On the feast of Saint Anthimos the Ivirite (Iberian), 27 September 2016, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch, presided over the Divine Liturgy officiated in an outdoor altar, next to the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest. His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan John of Rustavi, delegate of His Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia, concelebrated.
In his homily, the Patriarch of Antioch referred to the outstanding personality of St Anthimos the Ivirite, considering him a loving icon under which gather the right believing people of the Churches in Romania, Georgia and Antioch. His Beatitude pointed out that the blood of martyrs represents the pillar of Christ’s Church, and noted that Christian martyrdom does not refer to a certain time, but encompasses even present times.
The Primate of the Antiochian Church also mentioned the situation of Christians in Syria and Lebanon and urged everyone to pray for the wounded East, for every country and people in the region, so that the Lord may caress the hearts of the saddened, and heal them by the touch of the Comforter, His Holy Spirit.
The Churches of Georgia, Romania and Antioch are present here today as a living witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Patriarch of Antioch said opening his homily. His Beatitude also noted that the three sister Churches represented in Bucharest are spiritually protected by martyr saints.
The Church of Georgia has chosen St George as her patron saint. The Church of Romania has chosen St Andrew as protector, being the one who brought the light of the Gospel to these lands. In the same way, the Church of Antioch has chosen Sts Peter and Paul. Each of these saints made their martyrdom a witness to the name of Jesus Christ, which became a stone of great price at the foundation of Christian faith.
The feast of Saint Anthimos the Ivirite was considered a celebration of holiness adorned with the blood of martyrdom, and crowned with the grace of priesthood.
Referring to the harsh times experienced by the East, Patriarch John X stressed the temporal universality of Christian martyrdom.
Martyrdom suffered for Christ is not a mere historical event written in some books. Martyrdom is not a mere virtue that only first Christians experienced. Christian martyrdom knows no certain time because human souls have to be always prepared to confess the name of the Lord so that He can dwell in them.
In the end, His Beatitude Patriarch John X urged the faithful to pray for Syria and Lebanon, and concluded by sending up prayers for our brothers in Georgia and Romania, asking God to help those who take up the responsibility to lead these countries for the benefit of their citizens.