At 106 years of age, a Greek yiayia, or grandmother, named Anthi Katsouli stands in her yard every single day and prays for the entire world.
Born in the village of Katarraktis in the region of Arta in Epirus, Northwestern Greece, Katsouli has never left her beloved hometown, which is situated near the stunning Tzoumerka Mountains.
Tzoumerka, the mountain range found in northwestern Greece, features stunning limestone peaks rising into the sky east of the Acheloos River. It is surrounded by the main range of the Pindus mountains as well.
Greek yiayia prays for her fellow man each and every day
The Greek yiayia, who feels moved every morning by the beauty of her surroundings to pray for her fellow man, stands in her yard (which has an incredible view of the two waterfalls on the mountain) each day to do just that.
The former farmer and mother of three prays not only for her own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but for the whole world as well.
Yet recently, in a moment captured by her grandson Dimitris, and posted on his social media accounts, Anthi decided to pray indoors.
It was raining and the temperature had dropped significantly. Life in the village, which is located quite high on the mountain slopes, is quite difficult under these weather conditions.
Rather than stepping out into the cold, Anthi stood in her kitchen and opened a window to look out on the stunning mountain range before her.
When Dimitris asked his grandmother why she opened the window, she answered:
“So I can see God.”
As her grandson wrote, she has “all of the beauty of Greece in a body and soul that is 106 years old.”
Her grandson, Dimitris, spoke to Greek Reporter recently about his grandmother‘s strong faith and loving, generous nature.
Anthi, who lived through nearly all of the most important moments of the 20th century, is believed to have born in 1915, but she may actually be even older, as many people living in rural communities often did not record the birth of children immediately in those days.
The Greek yiayia lived through one of the most traumatic moments in Greece’s recent history, when the Germans invaded and occupied the country during the Second World War.
Nazi forces invaded and burned down her village — including her own house — and Anthi and many residents of the village of Katarraktis were forced to flee their beloved homes. Many of them sought shelter in homes and other buildings along the slopes of the Tzoumerka mountains, high above the village, where they secreted themselves from the enemy.
Although many people went back to their ancestral village shortly after, Anthi decided to remain up in the mountains for an extended period of time, as she was not sure whether the German troops had really left or not. She later returned to her beloved village, where she still lives today.
Yiayia’s wisdom: “Live a moderate life”
Her strong faith, which has always been a fundamental light through her life, has guided her through the most difficult moments.
After God, the most important things in life to the Greek yiayia are her family and her village, which her grandson says “she loves” and has never even thought of leaving.
“When anyone asks her if she will ever leave, she always replies ‘I was born here, and I will die here,’” he states.
Anthi is extremely independent, and highly active for her age. She still cooks and cleans for herself, but always has a helping hand from her children and other relatives who live nearby.
She loves reading, particularly religious books, and has become a bookworm throughout the years. Despite her age, Anthi is still sharp as ever, and remembers everything — from songs, to poems, to anecdotes and stories from her youth.
She is quick to impart her wisdom and faith to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
When asked what her advice to her grandson is, Dimitris states that she always hopes that he and his siblings have a “moderate life.”
“She doesn’t mean ‘moderate’ in terms of its quality, rather that we think of everything, measure everything, and don’t do anything superfluous or unnecessary,” he explains to Greek Reporter.
The Greek yiayia does not spend any time thinking about her age. Rather, she has trusted her life in God, and whenever she is asked how long she would like to live, she answers “For as long as God gives me.”