Ankara, Turkey, July 26, 2023
Turkish authorities have reversed their earlier decision and are now allowing Patriarch Bartholomew to celebrate the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God at the ancient Panagia Sumela Monastery on August 15.
Last week, the Patriarchate announced that permission had been denied, although the Patriarch has served there several times in recent years.
But yesterday, the Patriarchate published a new statement:
We are happy to announce that following a recent decision by the Turkish authorities, permission was granted to hold a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (August 15) at the Monastery of Panagia Sumela.
For centuries, the cliff-side Panagia Sumela Monastery in the Black Sea city served as the cradle of Pontian Hellenism. After 88 years of banning access to the site, Turkey reopened it on August 15, 2010, and a new tradition of Patriarch Bartholomew celebrating the monastery’s patronal feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos began.
However, the monastery was closed for restoration in September 2015, and the Patriarch was not permitted to serve throughout the restoration process, which mostly addressed the stability of the cliff.
A series of mini-inaugurations successively opened more sections of the monastery. It was opened up through the first courtyard in May 2019, and in July 2020, 65% of the monastery was opened to the public and the Divine Liturgy was celebrated again on Dormition that year.
The monastery fully reopened to the public in May 2022, and Pat. Bartholomew and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America celebrated the feast of Dormition there that August.