On the occasion of Patriarch Bartholomew’s namesday, Great Vespers was served on June 10 at the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Balikli. The service was presided by Patriarch Bartholomew, in the presence of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, of the primate of the new autocephalous Church of Ukraine, Epifaniy, of a large number of hierarchs, clerics, and archons. Were also present Georgia Soultanopoulou, the Consul General of Greece in Istanbul; Consul Georgios Gaitanis; Oleksandr Gaman, the Consul General of Ukraine in Istanbul; Hasan Baltaci and Ismet Tokdemir, deputies of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and faithful from Constantinople and abroad.
In his address, Patriarch Bartholomew thanked God for giving him for the 28th occasion, the opportunity to celebrate his feast day, at the historic monastery of the Life-Giving Spring.
Addressing Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, the Patriarch said, “We have the joy and honor of the presence of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece’s presence. He has thus kindly accepted to add a link to the chain that binds our two churches and to increase the joy of our feast day this year. Your Beatitude, we gratefully thank you, you and your honorable and beloved following, and because your high duties require you to return promptly to your home, we show you out with honor and fraternal love, wishing to meet you again soon.”
Then addressing Metropolitan Epifaniy, the primate of the new autocephalous Church of Ukraine, the Patriarch said, “And now we address you, Your Beatitude Bishop Epifaniy of Kyiv and all Ukraine, who kindly accepted to honor the feast of our name in person. We are grateful to you. In recent times, you and we are at the center of processes, decisions, changes, of a new structuring of Orthodox realities, but also of challenges, attacks, slanders, and great alterations of the truth and reality. We answer, “Know the truth and it will free you”. “No lie can stand the test of time”. So do not worry, Your Beatitude, our Brother. “There is nothing weaker than lies, and nothing stronger than the truth,” as the saint with the golden mouth [St. John Chrysostom] would say. Truth about Ukraine, its Church, and what is going on there will shine and vanquish. From your Mother Church the Ecumenical Patriarchate, you have received autocephaly and the freedom of internal self-administration. According to Professor Pheidas, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the perennial guarantor of the canonical order in the Orthodox Church. And according to Professor Tarnanidis, it is the continuator, the expression and the interpretation of the pure Orthodox tradition. Therefore, you know what you have asked here, what you have been wanting for centuries, and this Church here, which has the first throne and the first responsibility, knows what it has given you and why: what you were entitled to acquire, and what was its own right, namely an exclusive right to grant it to you – as it did to those who asked for it and received it from us, and today turn against their benefactor.
In his turn, Metropolitan Epifaniy said, “I came with my associates in the Lord to wish you “many years! “, to see your luminous person, to gather strength in order to continue our fight in the Church. We have come to the imperial city of Constantinople to renew ourselves in common prayer with the first in Orthodoxy, the benefactor of the Ukrainian people, the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is celebrating tonight the memory of his patron Saint Bartholomew. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Patriarch Bartholomew, that is to say you, have shown an apostolic zeal in all the years of your pastorship. You have courage in your soul, you fight for the rights of the great Church of Christ, and this zeal is an example and a model for us the youngest in the Church”.
Then addressing Archbishop Ieronymos, Metropolitan Epifaniy said, in Greek: “Your Beatitude, I have learned with great joy that you would be here tonight, and I was waiting to be myself in Constantinople to meet your honorable person. The person of the Archpastor of Athens, the hierarch who loves and respects the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the pillar of his rights. In your person, I greet the entire hierarchy of the Orthodox Church of Greece, and I await the honor and joy to concelebrate with you”.
At the end of his address, Metropolitan Epifaniy presented Archbishop Ieronymos with an encolpion.
Archbishop Ieronymos was accompanied by Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, Metropolitan David of Grevena, Bishop Symeon of Thespiae, and Archimandrite Philotheos Theocharis, the Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.
Archbishop Ieronymos thanked Metropolitan Epifaniy for the encolpion, without making any declaration, and left in the evening for Athens, where he was to receive the Pope and Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria on the following day.
On Tuesday June 11, the Divine Liturgy was served at St. George’s Cathedral, at the Phanar. It was celebrated by Archimandrite Andreas, the Grand Chancellor of the Patriarchate. Patriarch Bartholomew presided on his throne, in the presence of Metropolitan Epifaniy and many hierarchs, priests and faithful who came on the occasion of this feast day.
Metropolitan Constantine of Nicea read the namesday greetings. At the Liturgy were also present Vasyl Bodnar, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, and Andriy Sibiga, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey.
You can watch excerpts of the ceremony here.