Monday, August 15, 2011

Panagia Soumela

Today the Orthodox Church commemorates the Dormition of the Mother of God. Due to this feast I thought of Panagia Soumela, known mainly as the Virgin Mary of a part of the Greek world, i.e. of Pontos. The monastery is located in the Trabzon Province, known also as Pontos, in modern Northern Turkey.

The monastery of Panagia Soumela is a holy, magical and mysterious place, both for the Orthodox and the Hellenic worlds. It is the historical, cultural and religious symbol and place which unites the Pontian Greeks. Even today it is considered a pilgrimage that many Orthodox wish to make. 

A very important fact is that last year on the 15th of August, for the first time since the end of World War II and the Greek-Turkish population exchange (1922), a Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. 

This was of course done after Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government accepted the request by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on this great feast day. 

It was an important moment for the Orthodox world, but mostly for the Pontian Greeks, who venerate Panagia Soumela (the Virgnin Mary of Soumela) tremendously. This is shown emphatically through the building of a monastery in Macedonia dedicated to Panagia Soumela, where her icon was brought by a priest from Athens.
Let us hope that one day this monastery will be restored to its previous glory, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate's jurisdiction, where the Divine Liturgy can be celebrated daily.    

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