TRIGLIA, Turkey – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiated during the Divine Liturgy held on January 19 at the St. Vasilios church in Triglia of Asia Minor, which belongs to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Bursa.
It was an historic occasion, the first time in the 97 years since the Asia Minor Catastrophe that the tradition of the blessing of the waters and the tossing of the holy cross into the sea took place in Triglia. The event was organized after the Patriarch received special permission from the local Turkish Authorities.
The celebration was scheduled in accordance with the Julian calendar and it was organized by Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, who is also Abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Halki which houses the historic theological school. He is also professor at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece.
Patriarch Bartholomew was joined by co-celebrants Metropolitan Elpidophoros, Bishop Andrianos of Allikarnassos, and priests from Constantinople and Greece. The ceremonies were well attended, with many hundreds coming from Constantinople, New Triglia in Halkidiki, and Rafina in Greece. The nave of the St. Basil Church was renovated by the local Turkish Mayoral Authorities and it is used as Cultural Center.
Patriarch Bartholomew in his homily said among other things that “we glorify the merciful God who enabled us to offer the Divine Liturgy of the Epiphany and also the blessings of the waters here in historic Triglia.”
The Patriarch added that, “St. Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea, the symbol of sacrificial love for humanity and of organized philanthropy and social care, concelebrates the Liturgy with us today. The souls of our ancestors are happy today. They all are here on this celebratory day.”
The Patriarch congratulated Metropolitan Elpidophoros “for taking the initiative for the celebration. We encourage and bless his ecclesiastical, pastoral, theological, and literary work.”
When the Patriarch tossed the holy cross into the waters of Triglia, many young people from Orestiada, Volos, New Triglia, and also from Ukraine dived in the cold sea to retrieve it.