Pretoria - The Pope and Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa: Theodoris II on Sunday bestowed President Jacob Zuma with the highest honour the church can give to a foreign national.
Paying a courtesy call to Zuma while doing church work, Theodoris II bestowed Zuma with the Order of Saint Mark.
“With this I give you great blessing,” Theodoris II said speaking through an interpreter as he handed Zuma a personal cross and a certificate.
Zuma embraced Theodoris II and his delegation and said the gesture was unexpected.
“Thank you very much for this honour. I thought it was just a visit. I did not know that there was a surprise,” Zuma said.
“We appreciate your visit. We believe that you have brought blessings to our country and we are very happy.”
It was the first time that the order was bestowed on a South African.
The meeting, arranged by the international relations and cooperation department, was for Theodoris II to tell Zuma about the work Greek South Africans were doing in the country.
Zuma said the Greek community had also made a big contribution to develop South Africa.
“We believe that the spirit that made you come here will remain with us and give us strength,” Zuma said.
Theodoris II blessed South Africans and prayed for peace.
“I bless the people of South Africa and I bless you the president of South Africa,” he said.
Zuma was flanked by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and a delegation from the international relations and cooperation department.
He welcomed Theodoris II to his official residence Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria shortly after 3pm.
“Thank you very much. We are very happy that you are here,” Zuma said as he welcomed the delegation.
Theodoris II thanked Zuma for the way he received them and said he was glad to be there.
Zuma and his delegation sat at one side of the large table with Theodoris II and his delegation on the opposite side.