On the weekend of April 22-23, 2023, the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia celebrated the feast of the Great Martyr St. George the Trophy-Bearer, patron saint of the Metropolis Cathedral in Stockholm, which bears his name.
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 22nd, the service of Great Vespers was held with Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia presiding in chorostasia and assisted by the Archimandrites Frs. Bartholomew Iatridis and Alexandros Loukatos, parish priests of the Cathedral in Stockholm and Metropolitan Church in Oslo, respectively.
The evening’s sermon was delivered by Fr. Alexandros, who drew a parallel between Christ’s Passion and the martyrdom experienced by many saints of the Church, including St. George, noting that the cross they bore ended not in death, but rather, in the Resurrection.
On the day of the feast, April 23rd, the Sunday of St. Thomas, the archieratical Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Cathedral, presided over by Metropolitan Cleopas, who was assisted by the aforementioned clergymen.
The hymns of the day were masterfully chanted by the head chanter of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo Panagiotis Katsivalis and the members of the Stockholm Cathedral Byzantine choir.
In his sermon, the Metropolitan noted that St. George confessed his faith to Christ before the Roman emperor without reservation and rebuked him for his brutality toward Christians and for following the false religion of idol worship. Metropolitan Cleopas also called on the faithful to emulate St. George’s Christ-like life, his struggle on behalf of the faith, his belief, and his testimony.
The celebrations concluded with a paschal concert performed by the Stockholm Cathedral Youth, which was divided into two parts – the first dedicated to Holy Easter and the second to the feast of St. George.
The concert featured the following songs and hymns: Christos Anesti/Christ is Risen, Pascha ton Ellinon, Ton Golgotha Sou Min Fovasai, Ayioi, Ayior, Ayior Afendi Mou (Traditional Song from Capadocia), and Ay Yorkou (Traditional Song from Cyprus).
Among those performing were Niki Throumbari (keyboard & guitar), Iliana Antoniou (drums), Isaak William Erik Karl Isaksson (violin), Ioanna Demosthenous (keyboard), Georgios Dougas (vocals), Konstantinos Pantekidis (vocals), Elpis Rerra (vocals), Evangelos Kazantzidis (vocals).
The Ambassador of Greece to Sweden Andreas Fryganas was on hand at the archieratical Divine Liturgy, along with local government representatives, and many faithful from Stockholm, Uppsala, and Oslo.
The holy services and concert were streamed live via the Metropolis’ Facebook page, courtesy of Mr. Nikolaos Kitsios.
Finally, Metropolitan Cleopas thanked Fr. Alexandros and Mr. Katsivalis for undertaking to travel to Stockholm, along with parishioners from the Metropolitan Church of Oslo, to attend the feast of the Stockholm Cathedral. He also thanked Fr. Bartholomew and members of the youth for preparing the Cathedral for its feast day and presenting the paschal concert, as well as Mr. Nikolaos Kitsios for the technical support he provided.
A reception for the entire congregation followed at the Museum of Hellenic Christian Heritage courtesy of the Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Cathedral and Mdmes Fotini Batsela, Vaia Kitsiou, and Olga Karapanagitidou.
Photo credit: Holy Metropolis of Sweden, Nikolaos Kitsios and Konstantinos Paschalides