This September, God’s grace bestowed upon us many blessings with the visit of His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. It had long been planned for His Beatitude to visit us in order to see our projects up close and to inaugurate the newly constructed buildings. The welcome reception given to him was magnificent. A large number of schoolchildren and faithful dressed in traditional costumes had reached the airport, and were waiting with great joy for their Spiritual Shepherd. A red carpet had been laid out from the plane’s staircase to the central building of the airport, and the army philharmonic began to play hymns befitting dignitaries, like a head of state.
At the airport, His Beatitude was received by government officials, the Egyptian Ambassador, the Honorary Ambassador of Greece, senior officers and of course, the clergy of the Metropolis.
The school children and the people started singing traditional songs, dancing and waving small flags of Madagascar and Greece. After the welcome reception and the first acquaintance at the airport, the procession began to head towards the Cathedral for the doxology. The priests, dressed in their vestments, were waiting for the Prelate on the right and left of the church forecourt, and when he arrived, singing Axion Esti (or “It is Truly Meet”), we all entered the holy church. The church was suffocatingly filled with all the Christians- young and old, and the doxology began. In the end, speeches were delivered and gifts were given as usual. That was the first part of the Patriarch’s visit.
On September 14, feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, His Beatitude officiated at the Metropolitan Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Along with the clergy of the Holy Metropolis, a con-celebration was held in the presence of political authorities and the Consul of Greece in Madagascar. His Beatitude performed the ceremony of circumambulation of the Holy Cross with due solemnity.
After the sacred service, followed the inauguration of the Metropolitan building, where the offices of the Holy Metropolis, library, bishop’s dwelling and hospitality spaces are housed.
In the end, His Beatitude awarded medals to volunteers and the permanent Greek volunteer of the Mission, Mr. Ioannis Antoniadis, who for several years along with his wife, has offered his services to the Madagascar Orthodox Mission.
On the same day, the opening of the state-of-the-art French Language School in Madagascar took place with a crowd of Orthodox and non-Orthodox people. The celebration included traditional songs and dances from school students and groups of ladies from the surrounding villages.
At the end of the celebration, speeches were delivered and gifts were exchanged as is customary here. It was an event that will remain in history and will always remind of ancient Greece since the school’s name is Greek: Plato’s Academy.
During his visit here, the Patriarch had the opportunity to meet with the President of the Government and exchange views on issues of interest to our Church. The President congratulated His Beatitude on the work and the contribution of our Church, since the charity and social work of the Holy Metropolis is known to the governmental actors.
The last scheduled meeting during the Patriarchal visit to Madagascar was that with the priests
The Patriarch had the opportunity to meet with the priests and have dinner with them. He listened to their problems and the difficulties they have to deal with, particularly with the issue of the entry of the Russian Patriarchate into the African Continent, and advised the priests on them.
We thank and praise God for all the blessings He has given us through our revered Prelate.
✝Ignatius of Antananarivo and Northern Madagascar