On August 15, 2011, a group of several hundred faithful from Russia and other countries visited the old Panagia Soumela Monastery near Trabzon, Turkey.This trip was organized under a project for reviving the old tradition of Russian pilgrimages to holy places in Asia Minor. An agreement on this project was reached by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during the official visit of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Church of Constantinople in July 2009. This idea was also approved by Turkish Prime Minister R. T. Erdogan.
Since that visit, it was already the fifth pilgrimage to the shrines of old Trebizond. Participating in this pilgrimage were hundreds of believers from Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, USA and other countries. The Russian Orthodox faithful were led by Archbishop Panteleimon of Rostov and Yaroslavl.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who was assisted by bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox Church. Among the worshippers were bishops from Russia, USA and Greece. Present at the service were also State Duma deputy I. Savvidi, who personally participated in organizing the pilgrimages and divine services at the monastery, and Russian General Consul of Trabzon K. Fyodorov, as well as Turkish officials.
As the monastery courtyard could accommodate only about 500 worshippers, large plasma panels were installed outside the monastery for the rest to watch the service.
Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed the Russian Orthodox delegation and expressed hope that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia would be able in the future to visit the historic monastery and celebrate in it together with the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople.
The tradition of celebrations in the monastery was resumed on the Day of the Dormition last year for the first time after the monastery was closed in 1922. Pilgrimages of the faithful from Russia, Ukraine and other countries within the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate became possible as a result of agreements concluded between the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Trabzon administration.
DECR Communication Service