Church of Cephalonia is "with great certainty" among the
Apostolic Churches founded in Greece by St. Paul the Apostle. This
was the scientific conclusion of the Third Conference on "Identifying
Cephalonia as Meliti (Praxeis 28,1)", that was held
in Lixouri, Cephalonia from August 26th to August 29th of 1999.
On the same topic there had been two scientific Symposia of a more
limited scope, in 1993 and 1996, held in Lixouri as well and organized
by the Holy Metropolis of Cephalonia.
At he bottom of the desire to confirm the relationship
between St. Paul, the Enlightener of Greece, with the local Cephalonian
Church was Dr. Heinz Warnecke's dissertation at the Philosophy School
of Vreme University (Germany) which proposed a revolutionary theory
and was referred to as "the theological event of the century".
The dissertation published in 1987 under the title "Die tatsachliche
Romfahrt des Apostels Paulus"(St. Paul the Apostle's True Journey
to Rome), claims through citation of very convincing arguments,
that: in 59 AD, St. Paul on his way from Palestine to Rome in order
to stand trial, was not shipwrecked and confined for three months
to Malta (Praxeis Chapter 27), but rather, all this took
place on the Greek island of Cephalonia.
Mr. Warnecke, a geography historian, evangelist in
doctrine, put forth a theory which contained the first "revolutionary"
piece of data: confirmation of the historical event of the shipwreck
and St. Paul's turmoils as outlined in ch. 27 (Praxeis),
something that is rejected by the "liberal" protestant
critics. Thus, the attacks aimed at this new theory are understandable
since the representatives of this school of thought, using a different
approach, reject the identification of Cephalonia as Meliti. In
this, their views coincide with those of the Maltese and the Vatican.
Mr. Warnecke's historical-geographic conclusion however,
was internationally received and accepted, making Cephalonia the
center of attention for scientists and the media on the issue of
St. Paul's shipwreck locale. The island has already gathered the
interest of the international community during the last decades
due to its identification as Homeric Ithaca, a theory embraced by
Mr. Warnecke as well. It was his involvement with the latter theory
from a homeric geography and archeology viewpoint - a purely scientific
incentive - that led him to research the historical validity of
the events outlined in Praxeis chapter 27.
The identification of Cephalonia as the place of St.
Paul's shipwreck was not , of course, arbitrarily arrived at. It
was rather a result of scientific review of historical accounts,
especially the locational information provided in Praxeis, which
after eliminating the possibility of Malta being Meliti due to the
sea currents and other metereological facts, it focused on Cephalonia.
As confirmed by Captain W. Stecher during the last Conference, the
geophysical and navigational indications all point to Cephalonia.
This has also been reaffirmed by repeated computer simulations of
the journey. Mr. Wernecke has promoted the conclusions of his research
through a multitude of publications and especially the second publication
of his dissertation plus two more books. In addition he has lectured
on the subject in Malta and Greece. Over 150 positive book reviews
have been written on his publications, most of them accepting the
theory. As a result, in Western Europe and especially Germany, known
as the place where most of the provacative and revolutionary theological
issues are usually first investigated, all Atlases and Lexicons
have adapted the theory or mention it alongside the older position.
New editions of the New Testament have ousted the unscientific and
slogan-like content of verse 28,1: "...Malta is the island
called", reverting to the authentic text: "...Meliti
is the island called".
Wernecke's theory was made widely known in Greece mainly through
the scientific presentations of Professors I. Karavidopoulos and
G. Galitis, as well as by Reverend G. Metallinos through his lectures
and related publications. . From the beginning, the Most Reverend
Metropolitan of Cephalonia Spyridon, fully aware of the significance
of the the theory regarding Meliti, did not spare effort nor expenses
for its promotion and scientific confirmation. The Holy Metropolis
of Cephalonia took on the publication of the presentation of critical
reviews of the theory by Rev. G. Metallinos and the translation
of Mr. Warnecke's studies. The Metropolis also undertook the convocation
of the three Symposia - Conferences mentioned earlier.
At the 1993 Scientific Symposium, two distinguished
experts on the New Testament - namely Professor G. Galitis and Professor
I. Galanis - expressed their corresponding conclusions: "Malta,
no. Cephalonia, why not?" and, "Malta, no, Cephalonia,
This interscientific (theological, metereological,
physiognomistic etc) approach to the issue proves that it would
have been impossible for the boat carrying St. Paul - sailing out
of control for fourteen days in "Andria Sea" - to be directed
to Malta (i.e. west of Crete), when the strong south winds started
blowing. Instead, it would have moved in a northwestern direction,
deep into the Ionian Sea and ended up in Cephalonia like so many
other shipwrecks in ancient times that have been noted by Mr. Warnecke.
According to his announcements at the last Conference in 1999, similar
accounts can be found in the Odyssey, such as that of the Phoenician
ship heading to Pylos that was swept by the thundering winds from
Crete to Cephalonia. Another mention is found in the Homeric Ode
to Apollo where a Cretan ship ended up in Cephalonia due to the
sweeping southern winds. More accounts still are found in the ancient
romance story "Chaireas and Kalliroe" by Chariton
Aphrodiseas during the era of the Roman empire. According to this
account, a wind storm forced the the ship of Cretan pirate Theron
while sailing to Syracuse to end up in Cephalonia, forcing Theron
to spend his winter on the island. It was from Cephalonia that he
finally sailed to Syracuse. This is an impressive account of a sea
journey comparable to that told inPraxeis regarding St. Paul's
journey to Rome via Syracuse.
This relationship explains one of the most incomprehendible
points of Praxeis. In verse 28,1 it is stated that originally
neither the shipwrecked Apostles (Paul, Luke, etc), nor the crew
members recognized the island of Cephalonia. (Praxeis 27,39:
" the land, they recognized not.."). This seems very
peculiar since Cephalonia was well known in navigational circles
of the Roman era. As told, they asked the islanders they met as
to the land's identity and were informed that the island's name
was "Meliti". According to Mr. Warnecke, Meliti was the
name of the Argostoli Peninsula (Lassi) where he proposes that the
ship actually ran ashore and was wrecked. Those of us - and especially
seamen - with experience of the weather conditions in Cephalonia,
know very well that "sirocco" which frequently causes
severe windstorms, causes the entire island to be covered in such
heavy fog that even Mt Aenos (with an altitude of 1628 meters) is
not visible and the island is rendered unrecognizable. This would
be ever so more the case for a ship that has been wandering out
of control in Andria for fourteen days. Mr. Theofrastos Hartouliaris,
a teacher participating in the Conference, made an interesting and
convincing point in his excellent speech: many ships have been known
in modern times as well to have shipwrecked in Cephalonia, and specifically
in the southern Livatho region (Pessada) which is named Agios Sostis
(Saviour)! In contrast, there have been no such literal or other
accounts relating to Malta. This was confirmed by Mr. Stetcher'
s speech. A similar "account" for Malta could only be
a literary gimmick.
Mr Warnecke, once again, involved himself with the
interpretations of some significant definitions of the Praxeis
text, such as "harbour of Crete" being Phoenix
, which according to his astute observation it was not a harbour
in Crete but a nautical service point for Crete on the Messinian
Peninsula in the Peloponese. Professor Galitis had also made a statement
on this previously, while lecturer Chr. Karakolis at the Conference
covered this issue with interesting statements. Another significant
issue was the redefinition, amidst objections that had since risen,
of "in Andria"- the sea where Meliti is located
according to Luke the Evangelist's description. According to Mr.
Wernecke, this is yet another geographical indication that supports
the case for Cephalonia being Meliti. During the era of the Roman
Empire, the nautical term "Andrias" was used to exclusively
delineate the Adriatic Sea and the northeastern region of the Ionian
Sea. As a result, the western Greek islands were the only islands
belonging to the so-called "outer Andrias".
Malta, due to its location in the African sea, was
known as Melita Africana. In contrast, Cephalonia satisfies all
the prerequisites of the geographical location of Meliti as defined
in Praxeis. The same applies with regard to the topography
of the shipwreck location described in detail in Praxeis.
The entrance to Livadi gulf in southwestern Cephalonia complies
with the descriptions vis'a'vis the sea depth, the deep sea inlet
and the characteristic peninsula with reefs. Malta's topography
does not present any locations that correspond to these Praxeis
descriptions. Of, course, all issues developed in Mr. Warnecke's
dissertation had been discussed in the previous symposia as well.
Certainly, this was to the benefit of scientific research and knowledge,
since the last remaining doubts were eliminated as to the German
researcher's arguments and answers.
Amonst the Praxeis descriptions, two are crucial:
the name "Meliti" for Cephalonia and the description of
the island inhabitants encountered by the shipwrecked as "barbarians".
The peristence of some, especially Cephalonians, in not accepting
Mr. Warnecke's theory can be traced to these two issues, especially
the second - for obvious reasons. Of course, with no intention of
accusing anyone, I must observe that enough supplementary explanations
have been given for both points as far back as the 1993 Symposium,
as to expect all doubts to have been eliminated. But that is another
Mr. Warnecke supported the scientifically based position
that given the fact that only Cephalonia fits the descriptions regarding
St. Paul's shipwreck in their entirety, then, the the Apostles'
Praxeis provide an account that Cephalonia, or some part of the
island, was during a period of time called Meliti. For a historical
geographist this poses no problem since the majority of place names
have been mentioned only once and any location defined by a name
must be affirmed by taking the entire account in its correct context.
For example, we know through a single passage of Stravonas that
Samothraki was also at some point in time named Meliti. Perhaps,
future research will unveil more accounts that associate Cephalonia
with the name Meliti. After all, its is widely known that in 19th
century nautical language Mt. Aenos was called Melanitsa, Melan
Oros, Monte Nero etc. Furthermore, the region of Drapano at the
northern end of Argostoli Bay is commonly called Melikia. I have
supported the position that this name may come from "Melita"
or "Melitsia" which very easily is transformed to "Melikia"
by Greek pronunciation.
It's very significant that Mr. Warnecke presented
two new and important accounts: a literary one which provided the
"missing link" in his chain of arguments, and, a historical
one. As far as the first account is concerned, we note that with
references to the Odysssey it has been supported that the name "Meliti"
originally belonged to Cephalonia as Kalypso's Island . Homeric
researchers know Cephalonia was called "Militon" on an
account by Efstathios of Thessaloniki. The word is an obvious corruption
of "Meliti". This of course is not a strong argument for
the use of the name during the times of St. Paul but it does corroborate
the view regarding he vagueness in the use of names during antiquity.
This knowledge unfortunately is limited to experts only... The second
- historic - account comes from the Journeys of Henry Duke of
Saxony to the Holy Land in 1498. In the part of his journey's
account between Kerkyra (Corfu) and the Peloponese, we come upon
the phrase "South of Naxus island is Melitae, the location
of the famous shipwreck of St. Paul the Apostle, called Maltham".
During these times Naxus was the name of the Assos peninsula, evidenced
by the description from the fortress. The Journeys describe the
in between stopovers in correct order: Kerkyra - Assos - Melitae
- Peloponese. Melitae then, is located south of Assos and is none
other than the Lassi Peninsula (Argostoli). However, with the prevalence
of the Meliti-Malta identification, historians believed this information
to be in error and passed it off as an addendum. Mr. Wrnecke however
proves that this is the explanatory phrase "Quam Maltham
vocant", an observation that seems correct. It is consequently
yet another clear account that during the 15th century, "Meliti"
referred to a portion of the island of Cephalonia, the portion that
is characterized by intense geographical splitting.
Much simpler to explain today, after meticulous research,
is the use of the term "barbarians" to describe the inhabitants
of Meliti. The term is definitely not used to describe the cultural
development of the island. Rather, it is associated with local speech,
or language with pronunciation or accent that is not readily understood.
Greeks living in the northwest, including the western Greek islands,
have been referred to as "barbarians" by Greek writers
up to the New Testament era, due to their usage of a certain dialect
and pronunciation. (much like an Athenian today hears the differencaition
in the accents of people from Roumeli or the Eptanisa). The use
of the word "barbarians" in Praxeis 28,2 and 4 is elsewhere
corroborated in the same work (14,11: Apostle Paul to Korinthians:
"without seeing the power of speech, I seem a barbarian to
the congregation and they seem barbarians to me" ). Therefore,
the use of the word does not have a cultural connotation and thus
is not used demeaningly. Furthermore, the island inhabitants that
the shipwrecked must have first come upon were probably not the
island intellectuals but seamen, farmers, or even thieves. Their
spiritual development however must have been indeed high since they
provided such hospitality for the shipwrecked. The Greek physician
Lucas among the shipwreked, comprehended some phrases and the meaning
of what these "barbarians" were saying. The "barbarians"
spoke Greek but their dialect was hard to understand. Their Greek
identity as opposed to the Maltese, is also evidenced by the fact
that they worshipped "Diki" (Justice) a Greek Goddess
with no Roman counterpart.
All this points to the progress made at the Conference in overcoming
some of the problems and providing answers.
THE CONFERENCE (1999)
Conference had cross-scientific composition. Besides Mr. Warnecke,
the Conference was attended by Mr. Dieter Metzler Professor of Ancient
History at Munster University, and Mr. Wielfried Stencher Professor
of Nautical Science. The former meticulously reviewed the sources
of the accounts for the association of the name "Meliti"
with Cephalonia (or a region of Cephalonia), as well as the use
of the term "barbarians" for its inhabitants. Using a
different methology, he neverthless arrived at the same conclusions
as Mr. Warnecke. Mr. Stecher, relying on his knowledge and experience
as Captain of long-haul ships for over 40 years and Professor at
the Hamburg Nautical School, described St. Paul's journey arriving
at the conclusion that based on computer simulations, Cephalonia
is the only possible shipwreck location. The computer simulation
repeatetly pointed to a northwestern or northern direction from
Crete, never a western direction. Some simulations ended up right
Significant contributions were made by two Cephalonian participants
who have involved themselves with this issue: former Minister and
president of the Red Cross Gerasimos Apostolatos and, Mr. Theofrastos
Hartouliaris, a teacher. Mr Hartouliaris made an impression on the
participants with his well documented presentation of important
historical and traditional facts of Cephalonia that support Mr.
On the theology side, invitations to attend were extended to all
distinguished professors of the New Testament at Orthodox Theology
Schools. The following were able to attend:
Ierotheos, Archbishop of Vrochslav and Stetsin - dean of the Interfaith
Institute of Warsaw, the Reverend Professor Vasilios Mihoc, and
the Professor and Dean of Sofia University Mr. Ivan Dimitrov. All
are renowned New Testament experts. From the faculty of Greek Theological
Schools the Conference was attended by: 1. Athens University Professors
G. Galitis, C. Voulgaris, G. Patronos, Lucas Filis, and lecturers
C. Belezos and Ch. Karakolis and 2. Thessaloniki University Professors
I. Karavidopoulos, I. Galanis, P. Vasiliadis and Ch. Economou.
Invitations were extended to Roman Catholic theologists as well,
but they were unable to attend. His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch
was represented by the Reverend Professor Andreas Nanakis and Professor
The Conference was held in Argostoli's "Kefalos Theater while
the closing ceremonies took place in Lixouri's Town Hall. Present
was His Eminence Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos
who attended many of the functions as guest of the Metropolitan
of Cephalonia., The public was able to participate during the last
session in Argostoli (28/8). Reverend G. Metallinos was the Conference
The conclusion reached through the lengthy sessions of the Conference
as far as Mr. Warnecke's theory is concerned as well as the historical
documentation of chapters 27 and 28 of Praxeis, were stated succinctly
by Professor G. Galitis on closing: "Malta, of course not.
Cephalonia, probably yes".
An attempt was even made to define the general acceptance level
for the theory (80%). As Mr. Stecher observed in a subsequent letter,
since Malta is eliminated as a possibility, the remaining 20% in
doubt must be associated with another island as an alternative solution.
However, research and computer simulations have excluded such a
possibility. Nevertheless, we must take into account the laborious
way with which research and particualrly Orthodox Theological Science
moves, because the acceptance of a theory so revolutionary requires
indisputable truth as its foundation.
this point it must be noted that there are two churches in Cephalonia
that shout out St. Paul's connection to the island as far back as
Byzantine times. They are the only two chapels in western Greece
that are dedicated to St. Paul. These two Cephalonian churches,
in the absence of other folklore evidence, provide popular and even
ecclesiastic proof of Cephalonia's Apostolic Tradition. In my humble
opinion, the two churches in St. Paul's name are by themselves enough
to undisputedly document His association with Cephalonia. Their
locations are significant on their own. One was found in Pessada
where the shipwrecked Apostle must have had the headquarters of
his missionary activities. The other was found in Vatsa, on the
southern part of the Palliki peninsula, an ancient harbour for ships
departing for Italy. Both churches are monuments to the shipwreck
regardless of its exact location. An admirable initiative was undertaken
by the people of Pessada who decided to reconstruct the church of
St. Paul in the same area. The inaguration ceremony was performed
by His Eminence Archbishop of Athen and All Greece Christodoulos
on August 29th 1999 in the presence of island officials and a large
congregation. The Church of Cephalonia is thus established ecclesiastically
- with a large degree of certainty - as an Apostolic Church. For
this reason the Holy Synod entered the Church of Cephalonia into
the body of Apostolic Churches. During the year 2000 festive liturgies
were held in the Apostolic Churches in the presence of His Eminence.
The Head of the Church of Greece performed the sacred liturgy at
St. Gerasimos Convent on the day commemorating Cephalonia's Patron
Saint (October 20, 2000).
The Holy Synod was represented at the Cephalonia Conference by
the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Patras Nikodimos who addressed
the Conference. The sessions were attended by Metropolitans: Amvrosios
of Kalavryta and Aigialia, Panteleimon of Veroia and Naoussa, Alexandros
of Stavropigion, local officials, representatives of Cephalonian
Associations and other island organizations. One of the sessions
was attended by the visiting (then) Minister of national Education
and Religion Mr. Gerasimos Arsenis, who also addressed the Conference.
The impressions left by the Conference and the ecclesiastic
value from its sessions may be best summarized in the following
paragraph taken from a letter sent by His Eminenence the Archbishop
of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to the Most Reverend metropolitan
of cephalonia Spyridon, upon his departure from the island on August
"...Especially concerning the works of the
scientific Conference, I wish to congratulate you on the progress
made in the direction of searching for th truth, and to note that
the elimination of the island of Malta as biblical Meliti, is a
supreme prerequisite for focusing the efforts to proving that Cephalonia
is actually Meliti. Having lived the atmosphere of the Conference,
I believe that the admirable efforts of the specialized scientists,
encouraged by your examplary moral and material support, will bring
to a desirable end this scientific endeavor and will give us the
joy of classifying your local Church as Apostolic."