The feast of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God is the dedication day of Eikosifinissa Monastery of Greece too, which belongs to the Metropolitanate of Drama.
His Grace Siluan, Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Eparchy of Hungary attended the feast with the blessing of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel and at the invitation of His Eminence Pavlos, Metropolitan of Drama – the Press Office of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Hungary informs.
This year, the celebration of the dedication day had an inter-Orthodox character because the answers at the pew were given both in Romanian and in Greek by the psalmic group of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Drama and by the Byzantion psalmic group of Iasi, invited by His Eminence Pavlos. The celebrating group of the Divine Liturgy consisted of His Eminence Pavlos of Drama, the local hierarch, His Grace Siluan, His Grace Nectarie of Antidon, representative of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Constantinople, clergy of the Metropolitanate of Drama, of other neighbouring Metropolitanates, and of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Hungary, as well as of servant priests of the Monastery of Saint Pavel, and of the cell of Saint Pantelimon of Cutlumus Monastery of Mount Athos.
On the 8th Sunday after the Pentecost, on the eve of the dedication day, His Grace Siluan celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the central church (chiriacon) of Eikosifinissa Monastery, with the blessing of the local hierarch, together with other clergy, and in the evening the vigil service for the Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God.
The sermon of the day was delivered by His Eminence Metropolitan Pavlos who spoke about the dogmatic and spiritual meanings of this feast dedicated to the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God, at the time when she left this world to live forever in the Kingdom of her Son and God, the Saviour of the world, who got Body from her body and was made Man for us men, and for our salvation.
The celebration of the dedication day included the Vigil service with litany, on the eve (14 August), the Divine Liturgy, on the feast day (15 August), followed by a procession of the Holy Icon of the Mother of God, not made by human hand, which is the most precious icon of this monastery and which always attracts pilgrims all the year long, to the celebration of the dedication day (15 August), to the Birth of the Mother of God (8 September), and to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September), when the icon is taken out in procession every time, up to a place specially arranged at the entrance into the monastery where the blessing of the water is celebrated too.
In the end of the liturgical programme of the day the icon is brought back into the church, in procession, carried by priests and monks overhead the thousands of faithful who are waiting with great joy for this time, showing in this way their love and devotion to the Mother of God.
Eikosifinissa Monastery was built during the 4th – 6th centuries by Saint Pious Gherman, considered founder of the monastery, just like saint Dionisie I, former Patriarch of Constantinople, retired from his position in 1472 and then becoming the second founder of this monastery. This monastic settlement was an important centre of spirituality and culture, a fulcrum of Orthodoxy and Hellenism during the Turkish domination, but it has also suffered a lot throughout the centuries. Thus, in 1507, all the 172 monks of Eukosifinissa Monastery died martyrs’ deaths killed by the Turks, giving their lives for Christ, our Saviour, and becoming good and living offering of this monastery to God.
The monastery passed through fires (in 1854), epidemic cholera (in 1864), attacks, damage and looting by Bulgarians (in 1907 and 1943), having been restored in 1967, when it was turned into a settlement for nuns who have taken good care of this historical place of cult and spirituality ever since. The miracle worker icon of the Mother of God with Infant Jesus not made by human hand seems to date from the time of its first founder (Saint Pious Gherman). It is laid at a place of honour on the iconostasis of the central church monastery; the faithful venerate it a lot and take it out in processions on the occasion of the dedication day and of the great feasts.
Eikosifinissa Monastery of Greece has been wisely headed by Abbess Alexia since 1967, with a community of about 30 nuns and sisters.