During a ceremony led by His Beatitude Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens Wednesday, Jan. 17, Saint George of Ioannina also known as St George of Fustanella was proclaimed Protector Saint of the ceremonial infantry unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion in Athens, Greece.
The Archbishop blessed a memorial in honour of New Martyr George of Ioannina, the official website of the Orthodox Church of Greece reports.
Saint George, who was martyred by the Turks for not converting to Islam on 17 January 1838 by hanging in Ioannina, and subsequently glorified by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 19 September 1839, was chosen as patron of the presidential guard because of his traditional iconographic depiction wearing the traditional fustanella, which is a clothing item of the Evzones of the presidential guard.
The fustanella worn by Evzones is a cotton kilt made from 30m of white cloth, with supposedly 400 pleats representing the 400 years of Ottoman occupation. As the Archbishop said during the ceremony: ‘The fustanella is a symbol of the Greek struggle and the acquisition of freedom.’
Attending the event was President Prokopis Pavlopoulos who noted that ‘New Martyr Saint George was martyred precisely because he did not accept to change his belief, he refused to renounce his faith. This for the presidential guard is of paramount importance because it shows what the presidential guard has always done since it was established.’
The Presidential Guard is a mainly ceremonial unit, charged with providing permanent ceremonial guard detachments of two Evzones each for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the entrance to the Presidential Mansion, and one Evzone for its own barracks, the Georgios Tzavellas Camp, situated directly in front of the Presidential Mansion.
Photography courtesy of ecclesia.gr