The new year dawned in Cairo with the resounding chimes of our Orthodox Churches, summoning the faithful to partake in the inaugural Divine Liturgy of 2024, celebrating the memory of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea.
At the Holy Community Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Grand Ecclesiarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, Archimandrite Stephanos, presided over the first Divine Liturgy of the year alongside Archimandrite Joachim, accompanied by the melodious chants of Alexandros Rigakis, Protopsaltis of the Greek Community of Cairo.
The Divine Liturgy drew esteemed attendees, including the Greek Ambassador to Egypt, His Excellency Mr. Nikolaos Papageorgiou, and Mrs. Despina Tzova from the Embassy’s Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs, along with devout members of the community. Notably, Egyptians residing in Greece visited Cairo for a brief holiday and participated in the service.
In his sermon, Father Stephanos spoke about the eventful life, but also about the brilliant scope of the theological and social contributions of the Great Basil. An ecclesiastical man who, as Fr. Stephanos mentioned, was complemented with many spiritual gifts, with the hymn writer at the Vespers service wondering what to call him “Great theologian, philanthropist, ascetic, ecclesiastical writer, Great Father and teacher of our Church?”.
It is worth noting that in the centre of the Church there was also the sacred fragment from the skull of Saint Basil the Great that has been kept as a precious treasure for centuries in the Patriarchal vault in Hamzawi.
Fr. Stephanos encouraged humility in worship, entreating the Great Hierarch of our Church, St. Basil, to intercede for spiritual advancement among the faithful. Conveying the wishes and love of Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and All Africa, as well as Metropolitan Nikodimos of Memphis, he concluded his address.
The customary cutting of the Vasilopita followed the Divine Liturgy across Cairo’s Churches. During this traditional custom, Greek Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Nikolaos Papageorgiou extended New Year’s greetings, wishing everyone health, peace, and prosperity. He also conveyed the greetings of political and state leadership to the attendees.