On Wednesday, the 18th/31st of December 2014, the Patriarchate observed the memory of Our Father Modestus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, at the chapel dedicated to his name on the hill of Abu Tor, opposite St Sion in Southern Jerusalem.

St Modestus was the hegoumen of the Monastery of Abba Theodosius the Cenobiarch, who morally and tangibly encouraged and enhanced Christians in the Holy Land, and renovated churches and monasteries left in ruins after the 614 AD Persian raid. He succeeded Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem after His dormition.

On the day of the feast, the divine Liturgy was led by the Abbot at the Holy Monastery of the Shepherds in Beit-Sahur, Archimandrite Ignatius. Co-officiating were the Master of Ceremonies, Archimandrite Porphyrios, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and deacon Markos. The Head Cantor of the Church of the Resurrection sang in Greek, Russian and Arabic. Pilgrims, monks and nuns, as well as members of the Greek parish in Jerusalem, piously attended the service.

His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proceeded to venerate in the course of the liturgy.

On the conclusion of mass, Monk Antiochos, the Monastery’s supervisor, hosted the congregation to a reception in the forecourt.

From the Secretariat-General


On Tuesday, the 17th/30th of December 2014, the Annual Reception of the Heads of Christian Churches in the Holy Land took place at the Presidential Palace of Israel on the advent of the new year 2015.

The meeting was hosted by the President of Israel, Mr Reuven Rivlin. In his welcoming address, Mr Rivlin pointed out that on the occasion of the Hannukah, Christmas, and the advent of the New Year, guests gather to remember those who, unjustly, and due to religious fanaticism, were wronged, exploited and killed. “We grieve and pray for them, drawing on our Holy Scriptures, as God’s creations, as images of Him as our Joint Father, on the word of the prophet Malachias”, he said.

Against crimes committed in areas of worship we protest, as does Pope Francis of Rome. This message we give in this Land, the land of the prophets David, Solomon, Jesus and his adherents, and as children of the three Abrahamic Religions, children of a single Father, condemning violence against man and extending wishes for a peaceful and blessed New Year.

Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem addressed guests in English, see link:  https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2014/12/30/10866 .

From the Secretariat-General 



30 December 2014

Address at the Annual Reception on the Eve of the New Year
in honour of the Heads of the Churches
hosted by His Honour Mr. Reuven Rivlin
the President of Israel
with the Honourable Gilad Arden, Minister of the Interior

Your Excellency, Mr. President
Your Excellency, Mr. Arden
Your Eminences
Your Graces
Distinguished Members of the Government and Civic Leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this joyous season of light, We greet you, Mr. President, with the words of the Psalmist:

Your word is a lantern to my feet, and a light upon my path
(Ps. 118 (119): 105)

It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness
(Ps. 17 (18): 29 (28))

The Holy Land, which is home to all of us, shines with the divine Light. Here God and humanity have known a special and unique intimacy. In this season in particular, the world, caught up in the darkness of violence, poverty, persecution, and war looks to us, the communities of the Holy Land, for renewed hope and inspiration.

Hope and inspiration must, of course, find expression in practical ways, so that we may address the very real needs and concerns of the people, whom we serve, both as elected officials and religious leaders. Our precise tasks as political and religious leaders may be different, but first and foremost our care is always our people. In this region, we recognize the diversity of our peoples, and we understand that the harmonious co-existence of the Abrahamic faiths is essential to the integrity of the Holy Land.

As we acknowledge the importance of this harmonious co-existence, we must make it clear that the Churches condemn all violence, all acts of terror, and all attempts to persecute individuals and communities. We also condemn all crimes that are committed against shrines, places of worship, cemeteries, and other sacred sites. The peace that we seek for our region can never be built on the foundation of such acts.

In the work of building a society based on peace, justice, and reconciliation, we have learnt the power of dialogue. To be engaged in constructive dialogue does not mean that we have to settle every question, or reach a full consensus in every matter. The power of dialogue rests precisely in the fruit that it bears.

The chief fruit of genuine dialogue is a spirit of deeper understanding. Dialogue reduces tension, eradicates prejudice, and promotes compassion. These fruits of dialogue are essential to the health of the human community.

The Christian communities of the Holy Land place dialogue at the centre of our common mission. Although divided in some respects, the Churches have been committed to dialogue, and are now enjoying the fruits of this endeavor. We have worked seriously to eradicate animosity and prejudice, and to heal memories, and although this work continues, and there is still much to do, we have seen its results. Perhaps the most striking recent example of the fruits of our dialogue was the meeting earlier this year of His Holiness Pope Francis and His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This visible expression of common purpose was dialogue in action, and we cannot underestimate the power of such action to shape the consciousness of our people. When words fail us, our actions may speak more eloquently.

The Holy Land is a living witness to the dialogue between God and humanity. Here God and humanity have conversed down the ages. Here the divine presence has been made manifest among us. Here sacred history and eternity have met. In the divine-human dialogue we have the paradigm for our own dialogue among our different faith traditions and peoples. Dialogue in human affairs is therefore not a choice for us, but an inherent responsibility. Where true dialogue exists, the divine light shines brightly.

It is in this regard that the Status Quo has been, and remains, an essential foundation of true dialogue, and it is therefore the responsibility of all of us, whether in the civic or the religious sphere, to ensure that the traditional rights of all are upheld and respected. This Status Quo has deep roots in our collective history and consciousness, as well as sanctioned practices on the ground, which help to preserve the essential diversity of our region and beloved Holy Land.

In the interest of maintaining the Status Quo emerges the concern to ensure freedom of access for our faithful to the Holy Places for the celebration of the feasts of the Church. We indeed appreciate the difficult work of the authorities in maintaining safety and order, and we acknowledge the good will of many in leadership. But we also urge continued earnest attempts to find ways to expand and guarantee access for our respective communities and the many thousands of pilgrims who come to the Holy Land to take part in ceremonies of worship throughout the year.

It should be mentioned that the Heads of Churches of the Holy Land do not represent ourselves and our respective communities only. We represent the entire Christian world. Under the universally acknowledged senior status of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, we play a unique and crucial role as bridge-builders in the work of reconciliation
and the deepening of co-existence throughout our region. It is precisely because of our collective role that Jerusalem and the Holy Land maintain their unique religious, cultural and ethnic landscape.

As we celebrate this season of light, let us remember that committed, respectful dialogue is the truest basis for the longing of all our hearts for peace and reconciliation.

As we greet you, Mr. President, on behalf of the Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land on this special occasion, your first holiday season in your honourable presidential office, may God bless you in your new responsibilities, and may God bless our beloved Holy Land.

We wish you a happy and peaceful New Year. Hag sammeach!

Thank you.


His Beatitude
Patriarch of Jerusalem


On Sunday, the 15th/28th of December 2014, namely the Sunday of the Forefathers, the memory of the ancestors, according to the flesh, of our Lord Jesus Christ, was celebrated at the Patriarchate. Patriarch Abraham was the first to receive the Lord’s promise that “in his seed all the nations shall be blessed”. The feast was observed at the church dedicated to the Holy Forefathers in Beit-Sahur, the Village of the Shepherds, where shepherds living out in the fields near Bethlehem, saw the infant Lord, wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger. (Luke 2)

In this town, numbering approximately 15.000 inhabitants, half of whom are Arab-speaking Greek Orthodox, Patriarch Theophilos was welcomed at the entrance of the church. The Patriarch went on to lead the Divine Liturgy, with co-officiating prelates: Archbishops Aristarchos of Constantina, and Theophylaktos of Jordan, and the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem. Also in attendance were Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Hegoumen Ingatius, Archimandrite Ieronymus, the Arab-speaking vicars of the community, Archdeacon Evlogios and deacons Marcos. The Community’s Choir sang, while a crowd of faithful participated in piety.

During Communion, His Beatitude Theophilos preached the Word of God to the congregation.

In Arabic, the homily may be reached here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2014/12/28/8932

On the conclusion of mass, His Beatitude was hosted to lunch at the Magara Restaurant, where he spoke words of praise for Archimandrite Ignatius on his venerating, pastoral and charity work.

From the Secretariat-General



On Thursday, the 14th/27th of December 2014, the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, headed by His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited local Christian Churches in Jerusalem in celebration of Christmas according to the Gregorian calendar.

The Hagiotaphite Brotherhood follows the Julian calendar for all its feasts; however, it calls on Churches in Jerusalem on their own feast-days whilst the latter reciprocate the visits accordingly, as this custom contributes to reducing the occasional congestion of pilgrims and cultivating a climate of collaboration for the settlement of issues of Christian interest.

In the same context, the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood visited the Franciscan Friars and the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

During these visits, Patriarch Theophilos addressed Pierre Battista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, in English: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2014/12/27/10859

In his reply speech, the Custodian said the Franciscans were moved by the words of His Beatitude and that indeed they agree that the sacrament of the Incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh constitutes the basis of our diaconate in the Holy Land and that, encouraged by this fact, we must serve the Holy Shrines consistently and with devotion within collaboration in the benefit of Christians in the Holy Land.

Addresses in the same spirit were also exchanged between Patriarch Theophilos and Monsignor Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, at the Latin Patriarchate.

Special emphasis was placed on the testament of Christians in the Holy Land, projecting the message of peace and hope across the world, where innocent Christians and non-Christians are unjustly persecuted and murdered.

After these visits, Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda, Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, visited the Lutheran Church in the Holy Land, where festive addresses were exchanged between him and Bishop Munib Younan, as well as the Head of the German-speaking Lutheran Community in Jerusalem, Rev. Propst Wolfgang Schmidt.

From the Secretariat-General


27 December 2014


Dear Father Pizzaballa.
Your Eminences.
Your Graces.
Beloved Members of our Respective Fraternities,


With the joy of the angels, we greet you after your celebration of the Feast of the Nativity with the words of one of the great hymns of the Orthodox Church:

Your birth, Ο Christ our God,
Has shed the light of knowledge upon the earth.
For by your birth those who adored stars,
Were taught by a star, to worship you,
The Sun of Justice, and to know you,
The Dawn from on high.
Ο Lord, glory to you,
(Apolytikion of the Nativity)


The Light that breaks into our darkened world at Christmas is the one, true, uncreated Light, the incarnate Logos, whose birth at Bethlehem signifies the great reconciliation of heaven and earth. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is at once fully human and fully divine, has bridged the great chasm between God and humanity for ever.

We have been entrusted with the common mission of serving and guarding the Holy
Places, which are both the witness of the Incarnation and the guarantee of our presence in the Holy Land. At this season the eyes of the world are turned to the Holy Land and to the Christian communities here in eagerness and hope. Our joy and responsibility is to keep alive the Gospel of Cod’s love, reconciliation, and peace, and our mission is to keep the Light of Christmas burning brightly both for our local Christian faithful as well as for the whole world. For the One who is the “Sun of Justice and the Dawn from on high” must reach to all humanity, particularly at a time when our region and our world are plunged into terrible difficulty and darkness. And those who bear the name of Christ are persecuted together with their innocent fellow-men.

One of the good signs of hope to the world is the mutual co-operation and mutual understanding that exists between our Fraternities. Those who are entrusted with the care of the Holy Places must exemplify the highest ideals and disciplines of dialogue and an ability to work together for the benefit of all, especially the many thousands of pilgrims who come to us every year for spiritual refreshment.

We know that dialogue and mutual co-operation bear genuine fruits, for we see it here. And we know that such dialogue and mutual co-operation are essential for the benefit of the Holy Places, the maintenance of the. Christian character of Jerusalem, and the strengthening of the Christian presence in our region. All of us who,have been called to this responsibility of leadership in the Christian communities of the Holy Land must place this work at the forefront of our attention at all times, so that together we may ensure the well-being of all.

The co-operation between our Fraternities bears fruit every day for the sake of the faithful, and contributed significantly to the great event of reconciliation that occurred last May at the meeting here in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre between His Holiness Pope Francis and His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.

We pray especially at this Christmas season that this co-operation will grow and deepen. Dialogue has been proven to be the most effective means not just of resolving disputes but of reaching a deeper appreciation of the gifts of our respective communities, establishing agreements, and furthering the work of our common mission in ensuring that Jerusalem and the Holy Land continue to be a beacon of hope for the world.

We wish you, dear Father Pizzaballa, the Franciscan Fraternity, and all your people, a very happy and holy Christmas and a peaceful New Year, May Cod bless you.
Thank you.

His Beatitude
Patriarch of Jerusalem


On Thursday, the 12th/25th of December 2014, the Patriarchate celebrated the feast of St Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, in the Holy Monastery dedicated to his name. The Monastery is adjacent to the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem before Damascus Gate.

As is well-known, St Spyridon, a father in the Church of the 4th century, participated in the First Ecumenical Council as a proponent of the homoousion, the same substance between the Son and the Father. A humble, serene and virtuous man, he was offered by God the gift of performing miracles. His holy relic is kept on the island of Corfu, Greece.

The divine Liturgy was held on the day of the feast, led by Archbishop Dorotheos of Avila with co-officiating Hieromonks and Arab-speaking presbyters. The service was attended by a pious congregation of monks, nuns, Greek and Arab-speaking Jerusalemites and pious pilgrims.

During the service, Patriarch Theophilos arrived at the Monastery to venerate, accompanied by Hagiotaphite Fathers.

On the conclusion of the divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen, Archimandrite Sergios, courteously hosted the Prelatic Retinue and the congregation to a reception in his quarters.

From the Secretariat-General



On Tuesday, the 10th/23rd of December 2014, novice Athanasios Spanos was tonsured as monk by His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, at the chapel of the Holy Pentecost.

Novice Athanasios, hailing from Mount Athos, first learned of the Patriarchate through its official website, upon which he requested to serve as novice at the Shrine of the Holy Cavern within the Basilica of the Nativity.

Performing the tonsure, His Beatitude gave f. Athanasios the name Akakios and advised him with paternal words to respond to his obligations and show obedience, humbleness and self-denial whilst piously serving the shrine and treating visitors with serenity and leniency.

After the tonsure, His Beatitude received the tonsured monk at the Patriarchate, where he was offered wishes by the Fathers.

From the Secretariat-General




On Wednesday, the 11th/24th of December 2014, the king of Jordan visited the historical city of Karak (ancient Kyriakoupolis) in South Jordan, to meet with subjects of his kingdom, Muslims and Christians alike, on the occasion of Christmas.

Today, the city numbers approximately 10.000 inhabitants, whereas the overall Governorate of Karak has a population of 100.000, of whom 6,000 are Christians, 3,000 Orthodox among them.

The city has a long history. It belonged to the Byzantium until the year 638 AD, when the Byzantines were defeated by Caliph Omar Al-Hatab.

The meeting was held in order to further strengthen the current peaceful symbiosis between Christians and Muslims, enjoyed by the citizens of Jordan owing to the pacifying rule of King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein, advocating religious tolerance.

His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was the first among speakers to address guests in Arabic, through f. Issa Musleh, the Patriarchate’s Arab-speaking press liaison. The speech will be posted soon.

From the Secretariat-General


23 December 2014

Dr Landau,
Mr. Halevi,
Your Beatitudes,
Your Eminences,
Your Graces,
Beloved Leaders of the Jewish and Muslim Communities of Jerusalem,
Distinguished Civic Leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for us to address this gathering during this holiday season on behalf of the Christian communities of the Holy Land, and we thank you, Dr Landau and MrHalevi, for bringing us together today.

At this time of the year, when the eyes of the world are focused on the Holy Land, our hearts are turned both to our local indigenous Christian communities as well as to the many thousands of pilgrims who make their way to the Holy Places, especially at Christmas. Both the local Christian communities and our pilgrims remind us of the universal significance of the Holy Places.

For all of us who call the Holy Land our home, Jew, Christian, and Muslim, the Holy Places, many of which we share, are not simply places of private devotion. They are also a sign to us of genuine interfaith dialogue and relationship. For here divinity and humanity have enjoyed true physical and spiritual relationship and dialogue. They realize for us our common human nature and our common human destiny.

At Christmas and Hannukah we celebrate the feast of the divine, uncreated light. That light does not discriminate, but shines on all. This is the light that has been revealed in human history to our forebears, and just as they were enlightened and showed us the way, so we must follow in their footsteps and show the way to others.

Recent sad and devastating events in our region cannot extinguish this divine light, and we to whom the spiritual leadership of our communities has been entrusted cannot be distracted or put off our course. Our mission has always been, and continues to be, to point to this light, so that it may be a clear beacon to a world in terrible need of the reconciliation and the love of God.

This light has been revealed to us in particular times and places in history. Therefore we who follow the three great Abrahamic traditions of faith believe firmly that the light is truth, and that truth is light. We should not be, we cannot be, afraid of the darkness. As we read in the Psalms:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalms 26 (27): 1-2

Our God-given mission is precisely this: to guard and proclaim this light as the hope of the world, the sustenance of our local Communities and the encouragement of pilgrims. The Holy City of Jerusalem, the home of us all is essential to this spiritual mission, and no one has the right to attempt to extinguish this light.
We wish to thank you, Dr Landau and MrHalevi, for your efforts in helping to maintain Holy Land as a safe place for pilgrims, and for all that you do to support the leadership of the Christian communities. In this holiday season, may God bless you your work, and may God bless all the peoples of the Holy Land.

We wish all a Happy Christmas and ChagSammeach.

Thank you.


His Beatitude
Patriarch of Jerusalem