The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Vespers for the Feast of Saints Constantine and Helen in the church of the Community of Stavrodromi, on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Metropolitan Joachim of Prussia, Bishop Veniamin of Tralee, Archimandrite Peter, the Abbot of the Dionysios Monastery on Mount Athos, Apostolos Digbasanis, on behalf of the Consulate General of Greece, and a large number of faithful attended the service.
The Patriarch was welcomed by the Metropolitan Andreas of Saranda Ekklisies, Archpriest of the Community of Stavrodromi.
In his address, the Patriarch referred to the Apostles Saints Constantine and Helen, with whom, as he pointed out, Constantinople is inextricably linked.
“And today our Constantinople remembers, along with its name, the contribution of the two celebrated Saints to Christianity, Constantine’s campaign against Maxentius and the theosophy in heaven, during which Constantine saw the sign of the cross with the bright inscription “in this, conquer”. And indeed, with the cross and the monogram of the name of Christ as his banner, he defeated the threefold army of Maxentius, just as he later defeated his rival Licinius and became monocrat, and with Constantine, Christianity, which had hitherto been persecuted, also emerged victorious.
It is this message from heaven to Constantine the Great, that only with the cross we can achieve victories, bring us that today’s great feast. There is no Resurrection without the Cross. About a month ago we celebrated the rising of our Lord from the deads, but after having followed Him step by step in passion and on Calvary up to His death on the cross.
Let us not, therefore, be discouraged and disappointed when we are called upon in our lives to bear various crosses, tribulations and trials. This is the message we are sending tonight from Stavrodromi to the bereaved and tested children of the Mother Church in Ukraine. We can overcome all these difficulties and problems by faith in the power of the Cross of the Lord, by faith in His divine person, who “won the world” and by His voluntary death on the Cross defeated “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil”. History is written by the almighty divine right hand of the “Lord of hosts” and not by our human calculations and foolish statistics and analogies. Alas, if history was the work of man alone!”
The Patriarch, on the occasion of his presence in this solemn Church of the Community of Stavrodromi, officially welcomed its new Primate, Metropolitan Andreas of Saranda Ekklisies.
“Holy brother, the Mother Church, which raised you up in Christ and led you to the office of archpriest, seeking a suitable successor to the late brother Metropolitan of Tranupolis, Mr. Germanos, found him in the person of our beloved Priesthood. Bearing in mind your many years of experience and service in high administrative positions of the Patriarchal Court, such as those of the Great Archdeacon and the Great Protosyncellus, as well as the fulfillment of the duties entrusted to you with all devotion and feelings of ecclesiastical responsibility, we hope that, with the same sense of ecclesiastical responsibility, you will also carry out your new spiritual and pastoral work, in close cooperation with our worthy Assistant Bishop and your old colleague at the Patriarchal Court, Bishop Veniamin of Tralee, as well as with the honorable Curatorial Committee of the Community, chaired by the active and hard-working for the benefit of the Churches and the institutions of our Homogeny, George Papaliaris, which fully embodies and expresses the spirit and teaching of the Cross, namely love and self-sacrifice.”
He then referred to the late Metropolitan Germanos of Tranupolis, whom he described as a wise Hierarch, dedicated to defending the rights of the Mother Church.
“His example, however, of charity and humility, of his ever-present joyfulness and of the Christlike zeal with which he carried out his blessed and long-standing ministry to the pious people of God, remains an ever-living and bright beacon and a valuable guide not only for his successor, but also for all the young clergy of the Patriarchal Court, whom we paternally urge to have him as a model. We wish with all our hearts that the Lord may rest the soul of our apostate civil Prelate of the Throne, where the light of His face shines! May we all have his blessing!”
Then, he cordially welcomed the co-consecrated professors and students of the St. Peter’s Theological Seminary in Cetinje, Montenegro, who are visiting the Mother Church of Constantinople these days.
“In your person we greet the entire Holy Church of Serbia and we cordially embrace Its Primate, Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia. Our two Churches are united by sacred and indissoluble bonds, bonds of common faith and common struggles for it, and bonds of love, which, according to the Apostle Paul, “never fall away”.
We wish to congratulate you on your decision to study Sacred Literatures and to consecrate yourselves to the Church. You could not have chosen a more beautiful path and a holier mission. May the Paraclete always enlighten you and guide you in all truth, for the sake of our holy Orthodox Church and in furtherance of its great and saving mission in the world, having ‘your fruit to sanctification and your end to eternal life’ (Rom. f, 22)”.
The Patriarch also referred to the Concelebration of Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia and the Archbishop of Ohrid. He spoke of a great event which was rightly described as a “concelebration of reconciliation”, and which, as he said, took place just a few days after the historic decision taken by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to restore the Holy Church in Skopje to normality and Eucharistic communion, thus opening the way for its reconciliation with the Holy Church of Serbia. The Patriarch expressed the joy of the Church of Constantinople, mother of both the Church of Serbia and the Church of Skopje, for helping to restore peace and order in the Balkans.
After Vespers, the Patriarch had a meeting with a delegation of Ukrainian women from Mariupol, whose husbands are Ukrainian fighters who were trapped in Azovstal and are now, according to what they conveyed to the Patriarch, prisoners. The Patriarch expressed his sympathy and support to the five Ukrainian women, and to the entire hard-trying Ukrainian people, wishing God to help their husbands and all those in the same situation to end their ordeal soon, and to be reunited with their families.
Photos: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate