The St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale with Robin Freeman (Photos: Stephen Osburn)The Axion Estin chanters, with Eleftherios EleftheriadisA joint concert titled “Heaven and Earth: Sacred Music from the Byzantine Greek and Slavic Eastern Orthodox Christian Traditions,” was offered by the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale, under the direction of SVOTS Lecturer in Choral Conducting Robin Freeman, and by chanters under the direction of Eleftherios Eleftheriadis of the Axion Estin Foundation. The highly regarded Protopsaltis of St. Nicholas Shrine Church in Flushing, NY, Eleftherios has taught two public continuing education courses in Byzantine Music at St. Vladimir’s, while conductor and soloist Robin Freeman has been involved with SVOTS music since 2006.
Pope Tawadros II is on an apostolic visit to UAE for five days which beagn on May 9th Friday. This is the first ever visit of the Pontiff to UAE since his consecration as the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and All Africa.
Pope will serve Liturgy and sermons at St Antony’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Abu Dhabi, which is home to one of the largest Coptic communities in the Emirates. Pope will also meet senior President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa and other high level UAE officials, along with his visit to Dubai and Sharjah Emirates.
In the Syrian Old Homs, "Eleven Christian churches are either completely destroyed or heavily damaged," related a local priest named George Abu Zahem to the Lebanese The Daily Star newspaper.
He has described the situation in the al-Hamidiyah Christian quarter as disastrous. According to the priest, the churches were robbed and desecrated by militants.
"A true miracle happened at Holy Martyr Elian's Orthodox Church in Homs (6th century). The gunmen set it on fire. However, the fire did not touch the ancient icons on the walls—they just slightly darkened," the priest said.
The thick walls have saved the Cathedral of Holy Theotokos, the "calling card" of Old Homs, where is the city's main relic—a small portion of the Girdle of the Mother of God.
On May 7, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, left for the Vatican on a fraternal visit. On May 8, in the Apostolic Palace, His Holiness met with His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome and Leader of the Catholic Church.
Present at the meeting were His Eminence Archbishop Gisak Muradyan, Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Argentine; His Eminence Archbishop Khajak Barsamyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church o North America; His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukian, Director of the Inter- Church Relations Department of the Mother See and Primate of the Artik Diocese; Rev. Fr. Anania Tsaturyan, Staff-Bearer of His Holiness Karekin II; Rev. Fr. Tovma Khachatryan, Spiritual Pastor of the Armenian Diocese in Italy; Rev. Fr. Vahram Melikyan, Director of the Information Services Department of the Mother See; and Mr. Michael Minasyan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See.
There is an attempt afoot to revive the religious tourism in Egypt. The pilot tour of the new route, "On the trail of the Holy Family" is scheduled for June this year.
The excursion is being worked out under the auspices of rectors of Christian churches and abbots of monasteries, reports the website of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.
The itinerary includes visits to the sites in Cairo, the Al-Minya governorate and further to the south, where, according to the tradition, the Virgin Mary with Joseph and the Infant Jesus took refuge from the pursuit. The tour finishes in Asyut, at the Monastery of St. Mary the Virgin. For safety reasons, a trip to the North Sinai governorate (where sites associated with the Holy Family's sojourn have survived as well), was excluded from the itinerary.
The current Turkish prime-minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is considering the possibility of Muslim prayer at Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul (Constantinople), reports Romphea. Erdogan is planning to participate in a namaz at the historic Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople, reports the Radikal Turkish daily newspaper. The Muslim prayer will probably be performed during the annual celebrations of the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, just before the August elections, when Erdogan wants to retake his office of prime-minister.