His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Sunday presided over the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the St George Patriarchal Cathedral at the Phanar in Constantinople, the city where Orthodox hierarchs gathered in a Holy Synod and restored holy icons for the use in services and private devotional life of Christians after a century-long ecclesiastical differences.
Bishop Adrian of Alikarnassos referred to the Sunday of Orthodoxy that has been celebrated for 1175 years marking the restoration of the veneration of holy icons in the Orthodox Church, saying that it is a calling ‘to keep steadfast the faith of the Holy Apostles, the faith of the Holy Fathers, the faith of the Orthodox that supports and on which is supported the whole world.’
‘The honourable veneration of holy icons and their central place in the Orthodox Church are not a simple tradition of the Christian East and a dimension of the lay devoutness that lacks theological essence. They belong to the core of Orthodox faith and identity,’ the Bishop of Alikarnassos stressed on February 25.
His Grace Bishop Adrian pointed to the importance of the city of Constantinople over the time, since ‘it is the blessed place where, under the Ecumenical Councils, was dogmatically established the truth of Orthodox faith, the truth about the icon, the truth that we celebrate today in the most honourable patriarchal cathedral in a luminous atmosphere.’
Concelebrants for the Divine Liturgy included Metropolitans Meliton of Philadelphia, Demetrios of Sebaste, Chrysostom of Myra, Theoleptos of Ikonion, Stephan of Kallioupolis and Madyton, Elpidophoros of Bursa, Demetrios of Kefalonia, and Bartholomew of Smyrna.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiated a Trisagion for the rest of the souls of those who struggled to defend the Orthodox faith.
His Holiness then led the faithful in the traditional procession with holy icons.
On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Church commemorates the restoration of holy icons by Ecumenical Patriarch Methodios of Constantinople, by the counsel of Byzantine Empress Saint Theodora. Saint Theodora mobilized the iconodules and proclaimed the restoration of icons in 843. Since that time the first Sunday of Lent is celebrated as the feast of the “Triumph of Orthodoxy.”
Photo courtesy of Nikos Manginas/Ecumenical Patriarchate