Members of the Greek Orthodox community in Athens were left aghast over the weekend after a Divine Liturgy at the Holy Temple of Agios Panteleimon was interrupted by a foreign man who burst into the church, seized the microphone, and began shouting what local reporters say were Quranic verses.
The strange incident, which took place during the liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, a holy day in Eastern Christianity immediately preceding Palm Sunday which glorifies Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany, was caught on video and saw the perpetrator promptly escorted out of the church by two members of the choir, the Greek news portal Iefimerida reports.
As the incident unfolds the priest leading the service can be heard telling the shaken congregation to “calm down,” saying: “do not panic with these things happen in our neighborhood.” By the time police arrived at the scene, the man had disappeared from the Holy Temple’s premises.
The perpetrator’s motivation, at this point, remains unclear, although some in Greek media have speculated he may have been under the influence of some kind of substance at the time.
The incident comes just days after Catholics in Spain were harassed and attacked during two Holy Week processions—one held on Palm Sunday and the other on Maundy Thursday—by groups of anti-Christian foreigners.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, the second-largest Christian church which has some 220 million members across the world, will celebrate Easter this Sunday, April 24th.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.