In a long journey full of religious and cultural symbolism, 34 year-old George Lipiridis recently bicycled from the Panagia Soumela Monastery in the Greek region of Macedonia, to the Panagia Soumela Monastery in present-day Turkey, near the city of Trabzon. This journey connected two of the most sacred monasteries of Pontic Hellenism.
Lipiridis was born in Tbilisi, capital of present-day Georgia. He is a proud Pontian Greek from a Russian mother. Lipridis’ family moved to Greece when he was young, and today even his mother speaks Greek.
In an interview with the Praktoreio FM radio station in Thessaloniki, Lipiridis shared his recollections of his village in Georgia’s highlands where everyone spoke the Greek dialect of the Pontians.
”My parents knew that life would be difficult but decided to live in the country of their hearts, Greece,” Lipiridis said.
Researching his family’s genealogy, Lipiridis found that his ancestors came from the Pontic village of Partin, in present-day Turkey. Thus, he made the brave decision to visit this village, thereby the two Panagia Soumela monasteries in Greece’s Veria and near the Turkish city of Trabzon.
Lipiridis launched his long journey on August 15 from Mount Vermio in Greece’s Imathia region, where Veria is located.
His plan was to cycle for 200 kilometers every day until reaching his destination. For Lipridis this was not an unprecedented feat, as he is an experienced cyclist who has traveled long-distance across Greece.
Upon finally arriving at the Panagia Soumela monastery in Trabzon, his emotions were overflowing. Even though he couldn’t enter the monastery due to maintenance work that was taking place, he said that he felt absolute happiness as the memories of his ancestors were all there.