Historical visit to Romania of one of the most proeminent spiritual leaders: the Alexandrion Foundation received, between 21st-27th of September, a guest with an extraordinary influence on the interfaith communities. His Beatitude Youssef Absi, the Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church from Antioch and All the East visited Romania for the first time, upon the invitation of the Alexandrion Foundation. During his stay in Romania, His Beatitude Absi visited Orthodox and Catholic establishments, representative for Romania and met with their leaders, had meetings with representatives of the Presidency and visited the production facilities of the Alexandrion Group. The Patriarch was accompanied to his visits and meetings by his delegation and by Mr. Nawaf Salameh, the President and Founder of the Alexandrion Group and of the Alexandrion Foundation.

His Beatitude Absi is a laureate of the Constantin Brâncoveanu Awards Gala 2020, within which the Alexandrion Foundation granted Him the honorary distinction.

His journey to Romania began with a visit to Ghighiu Monastery from Prahova county, where His Beatitude Absi prayed for world peace and peace of the souls of the deceased, at the wonder-making icon of Virgin Mary from the church, donated to Ghighiu Monastery by the Bishop Vasile Samaha from Sergiopolis, Syria, in 1958.

On September 22nd, His Beatitude Absi was a special guest at the Bishops’ Conference, organized by the Roman-Catholic Archdiocese from Bucharest at the Carmelite Monastery from Ciofliceni, where he met with Roman-Catholic and Greek-Catholic Bishops from Romania. Within the conference, the Patriarch presented the situation of the Middle East Christians.

One of the important visits made by His Beatitude Absi during his stay in Romania, was at the Romanian Patriarchy, where He met with the Holy Father Varlaam Ploieşteanul, Patriarchal Vicar Bishop. At the end of the meeting, His Beatitude Absi shared impressions about his visit to our country, that he called, „a pilgirmage visit”.

„I came to Romania upon the invitation of one of our Christians, I visited a few monasteries and churches, but what touched me the most was the faith of the Romanian people. The visit that I have just made at the Romanian Patriarchy was an opportunity for me to get to know, even if only briefly, the Romanian Orthodox Church. I have realized that the Romanian Orthodox Church not only takes care of its believers, but also of those from other religious communities” said His Beatitude Absi.

The Alexandrion Foundation granted His Beatitude Absi its honorary distinction

A special day, with a special significance for the Alexandrion Foundation and the history of Constantin Brâncoveanu Awards Gala was September 24th, the day when Mr. Nawaf Salameh, handed His Beatitude Absi, the distinction of the Alexandrion Foundation. The ceremony took place at the Romanian Academy, in the presence of the President of Constantin Brâncoveanu Awards Gala, Acad. Răzvan Theodorescu and members of the jury.

The Alexandrion Foundation granted this distinction to His Beatitude Absi within the 2020 gala organized online, for His extraordinary influence on the interfaith communities and the exceptional aspiration to lead by exhortation the Greek-Catholic Melkite Church.

“I have always admired Romania, for its culture, its tradition, its cultural and spiritual heritage and I hope that in the future the relations between our countries and our churches will continue and consolidate. There are cultural exchanges between our countries and religious exchanges between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Greek Melkite Catholic Church and I believe that this tradition, which began during the time of my predecessors, must continue. For us, Romania has been like an elder brother and we are proud of this relationship. Mr. Nawaf Salameh, thank you once again for this honour” said His Beatitude Absi.

“The mission of the Alexandrion Foundation and my mission, as well, is to honour the cultural heritage left by Constantin Brâncoveanu, through awards that reward the people with remarkable professional accomplishments, true values and sources of inspiration for all of us. This mission will continue both in Romania and abroad, by offering, as well, awards to personalities from the Middle East, an area where Constantin Brâncoveanu had a tremendous influence. I believe that there are 2000 years-old ties between the Romanian, Syrian and Lebanese people and through the Alexandrion Foundation we want to continue to contribute to the consolidation of these ties” said Mr. Nawaf Salameh.

On the second day of His historical visit to Romania, His Beatitude Absi also visited the Alexandrion Group production facilities: the Alexandrion Saber 1789 Distilleries and The Iconic Estate Cellar, both located in Dealu Mare region, where he was provided by the team with detailed information about the history of the group, the production process, the distribution network and the awards won by the spirits and wines in international competitions.

High level meeting at the Cotroceni Palace

His Beatitude Absi and Mr. Nawaf Salameh had a high level meeting at the Cotroceni Palace, with Sergiu Nistor, Presidential Advisor within the Culture, Cults and National Minorities Department and the Holy Father Mihai Frăţilă, Diocesan Bishop of the Greek-Catholic Diocese “Sfântul Vasile cel Mare” from Bucharest. During the meeting, they talked about the situation of the Christians from the Middle East, the long and tight relationship between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, as well as the high number of young people that come from the Middle East to Romania to study.

His Beatitude Absi ended his visit to Romania by officiating the Sunday religious service at the Maronite Catholic Church Saint Charbel Makhluf Bucharest.

The Greek Melkite Catholic Church is a “sui iuris” church, in communion with the Roman Catholic Church since 1724 and reunites about 2 million Catholic Melkites, all of whom are Arabic-speaking. The Divine Liturgy of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church is celebrated, according to the rite written by St. John Chrysostom in the three Patriarchates, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and in the diaspora.

His Beatitude Youssef Absi, the Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church from Antioch and All the East, was born in Damascus (Syria) on June 20th 1946. He studied phylosophy and teology at the Minor Seminary of the Paulist Fathers – Harissa (Lebanon) and holds a BA in phylosophy and teology and a PHD in musicology and Greek hymnography from the Saint-Esprit University – Kaslik (Lebanon). On May 6th 1973 he began His Novitiate under the direction of the White Fathers – Gap (France). In 2001 he was ordained Bishop and became Patriarchal Auxiliary – Raboueh (Lebanon). Between 2003-2017 he was a Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus.

On June 21st 2017 His Beatitude Absi was elected Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church from Antioch and All the East.