After several years of renovations and pandemic restrictions, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew returned to the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trabzon, Turkey, on Monday, August 15, 2022, for the Feast Day of the Dormition of the Theotokos.
Concelebrating the Divine Liturgy with His All-Holiness were Metropolitan Ambrosius of Argyroupoli, who is of Pontic descent, and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
Located high in the Pontic Mountains, the Panagia Soumela Monastery was founded nearly 1600 years ago.
“Here is the monastery which is the center of the heart of every Pontian, of every Greek, Pontian or not,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros in a statement following the liturgy.
“This is the place where we hear the whispers of the monks, the whispers of the hearts of all those who prayed here asking for the blessing of our Panagia, the Theotokos”, stated the Archbishop.
“This year, it was a special blessing that we had the opportunity to come with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who revived the old tradition to have a liturgy on the Feast Day of Panagia on August the fifteenth. We are happy as Greek Americans to be with him, and we promise that we will do this every year.”
In attendance were the Consul General of Greece to Constantinople, Georgia Soultanopoulou, who read the Creed during the service, and the Member of the Greek Parliament Savvas Anastasiadis.
The ordination of Deacon Epifanios also took place during the historic service.
Hailing from Ukraine, Epifanios was joined by his sister, who, “engaged in the defense of their homeland’s freedom,” secured special permission to attend her brother’s ordination, said the Ecumenical Patriarch in Sunday’s Homily for the Great Vespers of the Dormition.
The royal robe of the “heavenly queen” Theotokos is a “soothing comfort for our conflicts and divisions, and it is a healing protection for all those who are still suffering and dying in Ukraine”, stressed the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Photos: © GOARCH / Brittainy Newman