Picture gallery: Norwich’s Greek community gathers for ceremony

Traditions dating back to the birth of Christianity were kept alive in Norwich as members of the Greek community came together this weekend.

Thick with the heady aroma of incense and echoing to the sound of sombre hymns, the Greek Orthodox church on Recorder Road, Norwich, hosted His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateria and Great Britain.

Members of the congregation welcomed the Lord Mayor, Tom Dylan, Church of England Bishop Graham Jones and Father James Walsh, dean of Norwich's Roman Catholic Cathedral. They were celebrating in advance of Our Lady's Day (the Annunciation) on Friday.

Maria Chryssafi, a member of the church committee, said: 'This is one of the key dates in the Greek orthodox calendar and it is also a chance for us to come together as a community.

'There are some 100 Greek families in Norwich and a large population in Great Yarmouth. Not all of them know about the church so we are keen to encourage more people to become involved.'

As well as the Greek Orthodox community, there are also Russian and Romanian Orthodox communities in Norwich.

Costas Bell explained that the religion dates back thousands of years and has remained unchanged by reformation since Christianity was legalised by Constantine.

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He added: 'We venerate icons that have been stylised since Egyptian times - an icon produced today which look the same as an ancient icon. The ceremonial robes date back to the time of the Byzantine empire. We do not change, the ceremony today is the same as those that have been held generation after generation.'

The service began at 9am and continued until 1pm. As well as local people, members of the Greek community from across the country travelled to Norwich for the celebration. In the afternoon food prepared for the Lenten fast was served at Dunston Hall hotel near Norwich.