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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: “We seek Saint Helen’s intercession for peace in the Middle East and Ukraine”

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Great Vespers on Monday afternoon, 20 May 2024, for the feast day of Saints Constantine and Helen, at the Church of the Great Community of Stavrodromi.

Metropolitans Hilarion of Winnipeg and Yevstratiy of Bila Tserkva, Bishop Avraamios of Borispil, as well as the Dean of the Theological School of the Holy Cross in Boston, Protopresbyter Eugene Pentiuc, with a group of teachers and students, Ambassador His Excellency Mr. Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece in Constantinople, as well as believers from Constantinople, also attended the service.

His Eminence Metropolitan Andreas of Forty Churches, Hierarchical Head of the Community of Stavrodromi, welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The Ecumenical Patriarch addressed the significance of the feast of Saints Constantine and Helen, stating:

“Today’s feast directs our thoughts and hearts to the Holy Land, to the churches and pilgrimage sites established by Saint Helen. These sites are so numerous and significant that they merit being called ‘Great.’ Even without such a title, Saint Helen is revered by all Christians for the son she gave to the Church and for her Christian virtue. We seek her intercession for a swift ceasefire in the troubled Middle East, a region deeply connected to her life and work, and for the equally tormented Ukraine.

We also call upon the power of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, which unites Saint Helen and her holy son in all their icons. What a profound blessing it would be if the Holy Cross were central in every Christian family, and if the teachings and messages of the Cross—love and self-sacrifice—became daily experiences for all family members.

Truly, without love and a spirit of sacrifice and offering, nothing good can be accomplished in the world. In particular, the establishment, preservation, and promotion of our holy churches and charitable institutions in the Diaspora are due to the zeal, love for the community, and sacrificial disposition of those who manage community affairs. This is especially evident in our Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople, which exemplifies community organisations and social action, preserving and enhancing our inherited traditions with dedication and pride.”

In another part of his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch warmly welcomed the professors and students from the Holy Cross Theological School, who are visiting the Mother Church of Constantinople this week as part of the significant program “The Pilgrimage of Saint Helen.” Leading the group is the new Dean of the School, Reverend Protopresbyter and distinguished Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Father Eugene Pentiuc.

In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his gratitude to Metropolitan Andreas of Forty Churches for his sacred zeal, love, and unwavering dedication to the Christians in this region. He also extended his paternal praise to the holy clergy and the Ephorate Committee of the Community, led by the Honourable George Papaliaris, who has devoted himself sacrificially to the rights and interests of our Diaspora. Additionally, he acknowledged all the supporters of the Community’s work, where the spirit and teachings of the Cross are embodied and expressed.

Photographs: Nikos Papachristou

Source: Ecumenical Patriarchate