On Saturday, October 21, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate held an Agape Luncheon, in which Cappella Romana was honored with the Archon Sophia Award for Excellence.
Cappella Romana is a professional vocal ensemble that performs early and contemporary sacred classical music in the Christian traditions of East and West. Founded in 1991, Cappella Romana’s name refers to the medieval Greek concept of the Roman oikoumene (inhabited world), which embraced Rome and Western Europe, as well as the Byzantine Empire of Constantinople (“New Rome”) and its Slavic commonwealth. Dr. Alexander Lingas, Archon Mousikodidaskalos, is the musical director and founder of Cappella Romana.
After an invocation by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, Dr. Maria A. Limberakis welcomed the attendees and spoke on “The 2023 Religious Freedom Mission and the Role of the Archon Family.” Following lunch, Dr. Maria A. Limberakis and Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presented the Archon Sophia Award For Excellence to Cappella Romana. Mark Powell, Executive Director of Cappella Romana, and Archon Dr. Lingas then offered remarks.
“No other group in the world has Cappella Romana's singular focus, music of the authentic Christian inheritance, of Orthodoxy. There are Archons in this room who have shared our vision during our more than 32 years, and to all of you we are extremely grateful for this award,” said Mark Powell.
Archon Dr. Lingas concluded “On behalf of Cappella Romana, my profound thanks to the Archons of the Order of St. Andrew, for this great honor, the Sophia Award. Thank you.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco gave the closing benediction.
Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, observed: “Cappella Romana reminds us all of the breathtaking beauty of our tradition with its marvelous re-creation of what Byzantine sacred choral music actually sounded like in Hagia Sophia cathedral. In this, they illuminate and inspire us, and move us to redouble our efforts for the defense and protection of our Holy Mother Church. The importance of this cannot be understated, and they richly deserve the Sophia Award.”
Also at the luncheon, the participants in the inaugural Pilgrimage of Discovery presented their reports on the program, followed by a video. Funded by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Pilgrimage of Discovery was a pilot program conducted through the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Metropolis of Chicago from July 31 to August 7, 2023. It granted five young adults ages 23-28 from the Metropolis an all-expenses-paid round-trip journey to Constantinople to meet with His All-Holiness and travel to ancient holy sites of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, included the forcibly closed Halki School of Theology.
The annual Archon Agape Luncheon is a highlight of the Order’s Annual Archon Weekend, which was held this year in New York City from October 19 to 22. The Sophia Award for Excellence is given by the Order to an individual or individuals who have distinguished themselves in endeavors that serve the needs of the Holy Mother Church and the Sacred Mission of the Archons of the Great Church of Christ.
The Sophia Award for Excellence was inaugurated in 2021 and first presented to Santiago Calatrava, the internationally renowned architect who designed the Saint Nicholas Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, for his inspirational vision in the rebuilding of the Shrine. In 2022, it was awarded to Archon Dr. Nawaf and Rim Salameh and Archon Boris and Youlianna Gurov for their extraordinary generosity and invaluable assistance for the 2022 Archon Religious Freedom Mission to Bulgaria. Then in January 2023, it was presented to the United States Ambassador to Greece, George J. Tsunis in recognition of his service to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
On Thursday, October 19, 2023, Cappella Romana presented a Concert for Religious Freedom, an exclusive performance for FOUNDERS in good standing and new FOUNDERS of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation, at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. FOUNDERS of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation have committed to ensuring the financial foundation of the Holy Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, by pledging $100,000 over 10 years.
Cappella Romana also performed a musical tribute at the Athenagoras Human Rights Award banquet on Saturday, October 21, 2023.