It was Patriarch Bartholomew who first greeted Pope Francis at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, where the Pope arrived yesterday morning after meeting with Turkish officials in Ankara. After completing a visit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia museum, the Pope arrived at the Church of St. George, where the patriarch received him at the gate and ushered him inside to the ringing of bells.
Flanked by priests in gold brocaded robes carrying lighted tapers, the Pope and the Patriarch marched up the aisle. As male choristers chanted, the Pope sat solemnly by the altar. Later, the Church heads recited the Doxology Service, a prayer for peace and thanksgiving, blessing the faithful that fairly crowded the 19
Echoing Francis’ theme in his own welcoming speech, Patriarch Bartholomew said his guest “translated the love of the Chief Apostle to his brother, the First-Called Apostle,” referring to Peter and Andrew, their respective patrons.
At the end of the service, the two exchanged kisses of peace. During the embrace, the Pope, who is taller than the patriarch, asked for a blessing and dropped his head. The patriarch planted a kiss on his zuchetto, or skullcap
writes from Turkey.