At 5pm., Archbishop Chrysostomos and his companion bishops were received by Patriarch Gregorios III, together with his Patriarchal Vicar, Bishop Joseph (Absi), the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari and all Catholic bishops in Damascus, first in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God. There, Archbishop Chrysostomos and his delegation were showered with flowers by a wedding party, and escorted by a Scout group and the choir singing Resurrection hymns. Patriarch Gregorios then invited his guest to enter the sanctuary to venerate the Gospel Book, which Archbishop Chrysostomos was pleased to do. The choir then sang “Many Years” for the Archbishop. Afterwards Archbishop Chrysostomos and his party made a tour of the Patriarchate where, in the Reception Hall, Patriarch Gregorios addressed his visitors, alluding to the fact that Saul made his first missionary journey to Paphos, (formerly the metropolitan see of Cyprus’ Archbishop) as we learn from the thirteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13: 6-12.) It was also in Paphos that Saul became known as Paul, after encountering the deputy, Sergius Paulus, who “believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” In reply, Archbishop Chrysostomos expressed himself very happy with the warmth and sincerity of his welcome at the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral in Damascus. He spoke of the importance of the role of Saint Barnabas, Cyprus’ patron and companion of Paul. Patriarch Gregorios presented his distinguished guest and brother hierarch with a complete set of the Liturgical Books in Arabic and Greek, which are the fruit of his own years of service as head of the Patriarchal Commission for Liturgy. For his part, Archbishop Chrysostomos presented a plate with the emblem of an imperial eagle.
Earlier on Sunday, Archbishop Chrysostomos and his delegation had concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Orthodox Patriarch Ignatios IV (Hazim.) Afterwards, Patriarch Ignatios hosted a lunch for eighty at his patriarchal residence. Patriarch Gregorios III was pleased to accept an invitation from Patriarch Ignatios on this occasion.
Sunday’s visit of Archbishop Chrysostomos ended with a dinner in his honour, hosted by the Ambassador of Cyprus, Mr. Efstathios Orphanides, at which Patriarch Gregorios III was among the many distinguished clerical guests, both Christian and Muslim.
Story: Valerie Chamberlain