After several years of renovations and pandemic restrictions, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew returned to the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trabzon, Turkey, on Monday, August 16, 2022, for the Feast Day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Concelebrating the Divine Liturgy with His All-Holiness were His Grace Bishop Ambrosios of Argyroupoli, who is of Pontic descent, and His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
Located high in the Pontic Mountains, the Panagia Soumela Monastery was founded nearly 1600 years ago. “This is the place where we hear the whispers of the monks, the whispers of the hearts of all those who prayed here asking for the blessing of our Panagia, the Theotokos,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros in a statement following the liturgy.
“This year, it was a special blessing that we had the opportunity to come with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who revived the old tradition to have a liturgy on the Feast Day of Panagia on August the fifteenth. We are happy as Greek Americans to be with him, and we promise that we will do this every year.” His Eminence expressed his hope that this become a tradition for the Omogeneia in the future.
In attendance was Member of the Greek Parliament Savvas Anastasiadis, as well as Consul General of Greece to Istanbul Georgia Soultanopoulou, who read the Creed during the service.
The ordination of Deacon Epifanios also took place during the historic service. Hailing from Ukraine, Epifanios was joined by his father, who, “engaged in the defense of their homeland’s freedom,” secured special permission to attend his son’s ordination, said the Ecumenical Patriarch in Sunday’s Homily for the Great Vespers of the Dormition. The royal robe of the “heavenly queen” Theotokos is a “soothing comfort for our conflicts and divisions, and it is a healing protection for all those who are still suffering and dying in Ukraine.”