Greek American World War II Refugee Leaves $600 Million Fortune to Charity

John L. Santikos was a young boy who fled to the United States immediately after the Nazi occupation of Greece and at the heels of the Greek Civil War. One year after his death, officials at the San Antonio Area Foundation have announced that the Greek immigrant has left an estimated gift of $605 million to charity.

Santikos, who built a movie theater and real estate empire in San Antonio, Texas, died in December 2014. Although memorial gifts were made to some charities immediately after his death, the full extent of his gift was made public at a press conference at the San Antonio Area Foundation on December 15, 2015– almost a year after his passing. The SAAF will manage the gift and donations based on Mr. Santikos’ wishes.

Included in Santikos’ will a year ago were immediate gifts to charities working in his native Greece, including a $500,000 gift to International Orthodox Christian Charities, which is using the money to offer food assistance to vulnerable families in Greece, “This valuation represents the largest gift in the 51-year history of the Area Foundation and is the largest single gift on record in San Antonio. Santikos gifted the bulk of his estate, including his theater and real estate businesses and raw land assets to the Area Foundation after careful research on the best method for establishing a legacy fund that could make significant annual donations beyond his lifetime. The donation will fulfill Santikos’ desire to support a wide range of charitable programs in the local area. It will more than triple the community Foundation’s asset size,” according to a statement by the San Antonio Area Foundation.

Although born and raised in Greece, Santikos’ story actually began in America with his father Louis, who first emigrated to the United States in 1911 from Greece. First settling in Waco, where he first worked in a grocery store, he noticed long lines of people who lined up every day to get into the Rex Theatre, a nickelodeon across the street. Sensing the opportunity, he saved his money and was able to buy the theater, beginning what would be a century-plus of involvement in movie theaters.

In 1918 Louis relocated to San Antonio where he began operating the Rialto Theatre, and eventually opening the Palace Theatre on Alamo Plaza – San Antonio’s first “movie palace” and the forerunner of the Majestic, Aztec and Texas theaters— the biggest and grandest theaters in the region.

Louis returned to Greece in 1925 where he met and married Toula Gatos and brought her back to San Antonio. In 1927, He sold most of his business interests in San Antonio and moved back to Athens, Greece where he became a successful film distributor and where John was born.

During the Nazi occupation of Greece, German Nazi officers took over the Santikos home in Athens, living upstairs while the family lived downstairs – a time of great tension and fear for the family. When the German occupation ended in 1944, the civil war broke out between Communists and British/American-supported forces. At one point, Louis Santikos and eldest son John fled the house just hours before Communist guerrillas arrived looking for them. The civil war lasted until 1949.

Fearing for his children’s safety, Louis sent John and then his sister Kiki and brother Dean back to San Antonio in 1946. John entered St. Mary’s University in 1947, taking academic courses and learning English at the same time. He earned his business degree in only two and a half years, during which time his father and mother eventually moved back to San Antonio, where he opened another theater— the Olmos Theater.

Following in his father’s footsteps, John joined his father at the Olmos, taking tickets, handling concessions and managing the theatre in all aspects, learning film booking, marketing – a practical education from his father and by hands-on experience. By 1958, John’s parents Louis and Toula decided to return to their native Greece, with John taking over the company in San Antonio.

John grew Santikos Theatres rapidly, purchasing and building theaters up through the Texas real estate downturn of 1987, when he sold all his theaters to Act III Theatres, owned by TV impresario Norman Lear.

Act III later sold all of its theaters – including those in San Antonio – to Regal Cinema. When Regal filed for bankruptcy in 2001, John Santikos was able to buy back all the San Antonio theaters he had originally sold to Act III.

Over the years, Santikos Theatres continually brought cutting edge cinema technology to San Antonio and Houston. From the first drive-in theaters and multiplex indoor theaters, to premium large screen formats with 4k digital projection, THX and Dolby Atmos sound systems, Santikos Theatres led the way in innovation. The innovation continues as Santikos Theatres was among the first cinemas in the country to install laser projection technology in early 2015.

Source: Pappaspost

Monumental Forgotten Gardens of Petra Rediscovered After 2,000 Years

In Petra, there is a huge 2,000-year-old pool. This waste of water is a sign of power in the desert. Archaeologists reveal the mosaics that were from the Apostle Paul’s era.

The excavations of the Philistine Gath has discovered similarities to the Cypriot cities. The 6,000-year-old fortress that was discovered in Jordan displays signs of an advanced early society.

The most recent excavation at Petra has unveiled an advanced irrigation system and water storage systems that helped the desert city civilization to survive. They were as well able to maintain a garden that included a huge swimming pool, ponds, and fountains.

The engineering achievements and other luxuries are clear evidence of the ancient Nabateen capital’s former glory and wealth around 2,000 years ago.

Ancient columns of the Great Temple Photo Credit

Petra is possibly best known for the sandstone canyon that goes directly to Al Khazneh.

This place was seen the the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where two hero archaeologists, played by Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, had ridden out of the canyon and into the Treasury with their quest for the Holy Grail.
Yet 2,000 years ago Petra was famous for different reasons.

It had been one of the most famous water stops in the Middle East where the camel caravan routes linked to distant cities. Now the archaeologists are finding the Nabataean capital located in southwestern deserts of Jordan.

It was once beautiful with a delicate, irrigated garden. It most likely featured paths that were shaded by date palms, grasses, trees, and vines next to a large 44-meter wide swimming pool.
The Nabataean’s capability to tame nature, and the consumption of the precious resource of water, was pure propaganda to display their wealth and power.

They were able to do this since they invented the clever hydraulic system that allowed the people to not only reserve enough water for their own requirements. It also had lavish gardens with fountains and a pool.

Water was very scarce in the desert waste – it was usually used for only necessity.
The ongoing diggings in Petra have unveiled a shaft that seems to have guided water more than 10 meters down for the artificial conveyance of water to the pool level.

The archaeologists have as well discovered underground channels that helped in controlling runoff during the rainy season.

View of the Royal Tombs in Petra Photo Credit

This reveals the true quality of the system for the very first time.

The very complicated system of channels, underground cisterns, ceramic pipelines, and water tanks that also filtered the water allowed the people of Petra to be able to cultivate crops, produce wine, harvest fruit, and manufacture olive oil.
They could as well create a lavish garden with a large pool in the middle of the desert. Several cities of the ancient world had rivers whose large waters nourished and protected them.

Yet for Petra, situated on the northwest border of the Arabian Desert, this city rose to importance because of their lack of water.
Petra was located at the middle of two important trade routes. One had linked the Red Sea with Damascus.

The other was linking the Persian Gulf with Gaza, located on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Another was linking caravans from the Gulf loaded with expensive cargoes of spices.

They had to cross the large wastes of the Arabian Desert, traveling for weeks before they would eventually arrive at the narrow canyon on Petra. This city was a sign of lodging and food and as well refreshing cool water.

The citizens of Petra did not provide these comforts to visitors with no charge. Besides paying for lodging and the food, they had to give gifts to the guards, the priests, the gatekeepers, and the king’s servants.

Yet the high prices of perfumes and spices kept the caravans coming and filled up the treasures of Petra.

The Theatre Photo Credit

The Paradise of Petra

The fact that this city had any gardens at all was a miracle – it only got 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) of rain a year (currently, with climate change, it might even get less).

Without the techniques they invented, purifying and pressurizing and creating the ability to store water, the city of Petra might have not even existed.

The people of Petra had carved out large areas of water, pools, and containers from the solid rocks.

They even had “tanks” that would purify water. Almost every drop of rain that had fallen around Petra was collected and then conserved. The springs had been channeled to pipes that were emptied into hundreds of containers carved underground.
This would ensure a reliable source of bathing and drinking water in the heart of the desert, despite the season.

Botanical studies have shown that the garden was highly decorated with complex patterns. The garden was adorned with grass species and palm trees. The archaeologists as well discovered nut shells and charred seeds.
The large swimming pool was larger than today’s normal Olympic pools. It was created around the 1st century BC. Pools started to become trendy in the region the previous century.

The Hasmonean rulers of Judah created pools that were surrounded by gardens at their palaces. The Hasmonean palace located in Jericho had around seven.
Herod the Great, who was the Roman vassal king of Judah, had continued the tradition. He created a large swimming pool with a sunken garden located in his third winter palace at Jericho.

The Herodian design included an island structure, decorative tiles, and a large garden terrace.

This was almost identical to the garden pool that was located in Petra.

Lonely cave Photo Credit

City carved in rock

The citizens of Petra did not only know how to work with water, they were as well masters at stonework.

The name Petra mean “Mass of Rock”; this summons the vision of stone. The city of Petra was made of stone, unlike any other city in the Roman World. The Nabataeans engraved their houses, temples, and tombs out of solid rock.

The red sandstone mountains where Petra had settled was perfectly suited for this, and by the first century BC a large city had emerged in the middle of the desert. Possibly the most stunning evidence of the Nabatean mastery over stone was the Treasury.

This was an imposing structure was that carved out of a huge cliff.

The structure had been named after the large stone urn that crowns the building; this had supposedly stored precious stone and gold. The urn was actually created out of solid stone. Although not what Steven Spielberg had portrayed in his movie, the structure did not guide into a deep maze that was hiding the Holy Grail.

General view of Petra Photo Credit

The Treasury actually was holding a relatively small hall that was once used as a royal tomb.

The city as well features tombs that were carved into the cliff face.

These tombs were so large that any person who wanders into them will end up venturing into their dark interiors, Haaretz reported. Petra had survived for centuries, though Rome took possession of the city in 106 BC.

The importance it once had in international trade started diminish.

The theater and colonnade testify to the Roman presence in the city during the first and second centuries. The Romans had developed sea lanes located to the East.

We have another archeology story for you: German Archaeologist and Businessman blew up entire 9 levels of Archaeological the remains of Historical Troy with Dynamite

Yet in time the overland spice trade had collapsed and Petra was abandoned slowly to the desert sands. It would ultimately fail to resist the end of the Byzantine Empire’s rule around 700 BC.

Map of Petra Source:Wikipedia/public domain

The hidden platform has become the center of attention at Petra. Even though the building is small in size, this beautifully carved monument shows astounding attention to detail.

It has been speculated that the ancient people responsible for the construction of the obelisk thrived during the era that Petra flourished as the unparalleled capital of the Nabataean kingdom. This means that its roots are likely to have been as early as mid-first-century BCE.

Petra was a crucial center of trade between East and West from the fifth century BC until the first century AD. As Greek and Roman civilization thrived, Petra became an important caravan center for Arabian incense, Chinese silks, and Indian spices.

Being stationed at the crossroads between the Arabian kingdoms, the Egyptian Empire, and the powerful Syrian civilizations, it is easy to see how Petra played a vital role in the history of economic development at a critical time in human history.

The monument further stressed that the ancient city of Petra thrived during the latter half of its existence from 500 BC to 300 AD. Most of the ruins which have been recently unearthed were built and used during the later ages of the city.


His Holiness Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem has responded to criticisms that restoring the Lord’s Sepulchre constitutes an invasion of a holy space and a sacrilege.

Speaking in an interview with the press service of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem he stated, “The fact is that restoration has been ongoing in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for many years already; the only part of the church that remained untouched was the Edicule, which therefore was in need of restoration, particularly of the burial cave of Christ, that is the Holy Sepulchre.”

He noted that restoration is being done on the entire complex, which therefore necessarily includes the very funeral bed of the Lord. Head of the restoration project Professor Antonia Moropoulou of the Athens Polytechnic University stated that the marble slab was removed to gain access to the historic masonry underneath which was swollen from decades of rainwater falling through a hole in the roof of the tomb. The walls were restored and water damage fixed.

The patriarch further noted that the corroded drainage system, dating to Ottoman times, is also to be restored in the future, to prevent further water damage to the Edicule.

Addressing circulating gossip of mysterious occurrences over Jerusalem—the blast of angels’ trumpets and supernatural phenomena in the sky—at the time of the opening of the Lord’s tomb, His Holiness denied such stories, saying, “This is nonsense. There were no such phenomena. Moreover, the Orthodox faith … is reasonable worship… Believers should not ask such questions—it is totally unacceptable.”

The patriarch also noted that work is moving according to schedule and they expect to celebrate Pascha 2017 at the Sepulchre.

Source: http://www.pravoslavie

%d bloggers like this: