On Sunday afternoon, January 4, 2015, the Community of St. Anthony in Istanbul received a wonderful surprise: at 2:00 p.m., his Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, paid a visit to the Basilica of St. Anthony.
He was received by the friars of the community, the guardian, Friar Iulina Pişta and a few guests—all of whom managed to be present despite the short notice given before his arrival.
The main objective of the Patriarch’s visit was to see the exhibition entitled: “ENCOUNTERS OF LASTING LOVE”, which was set up in the courtyard of the church on the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis. The exhibition is curated by Friar Martin Kmetec.
The exhibition underscores three important ecumenical moments: the Jerusalem meetings between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras I and Pope Francis and Bartholomew I and the next meeting that Pope Francis and Bartholomew I had in Constantinople.
There are photos on display, embellished with texts and messages. Some of the photos are from the archives of the Patriarchate, while the others were taken by photographers Nicolaos Manginas and Nathalie Ritzman.
After a complete tour of the exhibition, Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Basilica of St. Anthony, accompanied by friars and guests (Friar Ruben Tierrablanca, OFM, and members of the Focolare Community). A group of Filipinos welcomed him at the church door with Christmas carols. Inside the church, the Patriarch lit candles while Romanian clerics sang. As he visited the manger scene, he met and blessed a family that was waiting to celebrate the baptism of a child (the child’s mother was the sister of Friar Giuseppe Robu).
Patriarch Bartholomew blessed an icon depicting Peter and Andrew and affixed his signature on the back. He then went down to the crypt to see the Byzantine style paintings.
The visit ended with a meeting with Friar Luigi Iannitto, in the friary parlor.
The exhibition celebrates very important moments of ecumenical dialogue. So too, does the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to the community of St. Anthony because it underscores the commitment that the Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land has toward ecumenical dialogue.
One might remember that during the Chapter held last summer, the Custody established the Center for Ecumenical Dialogue.
The meeting was loaded with symbolism for the friars, but it was also a witness of faith in the Incarnate Word, an experience of the glory of the Father and the Son while living immersed in the Islamic world.
Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land
Bartholomeo I In Visita Ai Frati Di Istanbul
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