Panagia Philanthropini, the Center for Social Advancement and Medical Prevention and Research, is in Northern Greece near the town of Ormylia, Chalkidike. Soon after founding the Sacred Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady in Ormylia, the Abbot, the Very Reverend Father Aimilianos envisioned the creation of a medical center that would relieve suffering and serve as a place of physical and spiritual healing and solace. His vision became reality with the assistance of the Hadjipateras family. Captain Ioannis Hadjipateras desired that a portion of his assets be used for charity.His wife, Maria and his five children, Konstantinos, Markos, Nikolaos, Pantelis and Aikaterini visited the Convent in 1981 and donated funds to begin the creation of the Center.
Surrounded by natural beauty in the middle of rolling hills and olive orchards, Panagia Philanthropini’s complex is an unassuming traditional monastic structure of more than 8,000 square meters, harmoniously combining Byzantine architecture and modern state of the art technology. The compound was constructed with respect for the natural environment while providing contemporary facilities for the service and comfort of modern human beings. The compound includes ample clinic space, 2 mammography units, a guest center, a modern multilingual conference center, advanced biological and electronic database, and a cutting-edge laboratory for medical and basic scientific research.
In the tradition of the Holy Mountain, the compound’s central focal point is the Church of Panagia Philanthropini, dedicated to Our Lady the Mother of God, and Ever Virgin Mary, “Philanthropini” (She Who Loves Mankind). The church was built with a donation by a Greek family living in Australia, members of which later became monastics. The Divine Liturgy, Holy Unction, vigils, and services of supplication to the All Holy Lady are frequently celebrated since prayer and the worship of Almighty God are integral parts of the ministry of the Center. Hundreds of names are commemorated at these worship services from people from all over the world who write to the Center asking for prayers.
In 1991, with a grant from the European Union, the Center started screening women for cervical cancer under the supervision of Dr. Athina Linos, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Athens. The department for the prevention of breast cancer was established in 1993, and in 1996 EFTA funded the purchase of the Center’s laboratory equipment, which also served as the core for the Art Diagnosis Center.
Two more landmarks in the Center’s history were the opening of the fully equipped Conference Center in 1993 and of the Vocational Training Center in 1994. The first conference hosted was the Preliminary Conference of the delegates of Orthodox Churches under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Since then conferences and training workshops have been held on a myriad of topics, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, and improving health care in the developing world.
From its inception the Center has sought to collaborate with premier medical centers from around the world so as to insure that the standardized medical service be of the highest quality possible. In the 1990s the European Union recognized Panagia Philanthropini as a European Union Center of Excellence and included Panagia Philanthropini in the networks for cervical and breast cancer. The Center continues to be a member of this European consortium and is a contributing author of the European Guidelines in both fields.
Beyond the European Union, the Center of Panagia Philanthropini is a member of the US National Institutes of Health International Cancer Screening Network, and also the Breast Health Global Initiative sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and M.D. Andersen Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.
The Center collaborates with numerous distinguished organizations such as the American College of Radiology; the Susan G. Komen “For the Cure” Breast Cancer Foundation; the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hellenic Aid Program; the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida; Karolinska University in Stockholm, Sweden; Leuven University in Belgium; the Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics – Institute of Radioisotopes & Radiodiagnostic Products; “Demokritos” at the National Centre of Scientific Research in Athens; and universities in Greece such as Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Crete.