TURKEY: Syriac Churches in Tur Abdin celebrate Feast of Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

TUR ABDIN — On 15 August, Syriac churches across Tur Abdin, a historic region in what is now southeastern Turkey encompassing significant locations such as Midyat, resounded with celebrations on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Arbo village hosted an event that extended well into the night, featuring performances by renowned singers Isaac Yacoub and Fahmy Baghandy. The festivities drew attendees from Tur Abdin villages as well as members of the diaspora.

In the serene setting of the Virgin Mary Monastery in Hah village, another event unfolded, accompanied by spiritual hymns performed by dedicated deacons. Annually, this monastery becomes a sacred gathering place for Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) worldwide, who converge to seek the intercession of the revered Mother of God.

The resonance of prayers extended beyond, enveloping Midyat, Sidari village, and Antakya, each commemorating the Feast of the Assumption.

A profound historical moment occurred at the iconic Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, where Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I presided over the annual Divine Liturgy, an event that has become a decade-long tradition in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. In his address, the Patriarch emphasized the significance of seeking intercession from the Virgin Mary, a figure revered for being raised to the highest echelons of holiness by God.

Although the monastery has remained the Trabzon region’s most visited tourist destination with over 1 million visitors every year, it was only partially reopened to worshippers in 2010 following an 88-year-long ban when the first Mass since 1923 was conducted by Patriarch Dimitri Bartholomew I.

Only one religious service is allowed per year. On 15 August, the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos or Feast of the Assumption, up to 500 worshipers are allowed to partake in a Divine Liturgy at the monastery’s church. A special pass issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is required.