Over 25,000 believers flocked to Iasi on Monday to attend the Divine Liturgy in honour of Saint Paraskeva the New at the outdoor altar of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
A record number of devout Romanians and pilgrims from abroad came out to venerate the relics of Saint Paraskeva in a weekend-long celebration in Iasi leading up to her feast day.
As reported by Doxologia, over 120,000 persons queued for even 18 hours to venerate St Paraskeva’s relics.
On Monday, the local Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bukovina, Teofan, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with 17 fellow hierarchs.
Metropolitan Teofan conveyed special thanks to the pilgrims noting that they offered everyone ‘a lesson of theology.’
‘We convey to them thanks for all the beauty they dressed this divine celebration with. They dressed themselves with the beauty of Saints Spyridon and Paraskeva and they embellished these days with the beauty of the saints.’
Forgive those who criticize you!
The Metropolitan told the pilgrims to be understanding with those who do not understand their acts.
‘Your pilgrimage is admired by many. At the same time, there are some people who criticize you, who don not understand this pilgrimage and who unfortunately sometimes stain it with harsh words. You know some of them.’
‘Forgive them, beloved faithful, and do not condemn them for this. Let us understand them at least because the pilgrimage you enrolled in is an act that cannot be understood by the logic of this world.’
His Eminence stressed that on a pilgrimage, the pilgrim lives both on earth and in heaven.
‘The pilgrim breathes both in time and in eternity. Then how can we ask everybody who is separated from God and the faith to understand this blessed act of pilgrimage?’
‘Pilgrimage is like love, like God,’ the metropolitan added. ‘Love and God cannot be rationally understood.’
Thank you for this theology lesson
The metropolitan said that pilgrims offer a lesson of theology especially to the servants of the Church and thanked them for this.
‘Thank you, therefore, for this lesson of theology that you, the pilgrims, offer to us all, but particularly to us, the servants of the Church, helping us in our ministry and in our endeavor to God.’
‘May God reward you for the generous heart that you have. A generous heart as that of Saints Spyridon and Paraskeva. A generous heart that forgives, endures, thanks, but especially loves to a great extent. Because the great extent is the only true measure of love.’
His Eminence thanked the authorities, the volunteers, and the local and national media outlets that promoted the event ‘with professionalism and dedication.’
Awards for 17 priests who built churches during communism
During the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Teofan honoured 17 priests from Iasi, Botosani, Neamt and Suceava for managing to build churches during communism.
His Eminence remembered that this year we mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of communism.
Metropolitan Nektarios addresses pilgrims
Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, Paxoi and Diapontian Islands addressed the congregation listing three ways to live a saintly life: ascetism, love for others and resurrection.
‘The holy relics of Saint Spyridon and of Saint Paraskeva are signs and gifts of the resurrection worked by God in His Church and shared with us all.’
The Metropolitan of Corfu also referred to the relic of St Spyridon:
‘This is the most honourable hand with which he blessed the bread and wine, which transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood.’
‘This is the most honourable hand in which he held the brick and changed it at the First Ecumenical Council in fire, earth and water, thus showing the mystery of One God in Three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!’
‘The same hand blesses us and reminds us today all the truths of our faith,’ Metropolitan Nektarios said Oct. 14.
The Metropolitan concluded by saying that ‘the Saint calls us to follow him through struggle and love; he calls us to witness to the resurrection, interceding for us the gift of hope and faith to learn love and freedom.’
The celebrations dedicated to Sts Paraskeva and Spyridon end on Tuesday, October 15.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu