Feast of St. Peter - Cairo, November 2003 (English)
THE CELEBRATION OF THE NAME DAY OF H.B. PETROS VII PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA AND ALL AFRICA
November 24, 2003
By His Grace Bishop George of Niloupolis
Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria
With particular splendour and distinct grandeur, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa once again celebrated the Name Day of its venerable Primate, His Beatitude Petros VII on Monday 24th November 2003, the day on which our Church honours the memory of the Holy Glorious Hieromartyr Petros, Patriarch of Alexandria.
On the day of the Feast, a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of St George in Old Cairo. His Beatitude, who presided over the Divine Liturgy, was accompanied by His Eminence Dionysios of Leontopolis, His Eminence Irenaios of Pilousion, His Eminence Petros of Axom, His Eminence Kallinikos of Khartoum and All Sudan and His Eminence Nicholas of Ermoupolis; His Grace Bishop Theophylactos Babylonos, His Grace Bishop Alexios of Nitria and His Grace Bishop George of Niloupolis; the Exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate, a representative of the Holy Monastery of Sinai and the clergy of the Patriarchate.
The address, given by His Eminence Dionysios of Leontopolis, praised the work done by Patriarch Petros and, among other things, he said:
“Your Beatitude’s Throne is adorned and replete with the honourable and commendable works of your tireless and blessed contribution to the Church of Christ and our people”. “I am obliged to confess, being one of the last two remaining old Egyptian Greek Archbishops, from the time of the Blessed Patriarch Chrysostomos, and I can say with boldness and candour that you are the most peaceful, loved and humble Patriarch of Alexandria who helps and supports the weak. Unyielding and tireless always and in all things, you dedicate your precious health on the altar of your High Ministry”. “The historian of the future who will attempt to write the modern Church history of the Holy Alexandrian Church, when he gets to your Patriarchate, will expend plenty ink and much paper and pages to enable him to capably record all that was successfully accomplished with God’s help, in the midst of difficulties, by our beloved Patriarch”. He ended with the following verse: “Wherever your feet tread the land blooms and fills with multi-coloured, beautiful and fragrant flowers”.
Before the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarch gave the address and among other things said: “We labour, together with the venerable Archbishops and Bishops, the clergy and blessed people of Africa, wherever our jurisdiction extends, and we invoke the grace and intercession of our Holy Predecessors in order to contribute to ecclesiastical unity and to the preservation of the pure faith in the All Holy Trinity and the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ.
Difficulties which present themselves do not frighten us. We do not consider problems as anything other than opportunities for showing forth Divine Grace in our life and in the progress of our Patriarchate. Our support is the hope that the Church subsists on and is directed by Jesus Christ, is nourished by His Body and Blood and receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The co-ordination is undertaken by the Venerable Centre, through tits many collaborators, both clergy and lay people, but faith in the better days which are coming is manifoldly expressed through the support of sister Churches and the protection of the civil authorities of Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and the various African countries”.
He ended with the following appeal: “We ask you all to pray for the addition of yet another miracle in our renovation project, the finding of donors for this monument of unique value, the Holy Church of St George, which has undergone much destruction through the years and is in need of immediate renovation and support”.
He went on to ordain the Hieromonk Apostolos Forlidas to the rank of Archimandrite in recognition of his labours and all the good works he does for the venerable aims of the Patriarchate.
Present at the Divine Liturgy were the Ambassador of Greece His Excellency Mr Dimitrios Vlassopoulos, the Undersecretary of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Mr Nicholas Bistis, the Ambassador of Cyprus His Excellency Mr Phaedon Anastasiou, the Members of Parliament Messrs Eleftherios Verivakis and Petros Tatoulis, the Former Minister Mr Andreas Zaimis, the Consul General in Alexandria Mrs Konstantina Athanasiadou, the Consul General in Cairo Mr Heracles Asteriades, the Presidents of the Greek Communities of Cairo and Alexandria Messrs Christos Kavalis and Haralambos Katsimbris respectively, the Vice President of SAE Mr Stephanos Tamvakis, the Presdient of the Association of Helleno-Egyptian Amity and Great Master Administrator of the Patriarchate of Alexandria Mr Spiros Kamalakis, Professor Theodoros Panagopoulos of the University of Piraeus, the President of MKO Alexandrian Lighthouse Patroclos Papastephanou, diplomatic and community dignitaries, Presidents of Societies and Associations of Egypt, many community members and a great number of travellers from Greece, which included a group of friends of the Holy Monastery of St Nektarios Gargitos, a property owned by the Patriarchate, led by the Mother Superior, the Nun Theonymphe.
After the Divine Liturgy His Beatitude accepted the wishes of the people present in the Great Hall of the Monastery.
A celebratory dinner was held at the Nile Hilton Hotel attended by all the invited dignitaries and many faithful.
During the dinner addresses were given by all the aforementioned dignitaries, who praised the work and personality of the Patriarch and offered him commemorative gifts as a small token of love, respect and esteem for his multi-faceted work.
The cycle of addresses was completed by His Beatitude. In his address, among other things, he mentioned the following:
“We receive double gifts, double joy fills us and the effects of Divine Grace are also doubled. That is why our Name Day celebrations become a cause for unity and common expression of our reference to our ecclesiastical and patriarchal tradition, which, because we recognise it, we try not only to worthily propound it, but also to keep it in all faithfulness. The presence here of so many people is very pleasant and useful for us, for we know that you all hastened here, to honour the expresser of the laws of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, the great national and ecclesiastical bearer of Divine Grace.
Your presence affirms our common desire for ceaseless elevation of our Patriarchal labours. We honour, and have a special place in our Patriarchal heart, for all the eminent dignitaries, Mr Minister, the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, the Parliamentarians of our Motherland, the Presidents of Communities and of the other bearers of the institutions and Societies, the supporters of our Patriarchal labours, especially those of our African missionary efforts, the Media Representatives, as also all our children throughout Africa and naturally also those who hastened to honour us with in their addresses, their prayer, their various expressions of assistance”.
An artistic entertainment programme followed consisting of traditional folk dances and songs presented by the Cultural Centre of Leros.
That evening the Patriarch attended a dinner hosted in his honour by His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece Mr Vlassopoulos at the Ambassadorial residence.
The Patriarch was accompanied by His Eminence Dionysios of Leontopolis, His Eminence Irenaios of Pilousion and His Eminence Kallinikos of Khartoum, together with the Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, His Grace Bishop Alexios of Nitira. Guests at the dinner were the Undersecretary of the Interior Mr Nicholas Bistis and those in attendance with him, the Ambassador of Cyprus Mr Phaedon Anastasiou, the Parliamentarians Messrs Eleftherios Verivakis, Petros Tatoulis, the Former Minister Mr Andreas Zaimis, the Vice President of SAE Mr Stephanos Tamvakis, Messrs Spiros Kamalakis and Patroclos Papastephanou, the Consuls General in Alexandria and Cairo Mrs K Athanasisdou and Mr Heracles Asteriades respectively, the Presidents of the Hellenic Communities of Alexandria and Cairo Messrs Haralambos Katsimbris and Christ Kavalis respectively, Professor Soulogiannis, the Embassy Counsellor Mr G Hatzimichelakis and others.
His Beatitude was addressed by the Ambassador with warm words, welcoming him to the “home of Greece” for the first time since his taking on of his new duties in Egypt, wishing once again health and strength to the celebrating Primate, promising to be at the Patriarch’s side in the difficult task he has.
The Ambassador gave His Beatitude an old edition of an historic book from his personal library.
His Beatitude then replied, referring to his past acquaintance with the Ambassador, to the vision for the journey of renovation of the Patriarchate and the new wind blowing since his election, to the contribution of the Patriarchate to the revival of the Communities, to the building renovations, to the finding of new, educated colleagues, to Missions and to the assistance given by the Churches of Greece and Cyprus. Finally he offered a vote of thanks, as the honour given by the Ambassador to the person of the Patriarch reflects, as he said, on the institution and all its workers.
The Undersecretary also addressed His Beatitude praising his work and promising all possible support from the Republic for the work of the Patriarchate, given that the unity and love which he saw in Cairo and Alexandria, he had never before seen anywhere.
Afterwards, His Beatitude returned to the Holy Monastery of St George, staying overnight and leaving early the following morning by road for his seat in Alexandria.