On the evening of Monday the 31st of December, the last day of the year 2013/13th of January 2014, the custom of cutting St Basil-pie was observed at the Hall of the Patriarchate.

His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, led the ceremony that had as participants the Greek Consul-General to Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis and his associates, Hagiotaphite Fathers, Greeks hailing from the Greek Parish in Jerusalem, members of our Arab-speaking congregation in Jerusalem, and pilgrims.

To this distinguished guests, His Beatitude delivered an address on the dawn of the new year 2014. This is an excerpt from His address:

[…] The festive reception of the new year, which coincides with the Despotiki (of the Lord) Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is calling upon us to consider our works and deeds of the past year, and exclaim alongside the wise Paul: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3, 13-14).

It is precisely this principle, namely the movement towards a blessed life, living and behaving according to Christ, that we are called upon to set as our purpose at the beginning of the new year of Christ’s Virtue, where the domain of His eternal Kingdom will hopefully be blessed and glorified; Amen.

In Arabic, the address may be reached here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2014/01/13/3155

The ceremony was followed by the Apolytikion of the Circumcision of Christ and the Apolytikion of St Basil, at the end of which His Beatitude proceeded to cut St Basil-pie, wishing that the New Year 2014 be favourable and peaceful. The pie was distributed among the guests, who paid their respects and reciprocated wishes for a happy new year.

During the distribution of the pie, students at the Patriarchal School chanted the New Year’s Carols. They went on to sing the Carols to Hagiotaphite Fathers and the Greek Parish, and save the contributions they were generously offered by their hosts.

From the Secretariat-General



On Monday the 31st of December, the last day of the church year 2013/13th January 2014, the feast of Hosia Melanie of Rome was celebrated by the Patriarchate at the chapel dedicated to her, within the Holy Monastery of the Great Panaghia.

Hailing from Rome, Hosia Melanie had traveled to monasteries of Egypt before taking up residence in Jerusalem, where she lived in sainthood, founding charitable houses and helping the poor.

The Hegoumen of the Village of the Shepherds, also serving as vicar at the Monastery, Archimandrite Ignatios, led the Vespers and the Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast, in the presence of nuns of the Monastery of the Great Panaghia and nuns from other Monasteries in Jerusalem, as well as pilgrims.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Abbess, nun Melanie, hosted a reception at the Abbess’ Quarters.

From the Secretariat-General


On the day after Christmas, Wednesday the 26th of December 2013/8th of January 2014, the feast of the Synaxis of Theotokos was celebrated by the Patriarchate.

At the Patriarchate

In the early hours of the day, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, led the festive Matins Service of Christmas and the Divine Liturgy, with co-officiating Hagiotaphite Primates, Hieromonks and monks. All gathered to honour Theotokos as the first and foremost among humans to serve the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which God prepared our salvation.

The Divine Liturgy in the Monastic Church of Sts Constantine and Helena was followed by the kissing of the hand of His Beatitude and embraces among brothers.

In the Village of the Shepherds

In this town, where Shepherds residing in the fields were urged by heavenly angels to go to Bethlehem and see the infant Christ lying in the manger, there is a Church dedicated to the Synaxis of Theotokos, built by the departed Hegoumen of St Savvas Monastery, Archimandrite Seraphim.

In this Church, His Eminence Theophanes, Archbishop of Gerassa, led the Vespers in the presence of a great crowd of Orthodox faithful. Co-officiating were the Hegoumen of the Monastery of the Shepherds, Archimandrite f. Ignatios, Sabbaite Hieromonk Efrosynos, and Arab-speaking priests from the town of the Shepherds-Beit Sahour, while a great crowd of faithful piously attended the service.

To the faithful, Presbyter f. Issah Musleh was assigned by His Eminence to preach the Divine Word on God’s philanthropy, expressed through the incarnation of His Son through a Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, honoured for Her contribution to the human gender with a gathering of the faithful on the 26th of December.

The Divine Liturgy was followed by a memorial supplication for the repose of Archimandrite Seraphim, proprietor of the Church of the Synaxis of Theotokos, who slept in peace eleven years ago. A procession then took place towards the Cavern of the Shepherds, where stands the ancient chapel commemorating them.

After the procession, Hegoumen Ignatios hosted the Prelatic retinue and the entire congregation to a reception, followed by lunch at the hotel of Mr Evangelos Sideras.

From the Secretariat-General



The feast of Christmas, the ‘Metropolis of all feasts’ according to the Church Fathers, was celebrated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Tuesday the 25th of December/7th of January 2014, in the city where our Lord Jesus Christ was born by flesh, namely Bethlehem, where lies the magnificent Constantinian Basilica.

The feast began from Monday night, at 22:30 pm, as entrance was made from the gate of the Baptistery and the Matins procession was led by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, His Eminence Demetrios, Archbishop of Lydda.

During Matins, His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proceeded to the Holy Bema, while priests approached Him to put on their prelatic vestments, followed by deacons dressing His Beatitude and Primates.

This marked the beginning of the procession from the Sanctuary Door towards the divine Cavern, along which His Beatitude was accompanied by the President of the Palestinian Autonomy Mr Mahmud Abbas Abu Mazen, the representative of the King of Jordan, Commerce Minister Mr Samir Halasa, the Greek Consul-General to Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis, the Mayor of Bethlehem Mme Vera Baboun, Governor Mr Abdul Fatah Hamayel, the Chief of Police of the region of Bethlehem and other officials of the Palestinian state. Leading the procession were priests and Primates in festive vestments.

Upon entrance to the Cavern, the pericope of the birth of Jesus was read from the Gospel of Luke: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…” (Luke 2,1) in both Greek and Arabic, followed by a reading of His Beatitude’s Message on the Feast of Christmas, by His Eminence Demetrios, Archbishop of Lydda in Greek and by presbyter Issa Musleh in Arabic.

The Message was followed by veneration at the Star and the Manger, as well as by a procession around the interior of the Basilica thrice, amidst Christmas Hymns under the direction of the Head Cantor of the Church of the Resurrection, Archimandrite Aristovoulos in Greek and the Director of the Choir of the Basilica of the Nativity Mr Laurence Samur, in Arabic. The two choirs went on to chant for the whole duration of Matins and the Divine Liturgy.

The procession was concluded in the middle of the Basilica, followed by the procession of Matins, and the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom in the main Nave of the Basilica, led by His Beatitude Theophilos. Co-officiating were the Most Reverend Isychios, Metropolitan of Kapitolias, and their Eminences the Archbishops, Dorotheos of Avila, Aristarchos of Constantina, Elder Secretary-General, Methodios of Tabor, Theodosios of Sevasteia and Demetrios of Lydda, with Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and Arab-speaking presbyters, fathers Georgios Bandak, Georgios Martzuka, Spyridon Samour and Issa Thalgiye, visiting priests from Greece, Russia and other Orthodox countries, in the presence of a great crowd of Arab-speaking, Greek-speaking, Russian-Speaking and Romanian-speaking congregation, piously receiving the Holy Communion.

His Eminence Nektarios, Archbishop of Anthedon, led the Divine Liturgy in the Cavern.

At the conclusion of this brilliant celebration, the Patriarchal retinue proceeded to the Hegoumen’s Quarters where they were hosted to lunch by Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan.

After lunch, His Beatitude and Hagiotaphite Fathers returned to Jerusalem through the Checkpoint at Rachel’s Tomb, after first descending through the South gate to the Divine Cavern for veneration.

From the Secretariat-General



On Monday the 24th of December 2013/6th of January 2014, Christmas Eve was celebrated by the Patriarchate in Bethlehem in accordance with its ancient order.

In line with the approved schedule, at 9:00 am of the aforementioned day, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, received the Israeli Police at the Patriarchate’s Hall on the occasion of the feast.

Subsequently, accompanied by the Police and headed by the Greek Orthodox Boy Scouts, the Patriarchal Hagiotaphite Retinue proceeded to the Gate of David. From there, His Beatitude and Hagiotaphite Fathers were driven to the Holy Monastery of the Prophet Elias.

At the Monastery, the Patriarchal Retinue was welcomed by the Hegoumen, Archimandrite Paisios, representatives of the Communities of Bethlehem, Beit-Jala, and Shepherds Village, as well as the Israeli Military Administration of Bethlehem. After a brief reception, His Beatitude left by car for Bethlehem, headed by a cavalcade of three Israelis until the Checkpoint at Rachel’s Tomb. From Rachel’s Tomb, an honorary motorcycle  parade of Palestinian Policemen led the Patriarchal car to the square of the city of Bethlehem, where His Beatitude was addressed by the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan, the Mayor of Bethlehem, Mme Vera Baboun, the Governor,  Abdul Fatah Hamayel, Minister Ziad Al-Bandak, the Palestinian Committee on Christian Affairs and a great crowd of Pilgrims and Christian residents of Bethlehem, headed by several Boy Scout Branches.

From there, His Beatitude walked to the entrance of the Basilica in Bethlehem, following Priests in festive vestments chanting “Your birth, O Christ our God, dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth…”

His Beatitude, led by the hieratical retinue, walked to the iconostasis of the Basilica, then descended to the Cavern through the southern gate to venerate the Star and the Manger, before ascending through the northern gate and proceeding in front of the iconostasis. There, he rose to the throne and led the Procession of the Great Hours, Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of Basil the Great until 3:30 pm.

At the conclusion of Vespers, the Patriarchal Retinue was hosted to lunch at the Hegoumen’s quarters, by Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan.

On the evening of the Eve, His Beatitude hosted a reception for the President of the Palestinian State, His Excellency Mahmud Abbas – Abu Mazen, the President of Sri-Lanka and his wife, on a visit to the Palestinian state, the representative of the King of Jordan, Mr Samir Halasa, eminent personalities of the Palestinian Government, i.e. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and members of our Orthodox congregation.

The reception marked the conclusion of the feast of Christmas Eve.

From the Secretariat-General




On the Sunday which preceded the Nativity of Christ, the 23rd of December/5th of January 2014, a Memorial for Hagiotaphite Fathers was performed in the All-holy Church of the Resurrection.

Leading the divine Liturgy prior to the Memorial, was His Eminence Theodosios, Archbishop of Sevasteia.

Officiating after the divine Liturgy, was His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem with co-officiating Hagiotaphite Primates, Hieromonks and deacons.

Commemorated during the Memorial were the long-deceased Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Primates, Hieromonks, Deacons, Monks and Nuns.

At the conclusion of the memorial, His Beatitude ascended in procession to the Patriarchates where after the distribution of the kollyva [consecrated wheat], He wished for the blessed memory and eternal repose of all long-departed Fathers.

From the Secretariat-General



On Sunday the 16th/29th of December 2013, the Feast of the Holy Forefathers was observed in commemoration of the Forefathers, according to the flesh, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived before the Law and under the Law, namely Abraham the Patriarch, his son Isaac, David the righteous king, and the prophet Daniel and his three children who transformed the fire into dew. The feast was observed at the church dedicated to them, in the Village of the Shepherds – Beit Sahour.

In this Village, named after the Shepherds who, urged by angels, proceeded to see the infant Jesus lying in the manger, the Patriarchate preserves a very ancient Greek Orthodox (Rum Orthodox) Community, numbering today approximately seven thousand members.

His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, was warmly received by the priests of this Community, Boy Scouts, Commissioners, and the people, before leading the Matins procession and the divine Liturgy. Co-officiating were the Most Reverend Isychios, Metropolitan of Kapitolias, His Eminence Dorotheos, Archbishop of Avila, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and deacons. The Community Choir chanted while a great crowd of Orthodox people participated in piety.

To the pious congregation, His Beatitude Theophilos preached the Word of God. This is an excerpt from His speech:

[…] The unspeakable and indeed great and paradoxical mystery of the incarnation of the Divine Logos, namely our reformation and that of our Forefathers, is proclaimed today by the present festive gathering in this holy site, where the Shepherds living in the fields nearby were terrified when they listened to this angelic hymn: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2, 14). “And it came to pass” says the Evangelist Luke, “as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Luke 2, 15).

This very fact, my dear brothers, which the Lord made known to us is none other than the Nativity of Christ, our God and Saviour, from the pure blood of the All-Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. This same fact is a folly and a scandal to the whole world “lying in wickedness” (I John 5, 19), whereas for the world of the Church, it is a great and paradoxical mystery. And this because, according to the Evangelist John, “we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life” (1 John 5, 20).

[…] Today, the festive commemoration of the Holy Forefathers and Prophets, is intended for this sacred purpose, namely the preparation and arrangement of the cavern within us, in other words the spiritual cavern of our heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5, 8) says the Lord. “Put to death, therefore” preaches the wise Paul, “whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry; rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3, 5-10).

The entire speech may be read in Greek here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/gr/2013/12/29/10276

And in Arabic here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/12/29/2996

At the end of the divine Liturgy, a reception was held at the Events Hall, followed by lunch at the town’s hotel, hosted by the Community.

From the Secretariat-General



On the night of Friday to Saturday, the 13th to 14th/26th to 27th of December 2013, the recently tonsured monk Polycarpos was ordained deacon by the Elder Sacristan of the Holy Sepulcher, Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis. The ordination took place during a nocturnal divine liturgy in the Holy Sepulcher, in accordance to a decision by the Holy and Sacred Synod.

Prior to the ordination rite, His Eminence the Archbishop of Hierapolis addressed a speech to the ordained, saying among other things:

[…] “From a young age you have dedicated yourself to the service of your neighbour. Initially you devoted yourself to the service of your country, with zeal and self-sacrifice, emulating our heroic ancestors who fought and sacrificed themselves for the Holy faith of Christ and the freedom of our Homeland”.

“You were given the special honour of guarding the homeland from the sky. Your systematic study, thorough performance of your duties and impeccable ethos, promoted you to being responsible not only for governing an aircraft, but also for the rest of the crew and soldiers on board”.

“Yet, whilst flying through the blue sky, you yearned for the heavenly shrines, the kingdom of heaven, because the glory of the celestial bodies is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (I Corinthians 15, 40) And once you discovered the “fine pearl”, namely our Lord Jesus Christ, “you went away and sold everything you had and bought it” (Matthew 13, 46). And you realized that everything that’s earthly is vain and brings confusion and grievance to man”.

“The Church is the only joy and elation, which akin to an arc, guides the faithful towards the ports of salvation. And you chose to abandon your successful secular path and devote yourself to the Holy Lands, knowing their special blessing from the Psalm: For the Lord hath chosen Sion: he hath chosen it for his dwelling” (Psalm 131, 13).

[…] “Finally, your are called upon to emulate our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who willingly denied the earthly and secular power that the devil offered Him on the mount of temptations, ascended the Horrendous Golgotha and was crucified, becoming an exemplum of forbearance and tolerance towards His crucifiers. You too will “deny yourself and raise your cross and follow it”, carrying a positive hope, that after the Cross follows the Resurrection”. […]

Listening to His Eminence’s paternal advice, f. Polycarpos approached in piety and placed his head and hands on the stone rolled away by the angel during the Lord’s Resurrection and, praying, received the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, ordained to the first rank of priesthood, whilst the crowd cheered “Worthy he is…”

The procession was transmitted live on the Patriarchate’s Online Radio Station, see link:  www.radio.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/en

At the conclusion of the divine Liturgy, the ordained hierodeacon, f. Polycarpos, hosted those honouring his ordination with their presence to a reception in the Office of the Elder Sacristan, Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis.

From the Secretariat-General



On Wednesday the 12th/25th of December 2013, the feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Trimythous, was celebrated by the Patriarchate in the Monastery which bears his name and lies on the inside of the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Gate of Damascus.

His Eminence Dorotheos, Archbishop of Avila, led the Vespers and the divine Liturgy. Co-officiating were Hagiotaphite hieromonks and Arab-speaking (Rum Orthodox) presbyters and Hagiotaphite hierodeacons. The Patriarchal School choir chanted in the Byzantine style under the direction of Mr Evangelos Tsarkatzoglou, in the presence of a great crowd, praying piously in quest of the Saint’s mediation. According to his Apolytikion, the saint was proven an advocate of the First Ecumenical Council dogma of the homoousion [of one substance] of the Son with the Father, feeder of the poor and a worker by divine Grace of many miracles, i.e. the cessation of drought, the transformation of the snake into gold and of gold into snake, the compellation of the dead woman in the tomb and co-officiating with angels.

During the d. Liturgy, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, proceeded to venerate in the company of Hagiotaphite fathers.

After the divine Liturgy, the Hegoumen, Archimandrite f. Sergios, hosted a reception for the Prelatic retinue and all those present, at his quarters.

From the Secretariat-General


On the night of Saturday to Sunday, the 8th to 9th/21st to 22nd of December 2013, in accordance to a decision by the Holy and Sacred Synod, the ordination of Archdeacon f. Athanasios to the rank of Presbyter was performed by the Most Reverend Isychios, Metropolitan of Kapitolias.

Before the ordination, the ordaining Metropolitan delivered a speech to the ordained on the utmost importance of the sacrament of priesthood, the honour bestowed upon him and the responsibility he undertakes.

“In the course of your service as Deacon, Archdeacon, Assistant Dragoman and Spokesman at His Beatitude office in the long spoken of Patriarchate of Jerusalem”, said the Metropolitan, “you have demonstrated excellent obedience, exemplary keenness in the execution of your duties, and respect to Hagiotaphite Brothers, irrespective of their rank”.

“For this reason”, the Metropolitan continued, “and having fulfilled long years within a short period of time, you are today worthy – with the Grace of the Holy Sepulcher – of your introduction to the second grade of priesthood”.

In his reply to the ordaining Metropolitan, f. Athanasios confessed “with fear” of “seeing distinctly” his insufficiency and weakness. “I also confess however”, said he, “my trust to God’s unmeasured mercy and my obedience to the Mother of Churches, the Church of Sion”.

F. Athanasios went on to express his “filial thankfulness and immense gratitude” to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, for “fervently embracing” him during his five-year diaconate in the rank of His Archdeacon. Thanks were also extended to Metropolitan Isychios, f. Athanasios’ parents, Michael and Theophano, his spiritual father, the Very Reverend Archimandrite f. Chrysostomos, as well as the Most Reverend Christodoulos, Metropolitan of Elftheroupolis.

Co-officiating the sacrament of ordination were Archimandrite Chrysostomos, hegoumen at the Monastery of Abba Gerasimus of the Jordan; the former Protosyncellus of the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus, Archimandrite f. Ieronymos, and other Fathers. The ordination took place in the presence of Mrs Aspasia Mitsi, representative of the Greek Consul-General to Jerusalem, the parents and other relatives of the ordained, and several Hagiotaphite and pious pilgrims, exclaiming “Worthy he is”.

The service was transmitted live on the Patriarchate’s Online Radio Station, see link:  www.radio.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/en

At the conclusion of the divine Liturgy, the ordained, f. Athanasios, hosted everyone to a reception at the Office of the Elder Sacristan, His Eminene Isidoros, Archbishop of Hierapolis, and received the wishes of all for a devoted and consecrated diaconate.

From the Secretariat-General