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Orthodox Christians have held their first mass at an ancient monastery in Turkey for almost eight decades after the government loosened restrictions on religious expression.

Worshippers flocked from Russia, Greece and other countries to the service led by Patriach Barthlomew, their spirtual leader.

The Sumela monastery is built into the side of a mountain in Trabzon, a city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast

They used to be some 300,000 Greeks living there.

But after a 1923 treaty which defined the borders of Greece and Turkey, the Greeks left the region and the Sumela monastery was abandoned.

The mass was to mark the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, who the faithful believe was taken up to heaven on August 15 after her death.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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