August 15, 2011

Second Historic Divine Liturgy At Soumela Monastary

Nearly 2,500 pilgrims gathered today, 15 August 2011, at the historic Panagia Soumela Monastery to mark the second consecutive year in which the Turkish government allowed the Orthodox Christian faithful to celebrate the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos since its closure in 1922. Led by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 500 pilgrims from around the world were allowed within the Monastery for the Divine Liturgy while the remaining participants followed the Service on large screens outside the Monastery.

In the sermon, Patriarch Bartholomew especially focused on encouraging cooperation between Muslims and Christians in Turkey. He began the homily by thanking “our Muslim brothers,” the Turkish government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for allowing a second service at Soumela. He further stated that Mary has a special place for both Muslims and Christians, recalling a Koran verse which says: “And (remember) when the angels said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of the ‘Alamin' (mankind and jinns) (of her lifetime).” The Patriarch called for peace and brotherhood in Turkey and in the world during his speech.

“The peace that we long for is vital, in particular during these days. We cannot rid ourselves of the burden of the tragic events in Norway yet. There is ongoing bloodshed in neighboring countries. Mothers are crying in our country.... Let's make a call from the high Soumela Mountain, from the presence of the feet of the Virgin Mary -- who is above all women -- to all Christians and Muslims for us, for humanity and for our future. This call can be a single word: peace, peace, peace. Mutual respect and love should be our only prayer,” the Patriarch said.

Bartholomew also wished Muslims a happy Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. “May God accept your fasts,” he added.

“Having such a monastery in the Black Sea is a blessing, this is a place of God,” Bartholomew said, speaking to journalists after the Liturgy. “We are very glad to come here this year as well. We hope that we can do it again next year.”

More info and photos here: Προσκύνημα με ποικίλα μηνύματα στην Παναγία Σουμελά