Jerusalem, 22 October 2014



Professor Rubenson,

Distinguished Members of the Research Group,

Your Eminences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 We welcome you warmly to Jerusalem and to this meeting of your research group as you continue your explorations into the relationship between early Christian monasticism and the paideia of late antiquity. This is a fruitful field of study, in which much work remains to be done, and we encourage you in your research and in your efforts to make your findings, which are so much needed in our day, well known in the scholarly world.

 Over the last 40 years, the study of Late Antiquity has been transformed. Because of the work of the great scholar, Peter Brown, and his colleagues and successors in the field, we no longer view this period of history in the negative light of our predecessors. Rather, we see in Late Antiquity a remarkable richness, not least in this part of the world, which formed the Eastern Roman Empire. New discoveries and fresh readings of texts and other physical evidence have broadened the picture for us of life between the second and the eighth centuries throughout the Mediterranean world.

We have long known about the ambiguous relationship between the emerging Christian civilization and its classical predecessor. Several Christian authors wrestled with the question of how Christianity was to relate to the though and literature of the classical world. Some early Christian writers opposed the reading of classical literature, while other, most notably Saint Basil in his well-known Letter to Young Men, saw the potential benefits of such reading under the careful tutelage of a master.

It is not surprising that we are discovering, particularly through your research, that the relationship between early Christianity and classical paideia is even more multi–layered and subtle than we first imagined. And since the influence of monasticism on the life of the Church from the fourth century on was so pervasive, a proper understanding of the role of monasticism, especially in the development of Christian culture, is paramount.

 As Peter Brown says in his now classic book, The World of Late Antiquity, in this region “monasticism was the bridgehead by which the fringes of the classical world entered the culture and politics of the Roman world” (London, The Folio Edition 2014, p.74).

 He also reminds us that in the East monasticism did not “stand aloof” from the community; rather, it “flowed directly into the life of the great cities” (ibid., p.75). In this respect, Saint Justin Martyr speaks about the logos spermatikos, that in any cultural expression there are seeds of truth. “In every person”, he wrote, “there is a divine particle, reason,“ and according to Saint Justin, whenever human beings use this reason, the Divine Logos is at work in them, whether the know or acknowledge this or not.

 When we turn to the subject of monasticism, we see that monasticism flourished in this region from the earliest days of the movement in the fourth century. Monasticism spread north from Egypt and Gaza. Even today, for example, we have surviving evidence in the name El Arish of the famous Saint Hilarion of the Gaza region. Christians in the Holy Land who desired to make this radical and complete commitment to the Gospel found in the Judean desert an ideal environment. For here Saint John the Baptist first lived the ascetic life and his voice was heard as “one crying out in the wilderness” (Mt. 3:3).

 There was a time when there were hundreds of monastic settlements in this region, and the most important of them, the Brotherhood of the Tomb of Christ, dates from the early fourth century and has given itself to the spiritual mission of guarding and serving the Holy Places ever since. Mar Sabba, one of our great monasteries, is also one of the oldest monasteries of the strict monastic askesis in continuous occupation in the world. Nor should we forget in this regard the monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula, a monastery of equal antiquity and importance. It seems right, therefore, that here in the Holy Land the two primary aspects of your research should find a happy meeting place.

 We highly commend your work in this field. The results of your research will benefit not only scholarship, but also the life of the Church. Monasticism is a living aspect of the life of the Church in the Holy Land, and monasticism is a sign to the Church and to the world of the complete giving of the self to God. Influenced early by the classical paideia, monasteries have become in their turn not simply communities of celibates of destinations for pilgrims, but places where Christian culture is preserved and deepened. Without monastic communities in East and West, so much Christian culture and civilization would have been lost over the centuries.

 The ultimate purpose of Christian monasticism –and this distinguishes it from the concept of classical paideia- is the attainment of the contemplation of the glory of God that was manifested on Mount Tabor by Christ to his disciples in the Transfiguration. The metaphysical concept of divinity of the classical paideia was taken up in the theological shadow (skia) on Mount Sinai to Moses, became incarnate in Bethlehem, and manifested as “Uncreated Light” in the glorified person of Jesus Christ.

We wish you well in your conference and in your work and we are glad to welcome you to the Patriarchate, the living embodiment of the monastic heritage of this land. May God bless you all your academic deliberations.

 Thank you.


His Beatitude


Patriarch of Jerusalem


On Wednesday, the 9th/22nd of October 2014, His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, addressed the Conference organized by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, entitled “Education and Literary Activity in Early Palestinian Monasticism”. The Patriarch spoke in English, and His speech may be reached here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2014/10/22/9534

This distinguished Israeli Jerusalemite Foundation undertakes promotional events centered around the science of Music and other sciences.

The current Conference is organized on the initiative of the Foundation’s Director, Mr Gabriel Motzkin and of Post-Doctoral Fellow, Mrs Chrysi Kotsifou. It is a two-day event featuring lectures by various researchers. For further information please visit: Education and Literary Activity in Early Palestinian Monasticism

From the Secretariat-General


On Wednesday, the 9th/22nd of October 2014, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Pavlo Klikmkin, accompanied by the Ukrainian ambassador to Tel Aviv and a group of his associates, visited the Patriarchate.

His Excellency the Minister and his retinue were warmly received by H.B. Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, and Hagiotaphite Fathers. An interesting discussion took place during the meeting, on the principles and values of Orthodoxy and how difficult it is today to safeguard them in the face of globalization and the European Union’s terms and conditions. Reference was also made to the fact that the Church does not interfere in political affairs.

On the occasion of the meeting, His Beatitude conferred on Mr Klimkin the medal of the Great Crusader of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, in recognition of his contribution to the “synallelia”, namely symphony, between the Church and the State.

Touched, the Honourable Mr Klimkin thanked His Beatitude and pledged to dedicate all his powers towards serving his country and the Orthodox Church in the struggle for man’s salvation. He then went on to venerate at the Holy Sepulcher, Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

From the Secretariat-General



On Tuesday, the 8th/21st of October 2014, representatives of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, amongst whom Mrs Chrysi Kotsyfou of Greece, and Mr Samuel Rubenson, alongside their associates in organizing a Conference on Early Palestinian Monasticism , visited Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem.

The representatives were warmly received by His Beatitude, who went on to talk to them on the beginning and continuation of Orthodox monasticism in the Holy Land, as well as its contribution to Church life and civilization. Patriarch Theophilos has responded positively to the Institute’s invitation to open the Conference’s deliberations, on the following day. Further details will be posted on the Website in due time.

From the Secretariat-General


On Monday the 7th/20th of October 2014, His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, blessed the monastic habit of Arab-speaking Mr John Atras and Russian-speaking Mr Sergei Denisenkov, both of Nazareth, in the presence of the Most Reverend Kyriakos, Metropolitan of Nazareth, in accordance with an earlier decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod. The blessing was performed in anticipation of their ordination as deacons, intended to serve our Greek Orthodox, Arab-speaking and Russian-speaking flock in Nazareth.

From the Secretariat-General


On Friday, the 4th/ 17th of October 2014, the Palestinian Bible Society hosted an event at the “Convention Center” of the Palestinian Autonomy, between Bethlehem and Hebron.

His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, attended the event, accompanied by the Elder Secretary-General, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Archdeacon Evlogios, priests from the occupied areas, i.e. the Hagiotaphite Protosyncellus Leontios, vicar in Rafidia; f. Emmanuel, vicar in Aboud Community; f. Boulos, vicar in Beit-Jalla; and f. Issa Mousleh, the Arab-speaking Mass Media Liaison – as well as faithful from the Patriarchate’s Orthodox flock.

Also in attendance were the heads of other Christian Churches in Jerusalem, i.e. the former Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah; the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Right Reverend Suheil Dawani, H.E. William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem – as well as Palestinian Autonomy officials, i.e. Tourism Minister, Mrs Roula Ma’ayah.

The programme included the National Palestinian Anthem, “Our Father” read out along with excerpts from the New Testament, and an address by the Director of the Bible Society, Mr Filmon Nashiat. Mr Nashiat pointed out that the purpose of the gathering was the dissemination of the Word of God.

The event celebrated the publication of the New Testament in Arabic, edited by Metropolitan Constantinos of Bagdad. The Arabic translation is available in 15.000 copies, paid for by the Bible Society.

His Beatitude Theophilos addressed the event in Arabic, see link: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2014/10/17/7778

In His address, Patriarch Theophilos thanked Mr James Catford, Group Chief Executive of the Bible Society in the UK, and Mr Filmon Nashiat, Director at the Palestine Office, for covering the expenses of the publication. Thanks were also extended to Mr George Bassous for hosting the event in the Convention Center, which was founded by the late Said Houri. Mr George Bassous also delivered a speech in honour of the late George Said.

Messrs. Issah Mousleh and James Catford also spoke at the event. Mr Catford pointed out that in trying times, it is worth knowing who are friends are, just as the Bible Society is a friend of Christians in Palestine.

His Beatitude went on to offer Mr George Bassous an icon of Christ in memory of the late George Said. Copies of the New Testament in Arabic translation were offered to all participants.

From the Secretariat-General


On Monday, the 30th of September/13th of October 2014, “Nea Dimokratia” MP, the Rt. Hon. Mrs Maria Antoniou, visited the Patriarchate accompanied by Archimandrite Galaktion, in the presence of the Greek Consul-General to Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis.

Mrs Antoniou was courteously received by H.B., Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, the Patriarchal Commissioner, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, and the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda.

An interesting discussion took place during the meeting, on the centuries-long presence of Greek Orthodox Christians in the regions falling within the Patriarchate’s jurisdiction, their current situation in the Middle East, the Patriarchate’s peacemaking role and its harmonious collaboration with the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy. His Beatitude also referred to the archeological and architectural interest pertaining to the Church of the Resurrection, the Holy Sepulcher and all holy shrines within Jerusalem.

After the discussion, His Beatitude offered Mrs Antoniou the “History of the Church of Jerusalem” edition by Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, a pectoral mother-of-pearl cross, and an icon of Theotokos and the Holy Sepulcher.

From the Secretariat-General




On Sunday, the 29th of September/12th of October 2014, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, celebrating his name-day in memory of Hosios Kyriakos the Anachorite, also celebrated the golden jubilee of his prelacy, namely fifty years of fruitful and dedicated service to the Mother of Churches and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

To mark the occasion, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Nazareth performed the divine Liturgy at the Church of the Annunciation in the Nazareth pilgrimage site. The service was followed by a reception in the Bishopric of Nazareth, which was attended by priests and members of the Bishopric and of other cities’ parishes, Mr Cesar Margiye, Director of Israel’s Christian Affairs Department, and others.

His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, honoured the reception with His presence, praising Metropolitan Kyriakos for his obedient hieratic and prelatic services, during an address in Arabic, see link: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2014/10/12/7796

From the Secretariat-General




On Saturday, the 28th of September/11th of October 2014, after Archbishop Demetrios of Lydda led the morning Divine Liturgy on the Horrendous Golgotha, a memorial service was held for the late Principal, f. Photios Kiousis, forty days after his passing. The service was led by His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. Hagiotaphite Prelates and Hieromonks co-officiated at the service, as the Head Cantor of the Church of the Resurrection, Archimandrite f. Aristovoulos, sang with students at the Patriarchal School. Also in attendance were monks, nuns and faithful from Jerusalem as well as pilgrims from Greece, Russia, Cyprus and Romania.

The late monk Photios belonged to the lavra of Hosios Savvas the Consecrated, where he was tonsured monk by the late f. Seraphim. He was commissioned by the Patriarchate to teach Physics at the Patriarchal School of Jerusalem, before taking on the position of Principal in 2005. In the course of his service, he was very diligent both as an educator and a monk.

Patiently he endured his painful illness, before commanding his soul to the Lord on the 23rd of July/5th of August 2014. Father Photios is buried at the Monastery of his repentance.

On the conclusion of the Memorial Service and the distribution of kollyva at the Patriarchate, His Beatitude encouraged all those observing the memory of monk Photios, to emulate his example in being thorough with his monastic duties and honouring the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

From the Secretariat-General


On Thursday, the 26th of September/9th of October 2014, a group of pilgrims consisting of approximately 50 young men and women, from the flock of the Mafraq Community in Northern Jordan, visited the Patriarchate. They were accompanied by the Patriarchal Commissioner, His Eminence Philoumenos, Archbishop of Pella.

The pilgrims were courteously received by H.B., Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, in the presence of Hagiotaphite Fathers. During the meeting, the Patriarch listened to issues of concern to them, as well as to the Christian activities they pursue in their parish, that of the Dormition of Theotokos, led by f. Demetrios. This particular Christian youth group has founded an excellent church choir performing Byzantine music under the direction of Mr Rami Samawi.

On this occasion, the young men and women sang church hymns in Arabic, i.e. the kontakion for the Exaltation of the Cross, the Dormition of Theotokos, and of Resurrection Day, as well as His Beatitude’s Polychronism.

Patriarch Theophilos offered the youth Jerusalemite blessings, after which they left to venerate at the Holy Sepulcher and other shrines in the Old City of Jerusalem.

From the Secretariat-General