The Pontian Society of Sydney Panagia Soumela is marking its 60th anniversary with a gift to the church of Agios Stefanos, that being a replica of the icon of Panagia Soumela.

The organisation will unveil the gift at the church in Hurlstone Park on Sunday 19 May, which will also feature a memorial service for the victims of the Pontian Greek Genocide.

The icon of Panagia Soumela holds great significance with the Pontian community, serving as an important symbol of faith, resilience and devotion for many Pontian Greeks following their forcible removal from their ancestral lands.

The icon of Panagia Soumela, originally housed in the ancient Monastery of Soumela in Trabzon present-day Turkey, became a beacon of hope and resilience for the Pontian diaspora.

Photo: Supplied

The image of the Virgin Mary depicted in the icon was seen as a protector and guide, offering solace and strength to the displaced community as they all relocated and settled into their new homes.

The association stressed that the gifted icon to celebrate their 60th anniversary is intended to highlight the enduring roots they maintain with their identity.

“This gesture not only showcases the strong ties to our Pontian heritage but also serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy we aim to leave for future generations,” the group said in a statement.

“By offering this exquisite icon to the church, we symbolize our commitment to preserving and honouring our culture here in Sydney.”

The Pontian Society of Sydney added that the gift is “a pledge of our continued presence and support for the community and the church, ensuring that the spirit of Pontos, its sacred traditions and beliefs, remain and thrive for years to come”.