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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios Make Pilgrimage to Panagia Soumela in Pontos

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Aug 17, 2011

NEW YORK – Monday August 15, the Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos, was a very special and spiritually uplifting day for His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and the thousands of people, clergy and laity from all over the world, who participated in the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in the historic monastery of Panagia Soumela near Trapezounta.

It was the second time for such a liturgy, since only last year (2010) on the same day and after 88 years of liturgical silence in Panagia Soumela, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided at the first historic liturgy following the permission given to the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the Turkish authorities.

This year, His All Holiness invited Archbishop Demetrios of America and two clergymen of Pontian ancestry from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, and Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos, to take part in the pilgrimage to Panagia Soumela, which according to tradition was established, in 386 A.D. by the Athenian monks Barnabas and Sofronios on the steep cliffs of Mount Melas, south of the city of Trapezounta (Trabzon) and has been for 16 centuries the symbol of the Hellenism of Pontos.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Barnabas of Neapolis and Stavropolis from the Thessaloniki area. Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos also took part in the liturgy.

Also present at the Liturgy were Metropolitans Ignatius of Dimitriados, Pavlos of Drama, Archbishop Panteleimon of Yaroslavl and Rostov, who led the Russian delegation and Bishop Andonios of Phasiane from the United States.

Many hundreds of pilgrims from Russia, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Australia and America attended the liturgy inside the monastery and many more, who could not fit inside, were able to follow the liturgy through a giant screen outside of the monastery compound. The liturgy was broadcast live through the Greek television channel ET-3 and worldwide via satellite through ERT-World. It was covered widely by Turkish and international media.

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More Event Photos - Photos by © D. Panagos/GOA

His All Holiness answering questions for the Turkish network NTV and referring to properties of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, expressed his hope that “those properties that were taken illegally will be returned as soon as possible to their rightful owners,” and he said that if that does not happen “we will turn to the European Court.” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also expressed sadness because the Theological School of Halki has not yet been allowed to re-open. “Halki has been closed for 40 years. Even though the Turkish government has given us hope, unfortunately it still remains closed,” said the Patriarch.

The next day, August 16, Patriarch Bartholomew accompanied by Archbishop Demetrios and the other clergymen visited the monastery of St. John the Baptist, (now in ruins) which is the oldest one in Pontos. It is known as the Vazelon Monastery, located in the village Matsouka, 40 kilometers south of Trabzon, it was first built in 270 A.D. His All Holiness also visited the nearby monastery of St. George which dates back to 752 A.D.

photos of the pilgrimage can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orthodoxnews/

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Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Tel.:  212-570-3530
Email:  pressoffice@goarch.org

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