Turkey allows first Orthodox mass in 88 years

Turkey — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated an Orthodox mass on Sunday (August 15th) to mark the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The mass, at the Panagia Sumela Monastery in northeast Turkey, was the first allowed by Turkish authorities in 88 years. The centuries-old monastery used to be the home of a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, which was taken to Greece after the Turkish republic was founded in 1923 and the monastery was closed. Several thousand people from Istanbul, Greece, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia flocked to the monastery to attend Sunday’s mass. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou welcomed it as a “historic and important event”, reflecting a “spirit of co-operation and peace between us and our neighbours”.

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