Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated on Monday in the patronal feast of the Romanian community in Istanbul. His Holiness spoke of St Paraskevi, of spiritual fight and of the power of Christian women to change the world through faith and love.
The Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated Father Sergiu Vlad for his fruitful work within the Romanian community and delivered a homily on St Paraschevi.
His Holiness referred to the feast of Saint Paraskevi, which, as he said, is added to the celebration of the memory of about twenty Holy Women, who are honoured in the month of July and are an example for modern Christians.
He said it was possible to call July “the month of the holy women, from whose life and sport we are taught what can be accomplished by Christian women when their hearts are full of warmth, living faith in Christ and unrequited love of their neighbour”.
“As some of them testified in favour of Christ, others acted in the field of mission and others became educators in Christ, inspiring and founding virtuous institutions and reforming society in the spirit of Christ,” continued His Holiness.
The Ecumenical Patriarch then referred to the life of Saint Paraskevi, saying her life was “not a shining example only for women, but for all of us. In the New Testament, expressions are often found, which characterize our life as a stage and a struggle, and remind us of the duty of struggle, of rivalry”, he said.
“If the athletes who take part in the Olympics, such as these days in Tokyo, fight with such zeal to win a gold medal, you realize, children of many, how much greater should be our zeal and how much greater our racing mood, in order to gain the praise of God himself,” added the patriarch.
The liturgy on Monday was preceded by the service of Vespers, officiated on Sunday evening at the church of the Romanian community by Metropolitan Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, the bishop in charge of Tatavla District.
The “Holy Martyr Paraskevi” Church from the former Prikidion neighbourhood of Constantinople (today Istanbul’s Hasköy neighbourhood) was rebuilt in 1692 by the Romanian Holy Prince Constantine Brâncoveanu.
From the initial church founded before Prince Brâncoveanu, today’s church has kept four Royal Icons: Christ Pantocrator, the Mother of God with the Holy Child, the Holy Prophet John the Baptist and the Holy Martyr Paraskevi, patron saint of the church.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has permitted the Romanian Orthodox community to use the church starting from 2004.
Photo credit: Ecumenical Patriarchate (opening)