Pope Francis Greeted in Festive Atmosphere at the Phanar
On Sunday, November 30, 2014, the Ecumenical Patriarchate celebrated its Thronal Feast on the occasion of the Feast of St. Andrew, First-Called of the Apostles, at the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
Typically each year, over the last fifty years, formal visitations take place with the Church of Rome and delegations from each Church are sent by their Primates to attend the patronal feast of the other.
This year, however, rather than sending a delegation, Pope Francis attended in person and both Primates exchanged official addresses as well as the kiss of peace, together blessing the faithful at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.
Following, a Joint Declaration was signed and a luncheon was offered by the Patriarch in honor of the Pope in the Patriarchal compound.
Pope Francis was enthusiastically greeted with the ringing of church bells upon arrival at the Ecumenical Patriarchate today on the occasion of the celebration of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron saint of the Church of Constantinople, the Byzantine name for present-day Istanbul. The Pope was received at the patriarchal gate by the Elder Metropolitans of Nicaea and Chalcedon. The Ecumenical Patriarch then escorted the Pope into the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George.
The two leaders followed the Doxology Service, a prayer for thanksgiving and peace, after which they blessed the faithful crowded inside the Patriarchal Cathedral. Also in attendance were the consul generals of Istanbul.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presented Pope Francis with an icon of St. George painted on Mt. Athos. In return, Pope Francis offered to His All-Holiness a facsimile copy of an eleventh-century Greek manuscript from the Vatican library and a copy of ninth-century mosaic of Christ from St. Peter's Basilica.
Afterward, the Pope was received in the patriarchal office for a private discussion with His All-Holiness. Before leaving, Pope Francis was introduced the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod.