The Moni Panagias Soumela (Μονή Παναγίας Σουμελά) Monastery has conducted its seventh annual ritual since the Turkish regime allowed it to occur after 88 years of absent Christian life.

The monastery is located on the outskirts of Matzouka (Ματζούκα, Turkish: Maçka) district of Trapezounta (Τραπεζούντα, Turkish: Trabzon) Province and was built 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I.

Soumela Monastery rose to prominence because of a famous icon of the Virgin Mary believed to have been painted by the Apostle Luke.

Today, the Orthodox Church were permitted to performed a service on the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary,” and started preparations by coming to the historical Soumela Monastery in the morning by minibuses.

Assumption of Mary celebrated in Pontian monastery among icons destroyed by Turkish vandals 3

Police teams took security precautions around the monastery, and a search was made in the monastery with a dog. Visitors who came to the entrance of the monastery before the ritual were taken in in a controlled manner with the entrance cards given to them by the Trapezounta Governorship.

Due to the Covid-19 measures, about 70 people attend the ceremony, which has not been held for 4 years due to the so-called restoration of the monastery. The European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger was also among the participants.

Assumption of Mary celebrated in Pontian monastery among icons destroyed by Turkish vandals 4

Due to the ritual, no other visitors was accepted to the Soumela Monastery until 14:00, except the delegation.

Although Turkey closed the monastery for several years, claiming to have done restoration work, as evident from the photos and video, many of the icons and murals have been significantly destroyed.

15th August 2020

15th August 2020Panagía Soumelá Trapezoúnta 15th August 2020

Posted by Greek City Times on Saturday, 15 August 2020

After a long recovery period, the monastery reopened on July 28 and began to receive visitors. However, those who visited the monastery, which dates back to the 13th century, shared photos on social media with the destruction they saw there.

Close up of the destruction can be seen here.

On this day, Christians celebrate the body of Mary being ascended into heaven at the end of her life on earth.