One of the seven Meteoran Monasteries.
We’ve said farewell to Greece and are moving into the second phase of our journey: Turkey. Here are some last thoughts on a few highlights from our visit to this land of incredible beauty and economic turmoil.
Wednesday, Jan. 21
We visited two of the seven monasteries comprising the Meteoran Monasteries. Perched high atop cliffs, the monasteries are near the town of Kalambaka and are Orthodox communities. More pictures of these stunning clifftop monasteries below.
Friday, Jan. 23
With reluctance we bade farewell to Greece on Friday. Now, on a Sunday evening, the results of the Greek election are coming in. It appears the opposition party called Syriza (an acronym meaning “Radical Coalition of the Left”) will win. The Greek economy is in very bad shape, exacerbated by tough austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European Community and designed to force Greece to cut public sector spending.
I saw some statistics that would startle anyone, particularly Catholic Charities staff: in Greece the unemployment rate is 25%, with youth unemployment at 60%. Average monthly wage in Greece is approximately $600-$660. That kind of unemployment and wage levels does not promote the common good.
The remnants of the old Roman Road in Philippi. The road dates back 300 years Before Christ and is called Via Egnatia. This road would have been trod by St. Paul.
Good morning from Greece and a town called Kalambaka very near to monasteries in Meteora which we will visit tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful trip so far, but tiring. I will do my best here to record some of the highlights.
Monday, Jan. 21
We began following in St. Paul’s footsteps by coming to Philippi in Greece. This seems fitting. It is in Philippi that Paul makes his first presence in Europe, Paul himself a native of Tarsus, which is in present day Turkey. St. Paul is of two worlds: steeped in his Judaism, and a citizen of the Roman Empire, trained in the arts of the Greco-Roman Empire.
Our first step in Paul’s footsteps was to visit Lydia’s grove. As Paul writes in Acts 16, it is here that he met Lydia, dealer in purple cloth, worshiper of God. After listening to Paul, Lydia asks to be baptized.
We noted the connections between Lydia and those we serve in Catholic Charities. Lydia was a single female head of household (a widow). Being that purple was a most expensive dye, it seems clear Lydia was a successful businesswoman. And so, by the small river in Philippi, we pilgrims from Catholic Charities noted how we are trying to empower women through our asset development programs.