From HUGer Kaila:
Today, we began our journey in Meteora, the home of 6 standing monasteries and Convents and the ruins of 14 more. We woke up early in order to have the opportunity to visit one of these famous monasteries before it got too crowded. The monasteries were built on top of enormous cliffs that would have been extremely difficult to get to when they were originally built. At the time, you would either have had to climb a very tall, sketchy ladder or be lifted in a net like a fish in order to get to one of these monasteries. Thankfully, about a hundred years ago, somebody decided to build a staircase, so we were able to get to the Varlaam Monastery safely.
Once we were at the monastery, we "read" the iconography on the walls. At the time, iconography was not considered to be art. Its purpose was to allow the average man to understand the story of Christ and His Church even if he could not read or did not have access to the Bible itself. My appreciation for how easy it is to gain direct access to a Bible in our own language steadily increased as I stared at the iconography covering the walls and ceiling of the monastery. If our tour guide, James, had not been there to explain what everything meant, I would not have had a clue what I was looking at.
The stories of several martyrs covered the walls. While it was painful to look at and think about, it is encouraging to know that so many who went before us believed in our faith so strongly that they were willing to die for it. As someone once told me, people are never willing to die for something that they know to be a lie.
Next, we drove to the Tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. They buried the tombs under a giant mound of dirt in order to prevent grave robbers. Philip II's tomb was the only tomb of a significant historical king, other than King Tut who has been found untouched by grave robbers. We were able to walk around in the buried tombs, learning about various objects that the king and his family were buried with. It was very interesting. At a cafe outside, Holly found a cat that she wanted to bring home, but unfortunately, we had to leave it so that we could go to our next destination, Veria. There, we were able to explore the Jewish Ghetto, the Alter of Paul, and the Church of Saint Demetrios. We drove to our hotel in Thessaloniki and thus concluded our tour for the day!
We miss y'all!