St Stephanos church receives Panagia Soumela icon from Pontian Society of Sydney

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The Pontian Society of Sydney presented a sacred icon of Panagia Soumela to St Stephanos Greek Orthodox Church at Hurlstone Park on Sunday, May 19.

The event included a Divine Liturgy as well as the first unveiling and procession of the sacred icon, along with a memorial service for the souls of the victims of the Genocide of the Hellenes of Pontos.

The icon of Panagia Soumela is deeply intertwined with the history and identity of the Pontian Greeks. Following the Greek Genocide and population exchange of the early 20th century, many Pontian Greeks were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the Pontos region of modern-day Turkey.

This traumatic event resulted in a dispersal of the Pontian Greek community across various parts of the world, with many finding refuge in Greece and other countries such as Australia.

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The icon of Panagia Soumela, originally housed in the ancient Monastery of Soumela in Trabzon, present-day Turkey, became a beacon of hope and resilience for the Pontian diaspora. The image of the Virgin Mary depicted in the icon was seen as a protector and guide, offering solace and strength to the displaced community.

In times of hardship and uncertainty, the icon serves as a source of comfort and reassurance for the Pontian Greeks, reminding them of their enduring heritage and the enduring power of faith.

The icon donation acts as a pledge of support for the community and the church ensuring that the spirit of Pontos, its sacred traditions and beliefs, remain and thrive for years to come.

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