Relics of 2 Saints to Return to Constantinople

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2004 ( John Paul II plans to return the relics of Saints Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, doctors of the Eastern Church, to the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople.

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The reconciliatory gesture will take place during an ecumenical celebration Nov. 27 in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy See announced.

The news was reported in the calendar of papal celebrations for the remaining weeks of 2004.

The relics will be returned three days before the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. As in previous years, a papal delegation will travel to Constantinople to attend the celebrations.

These acts take place in the year that marks the eighth centenary of the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders, an event for which John Paul II asked the Orthodox Church publicly for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church, when he visited Athens on May 4, 2001.

Some sources say the relics of the two saints were taken from Constantinople and brought to Rome during the sacking.

This will be John Paul II’s second meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I this year, as the ecumenical patriarch was in Rome at the end of June, for the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

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