Historic Orthodox Liturgy at ancient monastery in Turkey

Orthodox Christians from around the world attended a rare Liturgy at an ancient monastery in Turkey. The spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew I, conducted the service at the Sumela monastery in Trabzon province, north-eastern Turkey. At least 1,500 pilgrims, including people from Greece and Russia, traveled to the Byzantine-era monastery. The service was the first Greek Orthodox Liturgy to be held at the shrine since 1923, after the Turkish government allowed pilgrims to worship there once a year in a gesture toward religious minorities, in line with Turkey's aspiration to join the EU.

Those attending were elated, with one worshipper saying it was a great moment as they could now pray on the land where their great-grandfathers had come from. In 1923, the Turkish authorities had banned religious services at the monastery, built on the side of a mountain, and turned it into a museum, after it was abandoned when a population swap between Turkey and Greece saw most local Orthodox move to Greece.

BBC News


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