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Greek Orthodox pilgrims gather at Sumela monastery, Turkey
Nearly 1,000 Orthodox Christians gathered for a historic service at Sümela Monastery in the Black Sea coastal province of Trabzon early Monday, marking the second religious ceremony held at the monastery in the history of the Turkish Republic.
The Divine Liturgy, held on the occasion of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos according to the Orthodox liturgical calendar (also known as the Assumption of Mary), was officiated by İstanbul-based Fener Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I. Pilgrims from Greece, Russia, Georgia and other countries traveled to the monastery, which currently serves as a museum.
Beginning the homily by saying “Our Muslim brothers,” Bartholomew thanked the Turkish government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for allowing a second service at Sümela. Stating that Mary has a special place for both Muslims and Christians, he recalled a Quran verse which says: “And (remember) when the angels said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of the ‘Alamin' (mankind and jinns) (of her lifetime),” the patriarch called for peace and brotherhood in Turkey and in the world during his speech.
“The peace that we long for is vital, in particular during these days. We cannot rid ourselves of the burden of the tragic events in Norway yet. There is ongoing bloodshed in neighboring countries. Mothers are crying in our country. … Let's make a call from the high Sümela Mountain, from the presence of the feet of the Virgin Mary -- who is above all women -- to all Christians and Muslims for us, for humanity and for our future. This call can be a single word: peace, peace, peace. Mutual respect and love should be our only prayer,” the patriarch said.
Bartholomew also wished Muslim a happy Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. “May God accept your fasts,” he added.
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