The Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia, meaning “All Holy” in Greek) at Melá Mountain within the Pontic Mountains range.
The monastery was founded in 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 - 395), Legend has it that two priests undertook its creation after discovering a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain.
During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various emperors. During the 6th century, it was restored and enlarged by General Belisarius at the behest of Justinian.
It reached its present form in the 13th century after gaining prominence during the reign of Alexios III (1349 - 1390) of the Komnenian Empire of Trebizond, established in 1204. At that time, the monastery was granted an amount annually from imperial funds. During the time of Manuel III, son of Alexius III, and during the reigns of subsequent princes, Sumela gained further wealth from imperial grants. Following the conquest by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1461, it was granted the sultan’s protection and given rights and privileges that were renewed by following sultans. The monastery remained a popular destination for monks and travelers through the years.
In 1682 and for a few decades, the monastery housed the Phrontisterion of Trapezous, a well-known Greek educational institution of the region.
The monastery was seized by the Russian Empire during the 1916-18 occupation of Trabzon. The site was abandoned in 1923, following forced population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. The departing monks were not allowed to take any property with them, so they buried Sumela’s famous icon under the floor of the monastery’s St. Barbara chapel. In 1930, a monk secretly returned to Sumela and retrieved the icon, transferring it to the new Panagia Soumela Monastery, on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the town of Naousa, in Macedonia, Greece.
A Greek Orthodox patriarch has lamented global indifference towards the fate of two Syrian bishops kidnapped two years ago.
Speaking ahead of the anniversary of the abductions on April 22, 2013, Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch, the brother of one of the kidnap victims, said: “We hope that the bishops are alive, but unfortunately the world is silent and nobody has provided physical evidence.”
Patriarch John X of Antioch, speaking at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday at Our Lady of Balamand Monastery, near Tripoli in northern Lebanon, called for “the whole community and international organizations to mobilise” to search for the missing bishops.
Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazii, both of Aleppo, were kidnapped two years ago near to the city.
Patriarch John is the brother of Metropolitan Boulos, or Paul, and said: “We tried to negotiate with those who can help in this matter, but unfortunately there was total silence.”
The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize Him Who had been proclaimed. After suffering with joy in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God Who appeared in the flesh, Who takest away the sin of the world, and granteth us the Great Mercy.