“Mount Athos and The Pilgrim’s Return”

7 p.m. Thursday, April 21 in Room 133
Wishcamper Hall University of Southern Maine, Portland campus
Free and open to the public

Robert AllisonBy Dr. Robert Allison
Pilgrimage is an ancient phenomenon in the history of religion — known in ancient Israel since the time of the Biblical kings, in Greek religion since the “Golden Age” of Athens, and in Christianity since Christians began traveling to the Holy Land to the sites of events described in the Gospels. In this illustrated lecture Prof. Allison traces the ways that Christian pilgrims from the 4th century to the present have experienced the spiritual metamorphosis of pilgrimage, and how they continued to bring the blessing (evlogia) of that transformative experience back home with them. He focuses especially on the role that icons and tokens play in this tradition. Then he takes us on a pilgrimage to Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, following the age-old story illustrated in an icon from the Monastery itself. Following his presentation will be a time for discussion when he will answer questions and share some of his personal experience of the Holy Mountain, which has been a life-long pilgrimage for him.

Dr. Robert Allison is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He earned his B.A. from Brown University in Religious Studies and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. While there, he served as an assistant curator of manuscripts and archives and lecturer in Greek paleography. As a research fellow in the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies in Thessaloniki, Greece, supported by a series of National Endowment for the Humanities grants, he undertook a long-term project describing the manuscripts and studying the history of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece.  He is a founding member of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America, and is the Membership Secretary for the Americas and “Webmaster” of the international society of the Friends of Mount Athos.

Talk on Refugee crisis on Lesvos

LesvosThe island of Lesvos in the northern Aegean Sea has become the gateway for the wave of migrants and refugees that are flooding into Europe through Greece. As of last count, more than half of the nearly one million people who have come through Greece in 2015 first landed on Lesvos. Portland, Maine and Mytilene, Lesvos are Sister Cities.

In a talk at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, Prof. Irwin Novak and Mary Snell will recount their experience on Lesvos this past October when they witnessed this historic migration first hand – a crisis which has shaken the entire European continent. The talk takes place in Room 133 Wishcamper Center, USM Portland campus. Sponsored by the Hellenic Society of Maine, it is free and open to the public. FMI – 892-9831

In their PowerPoint presentation Novak and Snell – who have spent the past 25 summers on Lesvos — will show videos of raft landings, will discuss the thorny issues of border controls, and introduce their audience to some of the people of the island (symbolically nominated this year for the Nobel Peace Prize) who have been helping with this crisis even though their lives have been turned upside down.

Contact: Mary Snell – 892-9831