On Sunday, November 25, 2018, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy concelebrated with Patriarch Daniel and the members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church on the occasion of the inauguration of the National Cathedral.
Over 50,000 people attended the Divine Liturgy
Concelebrants for the Divine Liturgy included His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patra, the members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, as well as other hierarchs.
Two thousand believers attended the service inside the cathedral and other 50,000 outside the building.
Also present were state and local officials including PM Viorica Dancila, the State Secretary for Religious Affairs Victor Opaschi and others.
Let us work for the edification and the sanctification of the living Church
In his homily delivered after the proclamation of the Gospel, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew pointed out the beauty and majesty of the new National Cathedral, also recalling the difficulties and the obstacles of the evil one that hindered its construction for over 100 years.
‘It is true that during certain stages of the untiring efforts made to build the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral there was the impression that its building was impossible,’ the Ecumenical Patriarch said.
‘But, you brothers, have had a steadfast and unshaken faith in God’s omnipotence and together-work.’
‘You had a fervent love for Him and His Church!’
‘You had a strong hope that the most powerful right hand of the Most High would certainly come to the aid of the sacred endeavours you have not renounced,’ His Holiness stressed.
The Patriarch of Constantinople noted that we are called ‘to work together for the edification, the completion, and the sanctification of the living, spiritual Church.’
‘Let us build with strong faith, repentance, spiritual struggle, virtues, good deeds, that are well-pleasing to God,’ His Holiness urged the faithful.
The Arsenal Hill turned into the Hill of Peace
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thanked God for ‘the blessing and grace poured out bounteously,’ adding that the Arsenal Hill where the Cathedral is located turned into the Hill of Peace.
‘Today, by the consecration of the Cathedral dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord and to Saint Andrew the First-Called, the Arsenal Hill, that is, the place where weapons were repaired and stored, turned into the Hill of Peace and Holiness, into the Hill of Grace and Blessing, not only for Bucharest, but for entire Romania,’ His Holiness said.
The Ecumenical Patriarch wished Patriarch Daniel, the hierarchs, the clergy, the state officials, and to all believers of the Romanian Church ‘many days, physical and spiritual health.’
‘Rejoice in the light of this Cathedral-lighthouse and always worship inside the Saviour and Liberator of our souls with worthiness, in Spirit and truth!’
Gifts and thanks
The Ecumenical Patriarch presented the Patriarch of Romania with an icon depicting the Ascension of the Lord, painted at Xenophotos Monastery of Mount Athos.
‘When you will see and bow down before this icon, may you feel the fervent love that we feel for Your Beatitude and we ask you to pray for the very troubled Mother Church of Constantinople, for the Ecumenical Patriarch, and for all those who together with him raise and carry the Cross of Christ, as Simon of Cyrene lifted and carried the cross on the path to Golgotha.’
In turn, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel presented His Holiness with a Byzantine icon depicting Saint Andrew, the spiritual protector of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as ‘a token of gratitude and appreciation for his presence in Bucharest.’
His Beatitude said the Ecumenical Patriarch is ‘our friend’ and that he is ‘very attentive to all the needs of the Church.’
‘We recall that we have a Romanian community in Istanbul, and through the benevolence of His Holiness, this community uses the Church of St Paraskeva the Martyr, which was first built by the Holy Ruler Prince and Martyr Constantine Brancoveanu.’
Next, the Patriarch of Romania offered Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patra a set of liturgical vessels ‘as a token of appreciation’ for bringing the honourable hand of Saint Andrew to Bucharest.
After stressing that Saint Andrew ‘spiritually connects’ Romania and Greece, the Metropolitan of Patra presented Patriarch Daniel with an icon depicting the crucifixion of St Andrew.
His Beatitude thanked for the gift and reminded that St Andrew’s honourable head came to Bucharest in 2011.
St Andrew has built the cathedral
He said that ‘St Andrew’s head helped us to plan beautifully this cathedral.’
‘Now his hand showed us the hand which made the Cathedral.’
‘Saint Andrew has built the Cathedral by using the skill of workers and iconographers.’
‘Saint Andrew helps us think and work spiritually and be missionaries of our times, following his example,’ the Patriarch said ending his speech.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, all Orthodox pilgrims will have access to the Cathedral on the very day of the consecration (Nov. 25), as well as the following days (Nov. 26-29), having the opportunity to enter and venerate the newly consecrated Holy Altar.
Sunday morning, the two Patriarchs officiated the consecration ceremony of the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral in Bucharest. The hierarchs consecrated the Holy Altar and blessed the mosaic iconostasis.
The Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral itself is a memorial built in honour of all those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom, unity and dignity of the Romanian people.
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