His All-Holiness in Finland

In response to an invitation by the Autonomous Church of Finland, after completing the Patriarchal Visit to the Orthodox Church of Estonia, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew traveled by boat from Tallinn to Helsinki on the morning of September 11, 2013, in order to preside over the celebrations on the occasion of the 90th anniversary since the proclamation of the Finnish Church as Autonomous by the Mother Church of Constantinople.

The Patriarch’s entourage during this visit comprised the same members as during his visit to Estonia.

During his trip, the Patriarch was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland and His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia, together with his bishops.

Immediately on arrival in Finland, His All-Holiness visited the Church of the Holy Trinity in Helsinki, the oldest Orthodox Church in the region serving as the parish for the Russophone community of the local Church. There, a formal Doxology was held in the presence of the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to Finland, Their Excellencies Christos Kontovounissios and Filippos Kritiotis.

His All-Holiness was addressed by His Eminence Archbishop Leo, who expressed the joy of the local Church for the honorable presence of the Patriarch at the celebrations for the 90th anniversary, as well as by the Hon. Herman Merras, President of the community, who presented the Patriarch with a copy of the sacred icon of the Virgin Mother of Konevitsa.

His All-Holiness responded, expressing his joy at being worthy for yet another time to visit the blessed land of Finland and conveying to the large community his Patriarchal blessing.

Afterward, the Patriarch attended a meal organized by the Cathedral Community of Helsinki at Farouge Restaurant, owned by Orthodox parishioners from Lebanon. Rev. Fr. Markku Salminen, parish priest of the Cathedral, addressed the Patriarch, who conveyed a greeting to the distinguished gathering.

Once His All-Holiness and his venerable entourage settled in Kalastakatorppa-Hilton Hotel, there followed an afternoon visit by car to the suburb of Espoo, where there was an Ecumenical Encounter in the local Lutheran Cathedral, which is the see of the Lutheran Diocese of Western Communities and neighborhoods of Helsinki, established in 2004. The event was organized by Rev. Fr. Heikki Huttunen of the Orthodox Church of Finland and attended by almost all the Bishops of the Lutheran Church of the country, as well as representatives of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.

After a brief prayer service, the Patriarch was addressed by the Most Reverend Archbishop of Turku and Finland, Dr. Kari Mäkinen, as well as by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Helsinki and President of the Finnish Ecumenical Council of Churches, Mgr. Teemu Sippo, both of whom highlighted the pioneering contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarch both in inter-Christian affairs and in the critical environmental issues of our planet.

In response, the Patriarch thanked all the members of the Council for their reception and occasion of fellowship, while also addressing them extensively on the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism and the witness of the Orthodox church in the Ecumenical Movement and more generally in the contemporary world.

Later, the Patriarch departed Espoo by car for the town of Tapiola, where he presided over a brief service at the Church of St. Herman of Alaska, consecrated in 1998 and well-known for its rich parish life and multiethnic congregation. Among those present was the monastic community of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Lintula with its Abbess, Mother Michaela. At the conclusion of the service, the Patriarch addressed the large congregation, which had filled the entire church together with their children in order to receive the blessing of the First-Hierarch of Orthodoxy.

In the evening, there was a reception in honor of the Patriarch at the residence of the Ambassador of Greece in Helsinki, which, among many dignitaries, was attended by representatives from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Turkey, Estonia, France, Iceland, Cyprus and Slovakia. Appropriate addresses were exchanged by the Greek Ambassador and the Patriarch.

It should be noted that on Friday morning, September 13, 2013, His All-Holiness will be received by His Excellency the President of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, in the Presidential Palace.


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