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Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is the head bishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem , ranking fourth of nine Patriarchs in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The history of the Patriarchate begins from the first Christian community in the years of the Apostles. The Church and the Episcopacy of Jerusalem was and is the "Mother of all Churches".

The patriarchate had an adventurous history and has known many conquerors and persecutions. But there were always clergymen and faithful people who with big sacrifices and sufferings established the vested rights of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

History of the Patriarchate

In 52 AD takes place the first Apostolic Council in Jerusalem.

In 70 AD the Roman emperor Titus captures and destroys Jerusalem. The Romans demolish the Jewish temple and under difficult conditions the Christians emigrate in Pella in the east bank of Jordan river.

In 135 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian builds on the ruins of Jerusalem a new roman city and names it Aelia Capitolina and permits the Christians to come back. However the Jewish are not permitted to come in town. In the meantime christianism spreads all over Palestine and a lot of communities and episcopacies were created but the primacy had the Metropolis of Caesaria.

Thanks to roman emperor Constantine the Great and his mother St. Helena who builds churches all over Palestine, the Jerusalem Patriarchate gained its previous glory. It is the time of the conflict between the Patriarchate of Caesaria and Jerusalem for the primacies. Finally the fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD recognises the sublimity of Jerusalem and is granted status of Patriarchate with jurisdiction over Palestine and the east banks of Jordan river. During the Byzantine period (5th to 7th century) the Patriarchate had five metropolies, 60 episcopacies and hundreds of monasteries.

In 637 AD, the Arabs who had conquered Jerusalem, restrict the Patriarchate activities who although had authority over Christian affairs social or religious, and the Patriarch is recognised as the highest authority of all the Christians on earth.

When the crusaders conquered the Holy Lands in 1099 AD, they appointed their own patriarch (the schism between the East Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches preceded in 1054 AD) but they weren�t able to abolish the Greek orthodox patriarch who stayed for safety reasons in Constantinople.

After the eviction of the crusaders in 1187 the orthodox Patriarch returns to his throne while the crusaders Patriarchate moves to Akko and remains there until 1230 AD when after the final eviction of the crusaders from Palestine, is abolished.

The years that followed under the occupation of the Mamluks (13th-15th century) were the most cruel and tragic the Patriarchate ever encountered. The Mamluks who hated the Christians tried to destroy everything Christian.

In the 13th century the Armenian Patriarchate is established.

In the 14th century Franciscan monks arrive in the Holy Land and together with monophysites of different nationalities like Copts, Ethiopians and Syrians organise in ecclesiastical communities and claim rights over the pilgrimages.

In 1517 AD the Ottomans conquer Jerusalem and the Patriarchate�s struggle to salvage the pilgrimages, not only against the Turks but also against the demands of the other Christians, continues.

In 1856 AD the scene clears with the confirmation of the Status Quo of the Pilgrimages in the Paris council.

Since then begins a new era of reformation of the Patriarchate. All the Christian world and in particular the - at last- unoccupied Greek state contributes with donations. Monks and contributors buy land, build churches and monasteries, reform the ruined pilgrimages establishing the necessary basis for the Patriarchate�s sustenance.
First Secretary: Archbishop of Constantinis Aristarhos
Address:Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of JERUSALEM, P.O. Box 19 632, Tel. & Fax: 282.048
The majority of the Orthodox faithful in the area under the Patriarch of Jerusalem's jurisdiction are Palestinian, though there are many Russians, Romanians, and Georgians living there as well. The Patriarchate's hierarchy is dominated by Greeks, which in effect excludes the Arab-speaking majority of the region's Orthodox faithful from the Church's upper ranks; this is a point of endless contention between Greeks in the Patriarchate, who are backed by the Greek government in this regard, and the Palestinians, many of whom have left the Church for U.S.-influenced Evangelical  churches or other faiths in recent decades.

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