Greece / Cyprus

Panagia Soumela Monastery Opens after 88 Years

August 15th 2009. This final moment, triggered the opening of the Monastery known as Panagia Soumela, in what is known today as Trabzon (formally Trapezounda) Turkey. Trabzon was the heart of the historic homeland of the Pontian Greek community of Pontos and Panagia Soumela it’s epicenter for nearly two thousand years.

August 15th is celebrated the world over by Christians as the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Arguable, here more than any other place, Greeks, especially of Pontian decent feel the need to return and practice their faith by holding this annual liturgy service.

Under Turkish law however, no historic site is allowed to be used for public religious services. For the last few years however, Greeks have been pressuring for change. In this video clip, Greek government officials from Greece and well known Pontian Greek leader Ivan Savvidis of Russia made a stand at the entrance to the monastery. Liturgy services followed by the singing of the national Greek anthem nearly led to a riot with Turkish government officials and police.

One year later, the Turkish government opened Panagia Soumela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey for liturgy services and continues to allow for the annual event today. Pilgrims from around the world come to the great monastery for the annual dormition of the Virgin Mary to prey and stay connected to their Hellenic Pontian roots.