Name day celebration in Constantinople

It was a great honour, glory and joy to attend and participate in the Holy and Divine Liturgy in the all-honourable patriarchal church of St. George the Great Martyr in Phanar, on the occasion of celebrating the name day of the Father of the Orthodoxy, the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness, Mr. Bartholomew.

His All-Holiness is renowned as a great and equal-to-the-apostles Patriarch, similar in zeal to the Apostle Bartholomew, whose name he worthily bears. Through his holy blessing the light of Divine grace shone upon our ancient Archbishopric of Ohrid, after he embraced and accepted it in liturgical and canonical unity with the Mother Church in Constantinople, and through it with the entire Orthodoxy.

Joyful and enriched with this imperishable wealth, our ecclesiastic delegation, headed by the Archbishop Mr. Stephen, the Metropolitans Mr. Peter and Mr. Timothy, the Bishops Mr. Kliment and Mr. Parthenius, as well as our monastic brotherhood and sisterhoods, numerous clergy and faithful from the Church of Ohrid, celebrated with filial love and respect, with great joy and holy awe, with immense gratitude and praises, the name day of the Head of the Mother Church in Constantinople. This was a sign of our humble gratitude because he widely opened the doors of his heart and of the Mother Church for the Orthodox faithful in our Fatherland. His Beatitude the Archbishop presented the All-Holy Patriarch with an episcopal filigree paten. Our Most Reverend and God-loving Elder and Bishop presented him with an episcopal Pangaea, in the name of his monks. The faithful people also manifested their gratitude and love, each of them offering a red rose to the All-Holy Patriarch, for his name day and thus thanking him for the love with which he received us in the heavenly garden of the Orthodoxy.

This most honourable celebration was attended also by a large number of hierarchs and representatives from the Churches of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Greece, high ecclesiastical and social officials and workers in the field of the Church.

In his respective speech on the occasion of the name day of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Ohrid His Beatitude Mr. Stephen, among other things, emphasized with great enthusiasm::

As the first hierarch of the Ohrid Throne, on behalf of the Holy Synod, of the hierarchy, the monasticism and the faithful people, as well as on my own behalf, with a heart filled with respect and reverence, once again I thank You for the honour You dignified us with and for the heartfelt love which You embraced us with when You gave Your favourable judgment to our appellation. You granted us with the restoration of the liturgical communion with You and, through You, with the entirety of the Orthodox Church.

Now it is clear that Your benevolence towards our Archbishopric of Ohrid has proven to be Your newest offering before the Beloved God – as a deed worthy of the father of Orthodoxy. And we, Your humble children, give thanks to God, not just for the above mentioned grace, but also for the fact that we have been honoured to be Your contemporaries and witnesses of Your deeds for the good of the Church. In addition, we are grateful for the opportunity to rejoice and be comforted by Your feat of “firm standing”, of authentic abiding to the commandments and of self-sacrificing, even to the point of martyrdom, testimony of the canonical and sacred order of the Orthodox Church.

For many years to come – long live the First Apostle of Orthodoxy! May the grace of God strengthen You, so that You may preserve the holy order of Orthodoxy, may You cherish us with Your paternal tenderness and embrace the whole world with Your love!

The joy of our holy Patriarch was abundant and touched everyone, since he was showered with immense gratitude and love because of his holy personality. He is the one who practically fulfils what he preaches, carrying day by day the heavy patriarchal cross, and living in martyrdom for the sake of the Church of Christ and in the light of the Resurrection. Wisely steering the ship of the Church in these difficult times of disobedience and divisions, he is a true and bright witness of the faith, dedicated fully and with an apostolic zeal to the sincere service for the Church of God. Let us exclaim to him with enlightened hearts and lips, in the spirit of love and unity:

Many years to come, Your All-Holiness!