The relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle and the Holy Great Martyr Catherine were brought last week from Greece for the patronal feast of Pantocrator Monastery in Teleorman County in southern Romania. Before leaving for Greece, the Greek delegation visited the patriarchal residence bringing the relics to be venerated by the Patriarch of Romania.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to venerate the honorable head of Saint Thomas the Apostle and the hand of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine. The pilgrimage with these holy relics is an intensification of the joy of Holy Pascha in our country,” the Patriarch of Romania said on Tuesday, May 2.
The Patriarch thanked the delegation and added that this joy shows “the fraternal bond between our sister Orthodox Churches and between our peoples, Greek and Romanian.”
“It’s a great blessing. In a time of great uncertainty, it is proper to affirm the spiritual connection based on faith in Jesus Christ, the Conqueror of sin, violence, and death and the Giver of another life, the new, eternal, heavenly life.”
Patriarch Daniel said that the ties of the Romanian Orthodox Church with the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been maintained for centuries.
Living Orthodoxy together
The Patriarch referred to the recent exhumation of the relics of the Romanian Athonite Elders Dionisie Ignat and Petroniu Tănase, noting that these events also show the fraternal ties between the Romanian and Greek peoples and are a sign of “living Orthodoxy together.”
The Romanian Patriarchate requested the Ecumenical Patriarchate to canonize the two Romanian Elders because they were great confessors of the faith in Romania during the atheist communist regime.
In this context, His Beatitude recalled the intention to canonize twelve famous Romanian confessors during communism in 2025.
“This canonization will take place in 2025 on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, but also on the 140th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church and 100 years since the Romanian Orthodox Church was elevated to the rank of Patriarchate by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
“We have these fraternal ties that are expressed, especially in the sense of the people, at the level of pilgrimages. Pilgrimages to the relics of the saints bring joy to the common people, not only to theologians.”
A new monastery that quickly became popular
About Pantocrator Monastery in Teleorman County, Patriarch Daniel said that it is a newer monastic settlement and “rapidly gaining popularity” because Saint Mary Magdalene, an uncommon patron saint for the churches in Romania, protects it.
The Patriarch of Romania offered gifts to the Greek guests and awarded Metropolitan George of Katerini, through his delegate, the “Saint Andrew the Apostle” Order of the Romanian Patriarchate.
In turn, Patriarch Daniel received a crosier, icons, and other items as a gift.
Thousands of Romanians were on a pilgrimage to Pantocrator Monastery to honor the holy relics brought from Greece on April 28-May 2. The pilgrimage culminated on Sunday with the patronal Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan George of Kitros, Katerini, and Platamona, together with seven Romanian hierarchs.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Raluca-Emanuela Ene