986)
  • The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos (1999)
  • Meteora (1988)
  • Mount Athos (1988)

In addition there is also a tentative list of sites that are under consideration to be included. They are:

  • Late Medieval Bastioned Fortifications in Greece (2014)
  • National Park of Dadia – Lefkimi – Souflion (2014)
  • Ancient Lavrion (2014)
  • Petrified Forest of Lesvos (2014)
  • Archaeological site of Ancient Messene (2014)
  • Minoan Palatial Centres (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros, Kydonia) (2014)
  • Archaeological site of Nikopolis (2014)
  • The broader region of Mount Olympus (2014)
  • The Area of the Prespes Lakes: Megali and Mikri Prespa which includes Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments (2014)
  • Gorge of Samaria National Park (2014)

Sleep Apnea Affects One in Two Men in Greece, Study Finds

sleep apnea Greece
Credit:  CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikimedia commons

Half of Greek men and one in five women have sleep apnea syndrome, according to findings presented at an American College of Greece online lecture on Wednesday. The presentation, based on a study conducted in 2019 and released recently by Greek scientists, was conducted by Constantin Soldatos, professor of psychiatry and honorary president of the Hellenic Sleep Research Society.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s supply of oxygen, leading to potentially serious health consequences. The Hellenic Sleep Research Society says that sleep apnea in Greece is increasing among the population at a rapid pace.

A 2008 epidemiological study showed that up to 7% of men and up to 5% of women suffered from this syndrome. By 2019, the percentages reached 50% for men and 18% and women.

Anastasia Amfilochiou, pulmonologist and director of the Sleep Study Unit at the Sismanogleio Hospital in Athens, predicted that the syndrome will take the form of a pandemic in men aged 40 to 60 by 2050.

She said that the rapid rise in sleep apnea is related to an increase in obesity, but also other factors, such as anatomy, smoking, consumption of alcohol and sedative pills, but also genetic factors.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone, but is more common in people who are middle aged or older, who snore, who are above a healthy weight and who have sleep apnea in the family.

Evidence shows that people with untreated moderate to severe type of apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease.

Three types of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. That obstruction causes temporary lapses in breath.

Central sleep apnea (CSA): CSA happens because there is a problem with the brain’s system for controlling muscles involved in respiration, leading to slower and shallower breathing.

Mixed sleep apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.

Because the underlying causes are distinct, there are important differences in the symptoms, causes, and treatments of OSA and CSA.

All three types share certain common symptoms:

  • Disrupted breathing in which a person’s respiration can become labored or even stop for up to a minute at a time
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Limited attention span or difficulty thinking clearly
  • Many of these symptoms arise because of poor sleep and decreased oxygen levels that occur as a result of interrupted breathing.

Chronic snoring is the most common symptom of OSA, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring is not a frequent symptom in people with CSA.

In general, a person with the disorder is not aware of their breathing problems at night. For that reason, they often only find out about the issue from a bed partner, family member, or roommate.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is the most likely symptom to be noticed by people with sleep apnea that live alone.

Greece’s PM Mitsotakis Adopts Stray Dog Named Peanut

Greece Mitsotakis stray dog
Peanut awaits the arrival of PM Mitsotakis. Credit: Instagram/Mitsotakis

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has adopted a Greek stray dog according to an announcement on his Instagram account.

“Peanut came into our lives! He chose us when two weeks ago we visited the Ilioupoli Animal Welfare Association on the occasion of the International Day of Stray Animals. Open your arms and save a stray!” he wrote in his account.

“The truth is that I did not chose him, he chose us,” Mitsotakis added.

Peanut has already explored all areas of the Maximos Palace, the PM’s official residence and is rapidly adapting to his new environment. He has already won the love of all employees while he generously displays his tenderness to all.

Greece Mitsotakis stray dog
Peanut enjoys cuddling. Credit: Instagram/Mitsotakis

Greece’s financial crisis of the past decade brought with it many problems, including, tragically, the abandonment of pets. Many people during this years left their dogs and cats in the street because they could not afford to keep them, greatly increasing the population of stray animals in the country.

Greece is introducing sweeping new regulations for pet owners and pet sellers and stricter penalties for animal abuse in a new bill brought before Parliament on Thursday.

Presenting the bill, Alternate Minister of Interior Stelios Petsas said that the new “framework for pets shows our humanity.”

The new bill now explicitly includes the five internationally-recognized animal freedoms.

These are: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from unnecessary suffering and strain, freedom from pain, injury and illness, freedom from fear and anxiety, and the freedom to express normal behaviors in appropriate living conditions.

Greece Mitsotakis stray dog
Peanut takes a walk inside Maximos Mansion, the official residence of the Greek PM

Mitsotakis follows President Sakallaropoulou’s example

Mitsotakis has followed the example set by Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou who officially adopted a stray kitten named Calypso from the island of Karpathos, making the tiny feline the very first stray cat ever adopted by a Greek President while in office.

Greek president adopts kitten
Katerina Sakellaropoulou with her new companion. Credit: Animal Welfare Karpathos/Facebook

Sakellaropoulou first met the tiny kitten in October, when she made an official visit to Greece’s Karpathos, the second largest island in the Dodecanese archipelago, to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the island’s liberation from the Italians during World War II.

While on the beautiful island, rich with history and local tradition, Sakellaropoulou toured museums, cultural centers, and the town hall, and met with residents of Karpathos.

On October 4, World Animal Day, Sakellaropoulou made a stop at the Animal Welfare Organization of Karpathos, where she expressed her love for animals and her dedication to animal rights and the fight against animal abuse.

While there, she laid eyes on the adorable kitten, Calypso and was reportedly instantly smitten with her.

The head of the Animal Welfare Organization of Karpathos, Sophia Hiras-Mikros, formalized the adoption of the lucky kitten by President Sakellaropoulou during a visit to the Presidential Mansion in Athens in early November, and Calypso has been a resident of the Greek Presidential Mansion ever since.

Corfu Pays Last Respects to Prince Philip in Church Ceremony

Prince Philip Corfu
A church ceremony to honor Prince Philip was held in Corfu. Video frame

As the funeral of Prince Philip was taking pace in England on Saturday, in Corfu, the birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh, a ceremony also took place to honor his passing.

A memorial prayer was held at the Church of Agios Spyridon, supervised by the Metropolitan of Corfu, Nectarios.

Greek flag covers Prince Philip’s casket

In London, the Greek flag covered Prince Philip‘s casket as the late husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99 on April 9 in Windsor Castle.

He was the nation’s longest-serving consort — the name used to describe the spouse of a reigning monarch — and had been married to the Queen for 73 years.

The Greek white cross insignia can be seen on the upper right corner of the flag adorning Prince Philip’s casket, as it forms part of HRH’s royal standard.

Prince Philip
Credit: Buckingham Palace

His casket has been draped in his personal flag, which represents elements of his life, ranging from his Greek heritage to his British titles.

Queen Elizabeth II sat alone through Saturday’s funeral, in what was an emotional yet muted affair that took place as a nation healed from a pandemic.

The intimate service at St. George’s Chapel, within the grounds of Windsor Castle, was attended by 30 people including members of the royal family.

The duke was intimately involved in its planning, selecting the music and ensuring the ceremony reflects his military affiliations and personal interests.

The sparse congregation did not sing along to the music during the service, as per health restrictions.

Prince Philip’s life in symbols

When Prince Philip became engaged to Princess Elizabeth in 1946, he renounced his Greek title and became a British citizen, taking his uncle’s name of Mountbatten.

Prince Philip Corfu
The Royal Standard of HRH Duke of Edinburgh adorned Prince Philip’s casket. Credit: The World Flag Database & Graham Bartram

Starting from left to right, top to bottom, the standard of Prince Philip as Duke of Edinburgh is formed from four different coats of arms.

First is the simplified coat of arms of Denmark, as Philip was a member of the house of Glücksburg of Denmark and therefore the Danish royal family.

Next comes the coat of arms of Greece, giving a nod to his birth on the island of Corfu in 1921 and his membership in the Greek royal family.

The standard also includes a part of the coat of arms of the Mountbatten family, to which Philip belonged, as a descendant of the Battenberg family, a branch of the house of Hesse-Darmstadt, itself a cadet of the House of Hesse. This part of the flag is from the arms of Julia, Princess of Battenburg.

The fourth and last image on the flag is the coat of arms of Edinburgh. Depicting a highly stylised Edinburgh castle, this represents Philip’s title of Duke of Edinburgh.

Lord Byron’s Donation to the Greek Cause Unearthed Two Centuries Later

Lord Byron
The reception of Lord Byron at Missolonghi. Painting by Theodoros Vryzakis. Public Domain

A banknote unearthed by British paper The Observer sheds new light on Lord Byron‘s generosity and commitment to the Greek War of Independence.

The Observer found in Greece’s state archives a cheque by Lord Byron stipulates that  4,000 British pounds– roughly $460,000 today – be paid to Giovanni Orlando, a representative of the provisional government that, alarmed by the way the war was going, had approached the British peer for funds.

Lord Byron
Note of exchange for £4,000 signed by Lord Byron. Credit: General State Archives of Greece/The Observer

The money was to go towards emergency needs – notably financing a fleet to defend Missolonghi from besieging Albanians. Both sides agreed it would be repaid against a much bigger loan to be raised in London where Orlando was headed.

Speaking to the Observer, Dr Christine Kenyon Jones, who studied many of the poet’s manuscripts, said that “because of his fame, Byron was much forged.”

“But it looks as if this is an original signature attached to the script of a clerk,” she adds.

That the document should have lain unnoticed in the country’s archives for so many years was extraordinary, Jones told the Observer.

Byron agreed to the loan in Kefalonia, part of the British-run Ionian Islands where the poet and his coterie of fellow travelers had stopped on their way to Greece.

The cheque, subsequently cashed in Malta, was taken in the form of silver Spanish dollars and transported in trunks to Missolonghi by the poet.

The money was then used to fund fighting ships run as a commercial enterprise by profit-minded Greek islanders.

Lord Byron: The romantic poet who died for Greece

Lord Byron is one of the first and best-known philhellenes, who actively participated in Greece’s War of Independence, eventually losing his life in Missolonghi on April 19, 1824.

Born in 1788, George Gordon, who had the title of Lord Byron, became the leading figure of British Romanticism at the beginning of the 19th century.

He lived a full life in every aspect and died young for a cause he loved, which made him into even more of a romantic legend than he had been while a living poet.

Young, handsome and aristocratic, Byron lived exuberantly and had innumerable romances and scandalous relationships — although his acts of selfless heroism became part of a wider historic struggle.

For Greeks, Λόρδος Βύρωνας, as he is called, epitomized the concept of philhellenism because he died at the age of 36 for the freedom of a homeland that was not even his own.
Byron was also a bitter opponent of Lord Elgin’s removal of the Parthenon sculptures, denouncing the “theft” in the poem “The Curse of Minerva.”

Ode to the memory of Lord Byron

Sometime during 1823, Byron received an invitation to actively support the Greek struggle for independence from Ottoman rule.

He spent a tremendous amount of his personal fortune to repair ships in the Greek fleet and he even set up his own military squad, composed of fighters from Souli.

After staying for six months in Cephalonia, he decided to move to Morias in the Peloponnese, but he finally stayed in Missolonghi.

While there, he contacted Alexandros Mavrokordatos, to whom he donated another large installment of his personal fortune for the furthering of the Greek revolution.

At the same time, Lord Byron acted as a channel of communication between Greek fighters and British philhellenes in the creation of the first revolutionary loan, as a member of the London Philhellenic Committee.

Seeing the political controversies which had already erupted among the leaders of the Greek rebels, Byron called for the exclusive use of money for the liberation of the nation, instead of being used for political purposes.

Along with his concern for the military course of the Greek Revolution, the English aristocrat assumed the role of the bridge between the chieftains.

He points out in one of his letters: “As I come here to support not a faction, but a nation and to work with honest people rather than speculators or abusers (charges that are exchanged daily among the Greeks), it will take much effort to avoid and I understand that this will be very difficult, because I have already received invitations from more than one of the parties fighting, always on the grounds that they are the true representatives of the nation.”

In a letter to a trusted friend in September 1823, Byron further complained: “The Greeks seem to be at a greater danger among them, rather than from the enemy’s attacks.”

After attempting for so long to mediate the infighting among the leaders of the Greek Revolution, Byron suddenly fell ill in February of 1824.

The great philhellene, perhaps the greatest there ever was, died on April 19, 1824 in Missolonghi, at the young age of 36.

The lamentations after the great poet’s death came not only from among the Greek freedom fighters who saw him as hero of their own people, but also in England, where the distinguished romantic poet was mourned publicly.

Dionysios Solomos – Greece’s national poet, who also wrote the National Anthem – eventually composed a long ode to the memory of Lord Byron, certainly one of the greatest admirers the nation Greece has ever had.

FAITH Endowment Offers $2.57 Million Grant for St. Nicholas Shrine

FAITH endownment Saint Nicholas Shrine New York City
St. Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero blessing by Arcgbishop Elpidophoros in August 2020. Photo:

FAITH, an Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, has issued a grant of $2.57 million towards the rebuilding of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

The grant was in response to a special appeal by Archbishop Elpidophoros and former Archbishop Demetrios.

This is the second grant FAITH offers to the cause. In April 2020 it offered a grant of $14.2 million.

Overall, as the largest benefactor, the FAITH Endowment has given over $18.7 million to support the construction to rebuild Saint Nicholas.

“The grants to Saint Nicholas presented a unique opportunity of tremendous historical significance to showcase the Greek Orthodox faith and the story of Greek immigration to the US while preserving the values of our community for future generations,” The FAITH Endowment Board said in a statement.

“Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine will serve to remind the Greek Orthodox community, New Yorkers and the world that what was lost on 9/11 will always be remembered,” it added.

FAITH: Promoting Orthodoxy and Hellenism

Founded in 2004 by a group of ten visionary Greek American leaders and philanthropists, FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism is an independent organization that supports the development of innovative educational, cultural, and scholarship programs that promote Hellenism, an understanding of the Greek Orthodox faith, and the relationship of the two to America’s history and multicultural landscape for young people.

Since its inception with additional support from its members, FAITH has proudly awarded over 1,650 grants and scholarships to the best and brightest young leaders of the Hellenic-American and Greek Orthodox community through its prestigious FAITH Scholarships for Academic Excellence, FAITH-STEM scholarships, Fulbright-FAITH Scholarship collaboration, and more.

Last year, FAITH launched the Strategic Leadership for Transformative Action (SLTA), an executive education certificate course in non-profit management to cultivate clergy and lay leaders of the community in partnership with The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Supporting St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

FAITH, on occasion, has also provided grants for unique projects that showcase historical legacies of Hellenism and the Greek Orthodox faith within the US and around the world.

In response to special appeals from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Elpidophoros and former Archbishop Demetrios, FAITH has generously provided lead donor support to projects of symbolic significance including the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, the reopening of The Imvros School and development of Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies.

Saint Nicholas Shrine, the long-awaited church that is being constructed to replace the original St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero in Manhattan, will soon be clad in the very same Pentelic marble as the Parthenon, atop the Acropolis in Athens.

The radiant, cream-colored light of the marble of the Parthenon, which has shone like a beacon for more than two millennia, will be part of the new Shrine, which has been designed to serve as a lantern, with a transparent dome which will allow the light from within to shine up into the skies above New York City.