Thousands of Orthodox Christians to attend liturgy at monastery in Turkey

Local officials say thousands of Orthodox Christians from Greece, Russia and Georgia will attend mass to be held at a historic monastery in Turkey for the first time since 1923. Turkish authorities have reopened the Byzantine-era stone monastery of Sumela near the Black Sea - built nearly 1,000 feet into the side of a mountain - for once-yearly worship. Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, will hold the first liturgy there on Sunday.

The monastery was abandoned after the creation of the Turkish Republic and subsequent population exchange between Turks and Greeks. It has since become a major tourist destination along Turkey's Black Sea coast. An annual service will also be held on Sept. 19. at a newly restored Armenian church in eastern Turkey.