From July 14 to 21, 2015, two instructors from Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, Rev. Deacon Andrei Psarev and Dr Vitaly Permiakov, and two second-year students, Hegumen Constantin (Churchin) and Novice Angelos Stanway visited historical sites in Istanbul (Constantinople) and Iznik (Nicaea). For the second-year students who studied the history of Byzantium in the 2014-15 academic year, this trip became a fitting conclusion to the course. It became possible through the generous donations of HTOS alumni and some sympathetic donors.
On July 18, the group from Jordanville paid a visit to the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Phanar district of Istanbul. Mr George Sarraf from the English Office of the Patriarchate led the guests through the Patriarchal Cathedral of Holy Great Martyr George and told them about its history and most sacred items. During the tour, the guests had a clear vision of the history of survival that characterized the life of the Patriarchate under Ottoman domination. The Jordanville guests venerated the relics of St Euphemia the All-Praised (4th cent.), of the Three Hierachs – Sts Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, and other sacred items which are found in the Patriarchal Cathedral. This coming September, the cathedral will be the site of the Synaxis of the primates of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, who will discuss plans for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council to be convoked in 2016.
Further, Mr Sarraf showed the guests the building which houses the Patriarchal residence and chancery, including the room where monthly meetings of the Patriarchal Synod take place. Then, the guests prayed at Great Vespers which was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St George in the presence of His All-Holiness.
After the conclusion of Vespers, His All-Holiness the Patriarch Bartholomew received the group of HTOS faculty and students in his office. Aside from Mr Sarraf, Pastor Marc Madrigal who served as tour guide for the Jordanville group, and Mr Orkan Kumkale also took part in the meeting. In the course of the conversation, His All-Holiness kindly welcomed the HTOS guests to his see and bestowed upon them his patriarchal blessing to visit the sites connected with the glorious and tragic history of Byzantium. His All-Holiness briefly shared with his guests his thoughts regarding the preparations for the upcoming Great and Holy Council in 2016 and for the Synaxis of the primates at the end of this year, asking for prayers for the success of these events. The Patriarch heard with interest the news concerning the recent launching of Holy Trinity Seminary Press, an imprint of Holy Trinity Publications, and wished success to this endeavor. The guests received commemorative gifts from His All-Holiness, as well as books for HTOS Library.
On Sunday, July 19, the HTOS instructors and students prayed at Orthros and Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal cathedral, with all receiving the Holy Mysteries. His All-Holiness was also present and praying at this service. After the liturgy, the Jordanville guests were invited by the Patriarch to dine with him, together with some other invited guests, in the Patriarchal dining hall. During the meal, His All-Holiness recalled his meetings with some of the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad: the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus, and His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva.
After lunch, His All-Holiness donated some additional books for HTOS Library and extended to his guests an invitation to visit his see and residence in the future.
HTOS faculty and students who took part in this wonderful trip express their profound gratitude to His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew for his hospitality and warm welcome, and also thank Mr George Sarraf for his help and good care.