15,000 join in Orthodox ecumenical liturgy at historic Turkish monastery
August 16, 2010
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople celebrated the Divine Liturgy for a congregation of 15,000 people—including Orthodox pilgrims from Russia, Romania, and other countries—at the ancient monastery of Our Lady of Sumela. The monastery was destroyed by Ataturk’s followers in 1922, and finally rebuilt in the 1990s. The Turkish government’s willingness to allow the celebrations, after years of discouraging such an ecumenical gathering, was seen by the Orthodox as a major advance—although perhaps a temporary one, in light of Turkey’s bid for acceptance in the European Union.