On Sunday, 15 November 2015, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW celebrated the door opening of the newly-constructed Holy Church of the Theotokos Pisidiotissa of Alanya, near the border of the state of Attaleia.

The name was given to this Church because of the historic myrrh-giving icon of the Theotokos called “Pisidiotissa,” because it was situated in the church of the same name in Sozopolis of Pisidia (today, Ouloumborlou-Beautiful City) and was known for its miracles from the 6th century.

In the patriarchal Divine Liturgy, with his fellow bishops Metropolitan Soterios of Pisidia and Metropolitan Theoleptos of Iconio, the priests, Great Archimandrite Fr. Bessarion, Hagiorite Archimandrite Fr. Theologos Chryssanthakopoulos, the architect (who developed the design and supervised the construction process), the parish priest Fr. Constantine Shevchenko, Great Archdeacon Fr. Andrew, and the Patriarchal Deacon Fr. Niphon, hundreds of faithful attended, in addition to those from the state of Attaleia, from Constantinople, and from parts of Greece.

After the Doxology, the Ecumenical Patriarch elevated Fr. Constantine, the parish priest, to the rank of Economos, and tonsured four young men as readers, who will serve in the holy churches of Alanya and Attaleia. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Soterios of Pisidia addressed the Patriarch who had delivered an inspired homily, and the Patriarch distributed to each person an icon of the Theotokos Pisidiotissa with His Patriarchal blessing. Following the Divine Liturgy, in the outdoor space where the city of Alanya had set up tents and 400 chairs (which did not suffice for the multitudes who attended), there was a festive program with traditional songs and folk dancing by the children of the Russian kindergarten, the private school of Alanya, and the Institute “The Apostle Paul” of the Isthmus of Corinth wearing traditional outfits. In addition to His All-Holiness and accompanying clergy from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the program was attended by the General Consul of Greece to Smyrna, Mr. Theodore Tsakiris, the Mufta of Alanya, the Prefect (Kaymakamis) and the Mayor of Alanya, who also spoke after the local Metropolitan expressed his thanks to all who contributed toward building the Orthodox Cultural Center and the Church. In addition, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed His gratitude to the local political leaders for their cooperation facilitating the completion of this project.

Indicating the enthusiasm of the participants, the songs and dancing continued after the completion of the official program, with many locals and visitors celebrating the fact that an Orthodox church is once again functioning in Alanya, after nearly a century without one. Particularly joyful were the 50 members of the Society of Alagioton of New Ionia, the representatives of the Union of Sparta- Asia Minor, and the members of the Society of Mediterranean Culture of Athens, who assisted in building the Church through their donations. Of course the emotion and joy of the Orthodox people of Alanya was indescribable—they were seeing their dream become a reality and now have their own church with a permanent parish priest! This is truly a gift of the Theotokos Pisidiotissa, who, after 13 centuries, has acquired Her own “house” in Her local community.

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