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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: “It is impossible to imagine our life in Constantinople without the Ecumenical Patriarchate”

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, which was celebrated on Thursday, 13 June 2024, in the festively decorated Holy Church of Hypsomatheia.

Before the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch performed the Sanctification Agiasmos Service for the inauguration of this recently and thoroughly renovated beautiful church, which was restored at the expense and care of the Metropolitan Municipality of Constantinople.

In attendance were His Eminence Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, Paxos and the Diapontian Islands, the clergy of his Metropolis and his lay collaborators, a group of pilgrims from the parish of St. Barbara of Ilion and the faithful of the city of Constantinople.

The Holy Sermon was preached by Archimandrite Kaisarios Chronis, Archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

After the dismissal, His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria and Supervisor of the Hypsomatheia region, addressed the Ecumenical Patriarch.

In his response, the Ecumenical Patriarch spoke about the significance of today’s feast, emphasising that “the Lord, having ascended into heaven, did not leave the world orphaned. He Himself is and will always be among us “until the end of time”, and He sent the Holy Spirit to remain in His Church and to guide it into all truth.”

In another part of his speech, he noted that “with the same certainty that we are not alone, but that the One who ascended from us in glory to heaven remains with us always, we continue the struggle of our lives as Greek Orthodox Christians of Constantinople, with courage, with love for all, with hope for a better tomorrow, with gratitude to God for all that He has given us, even for the possible sorrows and tribulations of life.”

He then thanked the community that gathered in this unique church of Constantinople, dedicated to the Divine Ascension, to venerate the Ascended Christ, six years after the last celebration in 2018, before the beginning of the necessary renovations.

Today, exactly seven years after our last Patriarchal Liturgy here in 2017, we have come to bless the reopening of this beautiful church, following the renovation work carried out thanks to the commendable initiative and loving care of the beloved and revered Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria. In addition to blessing the completed work, we also express the satisfaction of the Mother Church and our personal gratitude to all those who contributed morally and materially to the realisation of this significant project, both known and unknown, led by the Honorable Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Constantinople, Ekrem İmamoğlu. Thanks to his generosity, the Municipality undertook the very substantial cost of renovating the church, demonstrating in practice that the Queen of Cities is indeed a place of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, and support among religions and cultures. We warmly thank you, Mayor, as well as the technical teams of the Municipality, who worked with exemplary professionalism and commendable zeal to complete the renovation work.

We also congratulate the honorable Ecclesiastical Committee of the Community for its remarkable and praiseworthy work in this historic Holy Church. Finally, the Romiosyni of Constantinople are characterised by their love and care for the churches and holy places. The Church is the centre not only of the Orthodox Christian community but also of the entire life of the Greeks of Constantinople.

Can you imagine our life here, beloved children, without the Great Church of Christ, our Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Church of your community? It is impossible! And what hasn’t happened since the foundation of this Church of the Divine Ascension? How many upheavals has the whole world experienced? How many storms have the Church and the Greek Community faced? Indeed, there have been times when “we have been under great pressure, far beyond our ability to bear, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Yet here we are today, with resurrection joy in our hearts and hope for tomorrow, celebrating together a historic milestone in the life of a hard-working community of our Most Holy Archdiocese. Glory to God for all!”

The Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his Patriarchal satisfaction to the Metropolitan of Selyvria “for all his fruitful activity and especially for the organisation of today’s celebration”, and then warmly welcomed Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, and his distinguished entourage, as well as the pilgrims from the Holy Metropolis of Ilion, Acharnes, and Petroupolis.

Photographs: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate