The feast of the great-martyr St. George the Trophy Bearer was celebrated with Byzantine grandeur at the Cathedral of Stockholm, which bears his name, on Sunday, April 23, 2017. Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia presided over the archieratical Divine Liturgy, assisted by the Very Rev.
Archimandrites Sosipatros Stefanoudis, Parish Priest of the Cathedral, and Alexander Loukatos, Parish Priest of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo, the Rev. Protopresbyter Angel Velichkov, Parish Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration of Christ in Stockholm, the Rev. Economos Christos Letsios, Parish Priest of the Apostle Cleopas Parish in Kalmar, the Rev. Presbyters Athanasios Melas, Parish Priest of the Apostle Paul Parish in Uppsala, and Petros Moralis, Parish Priest of the Holy Trinity Parish in Göteborg, as well as the Rev. Deacon Alexander Djukic, of the Russian Parish of the Transfiguration of Christ in Stockholm.
The Revs Alexander Loukatos, Angel Velichkov and Petros Moralis delivered sermons during the services of Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy, while the hymns were chanted by Mr. Dimitrios Kalpakidis, Head Chanter of the Cathedral, together with the Cathedral’s Byzantine choir.
Their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to Sweden, Messrs. Dimitrios Touloupas and Andreas Kakouris, were on hand for the service, joined by Greece’s honorary Consul General in Göteborg, the Honorable Christos Kakazoukis, local entrepreneurs Takis and Sophia Soldatos, Christos and Katerina Meletis, George and Demetrios Vasiliou, the President of the Greek School of Stockholm Mr. George Konstantinou with his wife Maria, the Parish Council of the Apostle Cleopas Parish in Kalmar Maria Kehagia, Christos and Evropi Petridis, and Nicholas Strachinis, as well as officers and associates from the Greek and Cypriot embassies in Stockholm.
In his address, Metropolitan Cleopas spoke about the historic gifting of the Cathedral to the Holy Metropolis of Sweden by the Apostolic Catholic Church on April 27, 1976, thanks to the initiative of his venerable predecessor His Eminence Metropolis Pavlos formerly of Amaseia and the latter’s associates. The cornerstone of the Cathedral was laid in September of 1889 and the construction of the historic church was completed in November of 1890.
After calling upon everyone present to show their support for the major renovation projects set to take place in the Cathedral, the Metropolitan noted that “in turning our attention to our fellow men and women, we must not overlook the preservation, maintenance, and promotion of their works; in other words, our cultural capital. By preserving, renovating, and undertaking major restoration works in the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm, we will contribute to society’s spiritual need to learn about its past and connect it to its future. This has to do with preserving the memory of a society and people, and promoting the material and spiritual works created by this people during a particular place and time in history. Our goal is for the St. George Cathedral to become a center of spiritual reconciliation and coexistence in a multicultural society, and a point of reference for the development of an inter-Orthodox, inter-denominational, and interfaith dialogue that will serve the Christian values and universal ideals.”
Metropolitan Cleopas subsequently officiated the opening of the photo exhibition showcasing the work of photographer George Vassiliou, entitled The Cathedral of Stockholm, in the church hall. The theme of the exhibition covers a wide spectrum of ecclesiastical and cultural activities. This exhibition marks the commencement of the fundraising campaign for the interior renovation projects set to take place in the Cathedral. It was considered the most fitting event to initiate this historic effort being that it coincided with the feast day of the Cathedral’s patron saint. This marks the first time since the construction of the Cathedral that a comprehensive renovation campaign of such proportions has been undertaken.
The celebrations concluded with a traditional Paschal luncheon in the church hall, where Metropolitan Cleopas thanked all the donors who made the luncheon possible – public and anonymous –, carried on the tradition of cracking eggs with the faithful, and exchanged Paschal wishes with all those in attendance.