On Monday, August 15, 2011, His All-Holiness celebrated the Feast of Dormtion of the Theotokos at Soumela Monastery in Trabzon for the second time ever since its closure 9 decades ago. Hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world, including Greece, Russia, Georgia, America and Australia, attended the Divine Liturgy.

The historic Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trapezounda stands at the foot of a cliff — partially constructed in the rock — facing the Altindere Valley in the Macka region of Trabzon Province, Turkey. The monastery was founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Great. It gained wide prominence and imperial protection in the 13th-14th centuries. Over the centuries, the monastery fell into ruin several times, was restored by various Emperors and seized by the Russian Empire during the occupation of Trabzon in the years 1916-1918. The site was destroyed by the Neo-Turks in 1922, abandoned the following year during the forced exchange of populations after the Treaty of Lausanne, and finally converted into a museum and tourist attraction. The Turkish Government first granted the Ecumenical Patriarchate the right to celebrate a Divine Liturgy on August 15, 2010, to mark the Feast of Dormition of the Mother of God, for the first time in 88 years.

photos by N.Manginas