On the weekend of May 13-14, 2017, the transposition of the relics of St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra in Lycia was celebrated at the hermitage that bears his name in the city of Rättvik, Sweden, located three hours north of Stockholm.
On Saturday evening, Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia officiated the service of Great Vespers. Afterwards, a dinner reception was offered courtesy of Mrs. Fotini Batsela, President of the Ladies Philoptochos Society of the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm, which was attended by the Rev.
Peder Bergqvist, Director of the Ecumenical Center in Rättvik – where the ever-memorable Fr. Eusebios Vittis worked for a number of years – accompanied by his entourage and the family of Mr. & Mrs. Bengt Svedberg.
The following day, Sunday, May 14, 2017, the Metropolitan presided over the Archieratical Divine Liturgy, where he was assisted by the Very Rev.
Archimandrite Alexander Loukatos, pastor of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo and the Rev. Presbyter Athanasios Melas, pastor of the St. Paul the Apostle parish in Uppsala.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a blessing of the loaves service was held for the health of the faithful in attendance, along with a memorial service for the repose of the hermitage’s founder, the ever-memorable Fr. Eusebios Vittis.
A luncheon followed, courtesy of Mr. George Tzanis, with Greek Ambassador to Sweden Mr. Dimitrios Touloupas and his spouse in attendance, together with his aide Mr. Christos Savlakis and a large number of faithful who made the trip from Stockholm, Uppsala, Rättvik, Gävle, as well as Oslo.
A group of faithful from the parish of the Transfiguration of Christ in Stockholm, under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate of Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe and the Hon.
Mr. Michael Agaiby, representing the Swedish Christian Study Center Bilda, were also on hand. Mr. Cosmas Plakou of Oslo chanted the hymns during the service.
In his sermon, Metropolitan Cleopas thanked the Orthodox clergy who participated in the holy services, as well as Ambassador Touloupas and his entourage, and the faithful who came from near and far alike to honor St. Nicholas.
He offered special thanks to Fr. Eusebios’ spiritual daughter Ms. Christina Chrysovergi for undertaking the initiative to organize the pilgrimage from Stockholm, and congratulated all those who contributed to the ongoing completion of the iconography in the hermitage’s chapel, while announcing that the beautification of the hermitage’s surrounding yard will follow, along with the re-publication of the ever-memorable Fr. Eusebios’ theological studies in Greek and Swedish.
The Metropolitan called on all those present to pray ceaselessly so that the hermitage may soon be blessed to house a dedicated monastic brotherhood ensuring that this sacred space will serve as a center of prayer and spiritual contemplation that will continually draw the faithful to it.
The hermitage was established by the ever-memorable hieromonk Fr. Eusebios Vittis in 1973.
Following his permanent return to Greece and falling asleep in the Lord, the association of friends of the hermitage known as the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Brotherhood undertook its maintenance.
The hermitage was completely destroyed in a fire in October 2010, and when the new building was constructed, it remained empty until October 2014, when it was transferred to the Holy Metropolis of Sweden, which undertook its complete renovation and fully equipped it.
This hermitage represents the first Greek Orthodox monastery in all Scandinavia.
Photo credit: V. Rev. Alexander Loukatos, Fotini Batsela, Cosmas Plakou, and Michael Agaiby.