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Bishop Basil and Fellow Episcopal Assembly Officers Received by Ecumenical Patriarch

On the terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel in SultanahmetOn the terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel in SultanahmetIn his September 24 Clergy Brotherhood Memo, His Grace Bishop Basil reports:

BY YOUR HOLY PRAYERS, the Chair of the Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North & Central America ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), the Second Vice Chair ARCHBISHOP JUSTINIAN of Naro-Fominsk (Russian Orthodox Church in the USA), the Treasurer ARCHBISHOP ANTONY of Ierapolis (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA) and I (who serve as the EA's Secretary) have all returned from Istanbul where earlier this week (Tuesday, 21 September) we were graciously received at the Patriarchal Headquarters in the Phanar by His All Holiness ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I. While in Istanbul I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sultanahmet, right next to Hagia Sophia and Hagia Ireni (site of the 2nd Ecumenical Council in A.D. 381).

Upon arriving at the Patriarchate on Tuesday morning, we immediately visited the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Greatmartyr George where we venerated the holy table and the sacred relics of St John Chrysostom (+403AD), St Gregory the Theologian (+389AD), the Great Virgin-martyr Euphemia the All-praised (+304AD), the Holy Empress Theophano (+893AD), and Righteous Solomoni the mother of the Seven Maccabbean Youths (+168BC). Welcomed by His HolinessWelcomed by His HolinessAs a very special blessing, the silver reliquary containing the complete incorrupt relics of St Euphemia, which is only opened twice each year [on her two feast days: September 16th and July 11th], was opened and her incorrupt face was uncovered for our veneration.

His All Holiness welcomed us and then delivered a formal Greeting in which insightful and very important comments were made concerning the establishment and work of Episcopal Assemblies world-wide and our own Episcopal Assembly of North & Central America in particular. Please find attached hereto the text of the Greeting of His All Holiness. Following his Greeting, His All Holiness invited each of us to make opening remarks, and then a very open and frank discussion was held concerning the work of our Episcopal Assembly and the life of the Church in America.

We were hosted at a lunch in the patriarchal trapeza which was attended by hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne serving in and around the Halki Monastery and Seminary with Holy Trinity Chapel in the centerHalki Monastery and Seminary with Holy Trinity Chapel in the centerCity. After lunch and the presentation of gifts, His All Holiness arranged for us to be accompanied by clergy of the Patriarchate to visit the 11th century "Monastery of the Holy Saviour in the Countryside" (Chora) rebuilt on 5th century foundations, the 6th century "Cathedral of Christ the Holy Wisdom" (Hagia Sophia) rebuilt on 4th century foundations, and the Patriarchal School of Theology - called the "Hill of Hope" - atop the highest peak on the island of Halki, opened in the 19th century at the "Monastery of the Holy Trinity" which was founded by St Photios the Great in 9th century.

His All Holiness graciously hosted us as guests of honor at a farewell supper featuring traditional Turkish cuisine at the world renowned "Restaurant Beyti" in the nearby Florya district.

Read the official press release of the meeting HERE.

View Bishop Basil's photo gallery HERE.