Thousands of pilgrims arrived in Iași from all over Romania and other countries to venerate Saint Paraskeva, commemorated on Oct. 14 and whose holy relics are in Iași for over 350 years.
On Saturday, His Eminence Nicholas Baalbaki, Metropolitan of Hama (Patriarchate of Antioch) presided over the festive Divine Liturgy. Concelebrants for the Divine Liturgy included:
- His Eminence Teofan, Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bukovina;
- His Eminence Andrei, Metropolitan of Cluj, Maramureș and Sălaj;
- His Eminence Irineu, Metropolitan of Oltenia;
- His Eminence Petru, Metropolitan of Bessarabia and exarch of the territories;
- His Eminence Teodosie, Archbishop of Tomis;
- His Eminence Pimen, Archbishop of Suceava and Rădăuți;
- His Eminence Calinic, Archbishop of Argeș and Muscel;
- His Eminence Casian, Archbishop of Lower Danube;
- His Grace Qais, Bishop of Erzurum and vicar of the Patriarch of Antioch;
- His Grace Nicodim, Bishop of Severin and Strehaia;
- His Grace Andrei, Bishop of Covasna and Harghita;
- His Grace Galaction, Bishop of Alexandria and Teleorman;
- His Grace Leontios, Bishop of Chytron (Orthodox Church of Cyprus);
- His Grace Varlaam of Ploiești, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch;
- His Grace Ilarion of Făgăraș, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Sibiu;
- His Grace Paisie of Lugoj, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Timișoara;
- His Grace Damaschin of Dorna, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Suceava and Rădăuți;
- His Grace Ignatie of Mureș, Bishop-Elect of Huși.
His Grace Bishop Varlaam of Ploiești, the delegate of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, read out the patriarchal message addressing the pilgrims and the clergy present in Iași on the feast of St Paraskeva.
In his message, the patriarch said that Christian life represents a spiritual pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God.
On this journey to the Kingdom of God, the message reads, every believer is guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, because it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that humans can become Saints. The Holy Spirit helps man grow spiritually by fulfilling the commandments of the gospel to love God and his fellows, by following the example of the Saints’ life, by calling them in prayer, by venerating their icon and holy relics.
His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Hama addressed the faithful reflecting on the lives of the two Saints Paraskeva and Thekla, and pointing to the difficulties experienced by the Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Met. Nicholas thanked His Eminence Metropolitan Teofan for extending the invitation to take part in the patronal feast of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Iași and conveyed the prayers and blessings of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch.
Met. Teofan referred to the difficult situation in Syria, comparing it to the persecutions experienced by the Romanian Orthodox Church during communism. His Eminence evoked the luminous figures of clergy and lay persons who confessed Orthodoxy in communist jails. He made a special reference to the Very Rev. Archimandrite Mina Dobzeu, present at the Divine Liturgy, whom he presented with the highest distinction in the Metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina, the Moldavian Cross.
Known for the fact that he administered the Holy Sacrament of Baptism to the renowned Jew convert Fr. Nicolae Steinhardt, Archimandrite Mina was born on 5 November 1921 in Grozești, Bessarabia, and was one of the thousands of clerics who defended Orthodoxy during communism. He was imprisoned in Galați, Jilava, Ghernal, and at the Danube Delta Canal.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Met. Teofan brought thanks to God for this wonderful gift of His Saints who are directors and examples in our earthly life. His Eminence also thanked Patriarch Daniel both for the festive message, and for his fruitful activity carried out before his enthronement as Patriarch of Romania, when he pastored the Metropolis of Moldovia and Bukovina. We were entrusted with this work and try to continue it, His Eminence Met. Teofan added.
His Eminence addressed thanks to the hierarchs from the sister Orthodox Churches present at the event whom he presented with an icon depicting Saint Paraskeva of Iași.
The liturgical answers were offered by the Chivotul Byzantine Music Choir.
Credit: Oana Nechifor/ Doxologia Media