We arrived as seekers and left as knights.
The Grecian sun greeted me warmly, its rays casting shadows over the colossal rock formations of Meteora. These geological giants have stood the test of time, much like the stories of the lineage I was tracing. As I wandered through the ancient monasteries perched atop these stones, a deep reverence for the past washed over me. Each step was a step back in time, a step closer to understanding the essence of humanity, of connection, of roots that had been obscured by the sands of time.
My heart pulsed with an anticipation of reunions and revelations. Through the rugged terrains of Meteora, where nature's architecture paid homage to divinity, I journeyed with an inner quest. Alone on these winding paths, thoughts of my daughters – Jane, with her blossoming wisdom of 14 years, and AliX, with her vibrant curiosity at 11 – were the compass guiding my steps. The magnetic pull of family, both present and past, was never stronger.
From these ethereal heights, I descended to the majestic slopes of Olympus. The home of the gods, it whispered tales of might and myth, of legacies that shaped cultures and civilizations. But beyond the myths, it was a reminder of the boundless spirit of exploration and the quest for understanding that has been a hallmark of humanity.
My journey then took me westward to the vibrant port city of Patras, where the mingling of the Ionian and Mediterranean seas spoke of countless journeys, of explorers and adventurers who once set sail to unknown lands, seeking their destiny. It felt like a harbinger of the journey I was about to embark on, to Rhodes, the island that bore my namesake. The island, echoing the rich tones of history, was more than a mere stop on my journey. It was the crucible where the past met the present.
As the island's shores emerged on the horizon, my thoughts turned to my father, Bruno, a torchbearer of our lineage, awaiting my arrival along with my daughters. The joy of seeing them, the culmination of solo travels and ancestral stories, was overwhelming. But Rhodes held more than just familial reunions. Here, in its cobbled streets and ancient ramparts, we unearthed a profound truth: our lineage bore the mark of the Knights of Rhodes. This realization was transformative. It was as if a veil had been lifted, revealing not just a chapter, but volumes of our family's saga, tales of valor, and a legacy steeped in honor, freedom, and benevolence.
Our tale begins in the 11th century, in the Holy City of Jerusalem, where the Knights Hospitaller was founded. Among the founding knights was a man named Ezra, who devoted his life to providing care for pilgrims and the sick, true to the mission of the Order.
As the First Crusade ended, Ezra and his fellow knights were forced to take arms to defend the Holy Land. Their presence became a beacon of hope for the faithful, and as the course of history shifted, and the knights were compelled to move their base to the coastal city of Acre. It was here that Ezra's son, Isaac, distinguished himself through valor and kindness. Despite the tumultuous circumstances, Isaac held onto the core values of the Order, living a life of service and courage.
The fall of Acre in 1291 led the knights to retreat in the island of Cyprus. Isaac, like his father, was now a prominent figure in the Order. His leadership and seafaring skills were crucial during this transition. However, Cyprus was not to be their home for long.
In 1309, Isaac's son, Barnabas, led the Order to the island of Rhodes. Here, the knights became a sovereign entity, defending the Eastern Mediterranean against Ottoman incursions for nearly 200 years. Alas, upon the fall of Rhodes in 1522, the Knights Hospitaller were offered the island of Malta, where they would continue their legacy. However, Barnabas' great great grand son, Leandros, took a different path. Driven by his love for Isabella, a woman from Southern Italy, Leandros relocated to her homeland, sailing across the Mediterranean, as far as any Rodi Knight had ever done.
Today their descendants carry on their legacy, exploring the world as far beyond and deep within as their bodies and minds will take them, in the name of freedom, justice, and good will. From the holy city of Jerusalem, through the challenges of Acre, the island of Cyprus, and the strongholds of Rhodes, the spirit of the Knight is alive and well in the Rodi clan.
Our narrative had begun in the quaint alleys of Quebec, drawing from the wellsprings of my mother's heritage. It had coursed through the rustic charm of Calabria, echoing my father's roots. And now, in the embrace of Rhodes, it spiralled further back, to the valiant times of the Knights Hospitaller and their epochal journey from the sacred soils of Jerusalem. It was a revelation that melded our past and present, unveiling a heritage that transcended timelines and geographies.
Yet, as we reveled in the depths of our historical findings, an urge took root. Before venturing further back in time, it was imperative to journey ahead – to the lands that now cradled our present and future. Our homeland, Canada, beckoned with its expansive landscapes and diverse narratives. A need arose to see it anew, unfettered by biases, to truly understand where the Rodi legacy would take root in the coming generations. This perspective shift, a sort of "Decolonizing Landscapes", would be our ode to the present, even as we celebrated the past.
Through our evolving trilogy, from "Sources" to "Pilgrimage", culminating in "Knights", an awakening dawned: the paths we had traversed were merely the opening chapters of an epic still unfolding. Rather than an end, we found a beginning. Our sojourn in Greece transcended the mere tracing of ancestral lines, morphing into a vibrant tapestry where honor, freedom, and benevolence wove their ageless narratives. Amidst the echoes of crusades and the valor of the Knights Hospitaller, we danced a dance intimate with family ties and knightly spirit, celebrating the eternal flame of the Rodi lineage—a flame reignited with each day's dawning and twilight. Our compass now points to Canada, eager to perceive it through the lens of its indigenous custodians.