Itaipava, Brazil, March 30, 2021
On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, land was solemnly blessed for the future construction of a monastery in honor of the great feast in Itaipava, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
With the blessing of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, His Grace Bishop Theodore (El Ghandour) of Apamea, the Patriarchal Vicar of Rio de Janeiro, together with Fr. Nicolau Cristo and Deacon Nectarios Bechara, celebrated the rite of the blessing of water and blessed the plot with the Holy Water, reports the Antiochian Patriarchate.
The 7-acre plot of land was donated by an Orthodox family. Three olive trees were also planted as a symbol of peace and blessing.
The service was also attended by representatives of the local Orthodox Women’s Association and the Board of Directors of the Commission.
According to the site of the Antiochian Archdiocese of São Paulo and All Brazil, Orthodox Syrians and Lebanese began to immigrate to South America in 1860 to escape persecutions from the Ottoman Empire. They were present in Brazil from at least 1897. The first church was built in São Paulo in 1904, and a bishop was consecrated for Brazil in 1922. The Archdiocese currently lists 18 parishes within its jurisdiction in addition to the cathedral in São Paulo.
The Antiochian Patriarchate also recently acquired a property in Blankenheim, Germany, that it is converting into a multi-use complex for spiritual retreats, theological and clergy symposiums, and the site of the first Antiochian monastery in Europe.