Orthodox patriarch due for 11-hour city visit today Bartholomew to hold services, meet leaders

October 23, 1997|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's welcome for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, begins at Interstate 95.

As his motorcade arrives from Washington this morning for an 11-hour visit, he will be greeted by a billboard:

"Welcome to Baltimore, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome."

Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, has direct authority over the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America, as well as Orthodox churches in South America, Western Europe, Australia and Hong Kong. He is considered the "first among equals" among the patriarchs who lead the more than a dozen self-governing Orthodox churches.

"To the Orthodox, to the Greek Orthodox especially, he is like the pope," said Helen Monopolis, principal of the Greek school at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Highlandtown.

Last night at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, choirs and dancers went through a final dress rehearsal before today's events. The Rev. Constantine Monios, dean of the cathedral, said today is the culmination of seven months of planning.

"That's all I've done for seven months. It's consumed me," Monios said. "I have never been this excited about anything."

After meeting over breakfast this morning in Washington with Vice President Al Gore, Bartholomew will travel by motorcade up I-95, past the billboard, to the Cathedral of the Annunciation at Maryland and Preston streets, where he will conduct a Patriarchal Doxology, a formal prayer service, at 10: 30 a.m. Then Bartholomew will greet the public gathered outside from the portico of the cathedral.

Bartholomew will sit in a bishop's throne that was recently refurbished and that is crowned with a dome that was plated with 22-karat gold leaf.

At noon, he will go to City Hall for a meeting with representatives of the Baltimore-based International Orthodox Christian Charities, a humanitarian aid organization that was established five years ago.

The largest public event will be a 12: 45 p.m. luncheon at the Baltimore Convention Center. The more than 2,000 people expected to attend will munch on crab cakes and grilled chicken breasts with roasted potatoes as they watch a performance by pan-Orthodox dance troupes and listen to an address by the patriarch.

After a break, Bartholomew will participate in a 5 p.m. Service of Prayer and Praise at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will be the first time that an ecumenical patriarch will preach at a Roman Catholic church in the United States.

Bartholomew will sit in the chair used by Pope John Paul II during his October 1995 Camden Yards Mass. It was made for Archbishop John Carroll, who was the first bishop of Baltimore when it was established as the nation's first Roman Catholic diocese in 1789.

For the patriarch's visit, a triple-arch screen, similar to the iconostasis closing off the sanctuary in Orthodox churches, has been constructed at the front of the basilica's sanctuary.

"It's an historic moment, so I think it's nice to have a touch like this," said Cardinal William H. Keeler. "There will be many Orthodox attending, so it will help them to feel more at home."

The patriarch will attend a 6: 30 p.m. reception at the Walters Art Gallery and will dine afterward at Keeler's residence with members of the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue Commission. He is scheduled to depart Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 9: 15 p.m. for New York, where he will continue his monthlong visit.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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