By the Grace of God,
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch,
To all the Faithful of the Church:
Grace, mercy, and peace from Christ the Savior Risen in Glory
* * *
Beloved brothers and sisters, dear children in the Lord,
Christ is Risen!
Once again, the sacred day of Pascha has dawned in full delight and splendor, dispersing joy, comfort, gladness and assurance of life to all faithful, despite the heavy atmosphere that prevails in our world on account of the multidimensional crisis with all its familiar painful consequences for our daily life.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia sent telegrams of condolences to His Holiness Patriarch Kyrril of Moscow and all Russia and Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, the President of the Russian Federation on the occasion of a severe tragedy in Moscow. Patriarch pointed out in a letter that he sympathize with pain of the families of the killed and the Russian people the sincerely caused by the explosion in the subway, with many human casualties.
The day of Holy Saturday with the ceremony of the Holy Fire is in the cycle of feasts of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as one of the holiest, most emotionally moving and consequently, most participated in by numerous pilgrims. On this day from the early hours of dawn the pilgrims from every direction, eagerly arrive in crowds in front of the gates of the Church of Resurrection, which are closed until 10:30 am (summer time) according to the Status Quo.
The National Geographic Magazine in its special issue on 'Water' featured a baptism at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The caption of the photo states: "To be baptized is to be born into a new life in Christ, according to the Greek Orthodox Church. Seven-month-old Stellios Theodore Gikas is dipped three times during a ceremony at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey." Theodore is the son of Meltem and Paul Gikas. Paul is a graduate of Holy Cross Seminary and serves as an assistant to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.