In response to a joint invitation by the Autonomous Church of Estonia and the President of the Republic of Estonia, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew traveled to Tallinn, Estonia, on September 4, 2013, in order to preside over celebrations for the 90th anniversary since the declaration of the Estonian Church as Autonomous by the Mother Church of Constantinople.
Accompanying His All-Holiness during this official visit are His Eminence Geron Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, V. Rev. Dr. Theodore Meimaris (Third Patriarchal Deacon), V. Rev. Dr. Makarios Griniezakis (Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne), and Mr. Symeon Frantzelas (Chief Attendant).
His All-Holiness was received at Tallinn Airport by the Secretary General (representing the Estonian Government) and His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia, together with members of the local Sacred Synod. Also present were the Ambassadors of Turkey, Greece and Finland, as well as many clergy and distinguished laity. The Ecumenical Patriarch greeted those in attendance and conveyed his blessing to the people of Estonia. He also responded to questions by local journalists.
In the afternoon of September 4, 2013, His All-Holiness was interviewed by state television ETV on various church and social matters. Later that evening, he attended a dinner offered in his honor by the Turkish Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency Ayşenur Alpaslan.
On September 5, 2013, His All-Holiness visited Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves (President of Estonia), Ms. Ene Ergma (President of the Estonian Parliament), Mr. Urmas Paet (Minister for Foreign Affairs), and Mr. Andrus Ansip (Prime Minister of Estonia), expressing his gratitude for their support of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Estonia, especially following the restoration of its status of autonomy by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1996. In turn, the political leaders communicated their thanks to His All-Holiness for his ongoing support of the same Church in the past and especially since 1996. Afterward, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew responded to questions from the local media regarding the two Orthodox jurisdictions in Estonia, the situation in Syria, the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, and other contemporary issues. Later that evening, His All-Holiness and his entourage were guests of His Excellency the President of Estonia at his summer residence.
On September 6, His All-Holiness met with the Mayor of Tallinn, the Hon. Edgar Savisaar and was given a tour of the medieval city. He also visited the Methodist Church in Tallinn, where he first met with the head of the Lutheran Church in Estonia and President of the Estonian Council of Churches, Archbishop Andres Pŏder, and the members of the Council.
The same afternoon, the Patriarch paid a courtesy visit to the Embassy of Greece in Estonia, where he was received by the Ambassador, His Excellency Konstantinos Katsambis and his colleagues. There, the Hon. Aavo Kärmas, President of the Estonian National Post Office, presented him with a commemorative stamp issued in honor of the Patriarchal visit by the relevant state authorities on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the declaration of the local Church as Autonomous by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The event was attended by His Excellency Toomas-Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, and the former President, Mr. Arnold Rüütel. In the evening, His All-Holiness attended a formal dinner in the presence of representatives of the literary and cultural arts of Estonia as well as the Ambassadors of the Orthodox countries in Estonia.
On September 7, His All-Holiness visited the Holy Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky of the Russian jurisdiction in Tallinn, received by His Eminence Metropolitan Cornelius and his clergy. After attending the Divine Liturgy, His All-Holiness met with His Eminence Metropolitan Cornelius and his colleagues, briefly expressing – in the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia – his wish for the commencement soon of bilateral direct communication between the two aforementioned Metropolitans, which would contribute to the timely and definitive resolution of the so-called Estonian problem. His All-Holiness assured him that, on the part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, there is always a spirit of sincerity and goodwill, while the same attitude is necessary also on the part of the Russian Church so that the well-known difficulties might be overcome.
Afterward, the Patriarch visited the Holy Cathedral of St. Symeon in Tallinn, where he addressed a pastoral greeting to the clergy of the Autonomous Church of Estonia. At noon, the Patriarch sat down to lunch with the local clergy and their families. Early that afternoon, His All-Holiness presided over Vespers Service in the same Church. At the conclusion of the service the Patriarch read a special prayer for the numerous children present.
Later, the Patriarch visited the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin in Tallinn (Dome Church) in order to participate in an ecumenical service organized by the Estonian Council of Christian Churches, where he responded to the address by the President of the same Council, His Eminence the Lutheran Archbishop Andres Pŏder. In attendance, among others, were His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, who had just arrived together with His Grace Bishop Arsenios of Joensuu, as well as Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of Greece and Finland. There ensued a meeting between the Patriarch and the heads of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, during which there was an exchange of opinions on the development of the dialogue between the two Christian traditions and the positive relations and cooperation among them on the local level.
Immediately afterward, in the same Lutheran Cathedral, His All-Holiness attended a special concert in his honor with musical pieces of the renowned composer, both nationally and internationally, the Hon. Arvo Pärt. At the conclusion, the Patriarch briefly addressed the large audience.
In the evening, His All-Holiness was a guest at a formal dinner prepared in his honor by His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn at the Administrative Center of the Autonomous Church of Estonia.
On Sunday morning, September 8, 2013, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew traveled to the Diocese of Pärnu and Saare in order to celebrate the Divine Liturgy commemorating the Birth of the Theotokos with Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia, Geron Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Bishop Ilias of Tartu, Bishop Alexander of Pärnu and Saare, and Bishop Arsenios of Joensuu. During the Divine Liturgy, His All-Holiness ordained Deacon Christophoros Parts to the priesthood.
Immediately afterward, at the recommendation of His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos, the Patriarch bestowed the honorable office of Archon Protomaistor to the renowned composer and faithful member of the Orthodox Church, Mr. Arvo Pärt, while bestowing the office of Archon Referendarius to the grand benefactor of the Autonomous Church, Mr. Viljo Vettik and the highest award of St. Plato to Mr. Tŏnis Joarand. Later, at lunch, the Patriarch was addressed by the newly-ordained presbyter and the new Archon, Mr. Arvo Pärt, who concluded with the moving tribute: “Your All-Holiness, we breathe with your prayers!”
In the afternoon, the Patriarch attended a concert with church and traditional music with instrumental groups from the regions of Vändra, Värska, and Seto. In the evening, the Patriarch attended a formal dinner at his hotel, the Ammende Villa.
On Monday morning, September 9, His All-Holiness and his venerable entourage departed by boat from the Diocese of Pärnu for the Kihnu and Saaremaa islands of the Estonian Archipelago in the same diocese.
En route, the Patriarch visited the Church of the Holy Trinity in Pootsi-Kŏpu, where the father of the Martyr Metropolitan St. Plato served as a priest.
Immediately afterward, upon reaching Kihnu, the Patriarch was accompanied throughout the entire day by the former President of Estonia, His Excellency Arnold Rüütel and his gracious wife. He visited the Church of St. Nicholas on the same island and attended the baptism of a local young woman Margarita performed by His Eminence the Metropolitan of Tallinn.
Later, His All-Holiness was given a tour of the adjacent Museum of Traditional Art in the region and visited the island’s Music School, which he consecrated.
After lunch, organized by the Governor of Kihnu, the Hon. Ingvar Saare, and the president of the local council, Mr. Paal Pŏlluste, the Patriarch visited the island cemetery and held a memorial service for the repose of all Orthodox who had passed away on the island as well as the sailors who had died at sea.
In the afternoon, he travelled to Saaremaa Island and visited the Church of St. Nicholas in the capital city of Kuressaare, where he presided over the Vespers Service, where nuns from the nearby Skete of St. John the Baptist chanted.
In the evening, the Patriarch attended a dinner organized in his honor by the district governor of the island, the Hon. Kaido Kaasik.
On Tuesday, September 10, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his venerable entourage were given a tour of the Medieval Museum in Kuressaare by its director, Mr. Raul Salumäe. Afterward, the Patriarch visited the nearby Holy Skete of St. John the Baptist, where he held a brief service in the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle.
On the way to Kaali, the Patriarch received a guided tour by the Hon. Anto Raukas, corresponding member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, of the Geological Museum and the adjacent meteoric crater. Prior to departing from Saaremaa Island, His All-Holiness visited the Church of the Nativity in Läänemaa, which was ruined by bombing.
Later, the Patriarch and his entourage left the island for the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Haapsalu. At noon, the Patriarch was the honored guest as a luncheon organized by the Mayor of Haapsalu. Then, the Patriarch visited the center of neurological rehabilitation in the area, spoke to the local residents, and was guided through the facilities by the President of the Center’s Administrative Board, the Hon. Priit Eelmäe.
In the evening, in Tallinn, the Patriarch blessed the farewell dinner offered in his honor at the TV-Tower restaurant by His Eminence the Metropolitan of Tallinn, who conveyed his gratitude to the First-Hierarch for his honorable and supportive presence, which enriched the celebrations on the occasion of the 90th anniversary since the bestowal of autonomy by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Orthodox Church of Estonia. He then presented His All-Holiness with a commemorative medal for the autonomy. In response, the Patriarch expressed the satisfaction and congratulations of the Mother Church to Metropolitan Stephanos, the other hierarchs, clergy and laity of the local Church for their immaculate organization of the festivities and the successful completion of this Patriarchal visit to Estonia as well, indicating his wish that the local Church will increase and grow strong in the Lord to the pride of the Mother Church of Constantinople.
Click here for the Greeting by His All-Holiness at Tallinn Airport in English.
Click here for the Greeting by His All-Holiness at Tallinn Airport in Greek.
Click here for the Photo Gallery.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 1.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 2.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 3.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 4.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 5.
Click here for Estonia: Official Press Release 6.
Selection of Addresses by His All-Holiness in Estonia:
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