These seminarians studied Byzantine history last year, and this trip culminates their education in the field thanks to generous donations by graduates of HTS and other benefactors.
On July 18, the Jordanville group visited the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Phanar. George Saraph, a member of the English Department of the Patriarchate, showed the visitors the Cathedral of St George the Great Martyr and talked about its history and main holy relics. During the excursion, the visitors saw the history of the survival of the patriarchate during the Ottoman period. They venerated the relics of Holy Great Martyr Euthemius (4th century), the Three Hierarchs: St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian and St John Chrysostom, as well as other relics. This church will host a conference of the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches in September of this year, where they will be discussing plans for convening an Pan-Orthodox Council in 2016.
Mr Saraph then showed the visitors the residence of His All-Holiness the Patriarch and the Patriarchal Chancery, where a regular session of the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople meets on a monthly basis. Then the guests prayed during great vigil, performed in the presence of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
After the service, His All-Holiness received the teachers and students of HTS in his cabinet. In addition to Mr Saraph, Pastor Mark Madrigal, the Jordanville group’s guide, and Mr Orkun Kumkale were present. During their discussion, His All-Holiness warmly greeted the visitors and gave them his patriarchal blessing for their visits to the sites connected with the glorious yet tragic history of Byzantium. His All-Holiness briefly told them about the preparations for the Pan-Orthodox Council of 2016, and the conference of the Heads of the Local Churches later this year, and asked for their prayers for success in these endeavors. Patriarch Bartholomew was then told about the new publishing concern of Holy Trinity Seminary under the auspices of Holy Trinity Monastery Publishing, after which His All-Holiness gave the visitors mementos of their visit and books for the HTS library.
On Sunday, July 19, the delegates of HTS prayed during matins and Liturgy at St George Cathedral in the presence of His All-Holiness, and communed of the Holy Gifts of Christ. Afterwards, at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew, they had lunch with him along with a few other guests. His All-Holiness remembered his meetings with hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, specifically Metropolitan Laurus and Archbishop Anthony of Geneva of blessed memory.
His All-Holiness then gave the delegates additional books for the seminary’s library and invited them to visit his residence again in the future.