The visit of His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and later on to Cappadocia began on Friday, 16th June 2017.
According to www.jp-newsgate.net, His Beatitude was invited by the All-Holy Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos for this visit, as the latter has undertaken pilgrimage tours to Churches and Holy Monasteries of our nation which have been deserted since the exchange of populations in 1922.
The Entourage of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem for this visit was the Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina – Geronda Secretary-General, the Patriarchal Commissioner in Constantinople Most Reverend Archbishop Nectarios of Athedona and Archdeacon Marc, and the Honoured Mr. Theodoros Giagkou, Law Professor at the School of Theology in Thessalonica with his respected wife.
Upon His arrival to Constantinople airport from Tel Aviv, His Beatitude was welcomed by the Metropolitan Theoliptos of Ikonion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchal Commissioner of Jerusalem Patriarchate in Constantinople Most Reverend Archbishop Nectarios of Anthedona.
At noon of the same day His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem was most warmly received by the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Fener Generals, at the Reception Hall of St. George the Triumphant Cathedral in the Fener district.
In the evening the Ecumenical Patriarch offered His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel where He was hosted.
The departure from Constantinople airport to Caesarea with Cappadocia as the final destination, took place on Saturday 17th June.
Escorts of the All-Holy Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos to this pilgrimage were, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and His Entourage, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Germanos of Tranoupolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Vassilios of Constantia from the Church of Cyprus and His Entourage, and the Roman-Catholic Church Delegation.
From Constantinople, His Beatitude landed in Caesarea, from where He was driven to the archaeological site of Korama valley. On site, still preserved are God-naturally-created buildings which have undergone pyramid shaped interior alterations, in order to serve as houses, or Churches and Holy Monasteries for our ancestors. The Patriarchal Entourages were received there by the Museum Manager of the Archaeological site of Korama valley.
During this guided tour he mentioned that Korama is the third most visited archaeological site in Turkey after Ephesos and Hierapolis. There are 250 Churches preserved in the area, for which maintenance attempts are being made through donations. In one of these two Churches there are preserved marvellous 10th century frescoes on the rocks.
The one of these two Churches is currently named “The Dark Church” due to the lack of light. Out of the many frescoes, most vividly visible are the icons of Christ the All Mighty, the Holy Communion, the Holy Transfiguration, and that of St. George the Great Martyr.
On the same Saturday afternoon, Vespers was officiated by the Ecumenical Patriarch at the deserted Church of St. Demetrius of Aravissos Community.
On Sunday, 18th June, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Holy Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Sinassos town. This Divine Liturgy was led by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with the participation in prayer of the All-Holy Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos.
During this Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem gave the following address: One year ago, we were gathered at the Great Synod of Orthodoxy at the Apostolic Church of Crete and thoroughly considered essential matters of the life of our Orthodox Church, we participated in daily Eucharistic experience, denoting by the communion of the common Chalice our unity in our Orthodox Apostolic faith and tradition and bore witness of righteousness, peace, reconciliation and love to the world.
Furthermore, he said: We pray that God may grant You longevity and undiminished health, so that in Your distinguished experience and wisdom You may direct the Ecumenical Throne matters and rule and coordinate the matters of the Orthodox Churches and continue in Your initiatives for the protection of these Cappadocian monuments of our tradition, which have been recognized to be preserved as parts of the worldwide cultural heritage, until their restoration to the condition and purpose to which they were initially founded, in due course, that our Lord knows.