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LITURGY OF THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM IN IB’LIN AND INSTALLATION OF NEW PRIEST

On Saturday the 27th of October/9th of November 2013, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, performed the divine Liturgy in the city of Ib’lin (Abelin), in Northern Israel, where the Patriarchate preserves a Rum Orthodox Community, numbering approximately five thousand members. The Community falls under the jurisdiction of the Holy Metropolis of Ptolemais, present-day Accra.

The liturgy was intended for the spiritual communication and collaboration between his Beatitude and His spiritual children; also, for the installation of recently ordained priest, f. Savvas Haj. Father Savvas will serve as assistant parish priest to the elder f. Spyridon, who has been serving the Community of the city of Ib’lin for several years now.

Co-officiating were the Prelates of the Patriarchate, the Most Reverend Kyriakos, Metropolitan of Nazareth, and His Eminence Theodosios, Archbishop of Sevasteia.

During the koinonikon, His Beatitude addressed the installed priest, f. Savvas, and the pious congregation. This is an excerpt from his address:

[…] To increase and establish our holy zeal, we have proceeded, upon a Synodic decision, to the appointment of two parish priests, who are to co-officiate with the venerable and grey-haired priest and Steward, Spyridon Aouad. These new labourers in our Lord’s vineyard are your fellow parishioners, the recently ordained f. Savvas, and Steward f. Demetrios, for the time being a minister in the Community of Haifa.

Let us, my dears, summon our Father, the God of lights, so that his Only Son and Word, He who is the true light, may illuminate their faces and guide their steps towards the achievement of His commandments, by means of the mediation of the Mother of God, the Ever Virgin Mary, and the supplications of the Holy Great-Martyrs, St Demetrius and George. Amen.

At the conclusion of the divine Liturgy, during a reception held in a hall next to the church, the installed priest, f. Savvas, addressed His Beatitude. In his address, f. Savvas extended his thanks for the privilege to serve as priest in his hometown of Ib’lin. In His reply, His Beatitude wished f. Savvas a fruitful diaconate ministry, endowed with hieratic consciousness, diligence and dedication.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/JhUG5ybI4ro




FEAST OF ST JAMES, BROTHER OF THE LORD, AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Tuesday, 23rd of October/5th of November 2013, the memory of the glorious apostle and hieromartyr James, the Brother of the Lord, was celebrated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the ancient church dedicated to him. The church stands between the Central Monastery of the Hagiotaphites and the All-holy Church of the Resurrection, beneath its belfry. It constitutes the Cathedral of the Rum Orthodox Arab-speaking Community of Jerusalem.

In the afternoon, at 2:30 pm, Vespers was held, led by His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem. The procession of Vespers was attended by Hagiotaphite Fathers, nuns, Arab-speaking locals, parishioners and pious Greek-speaking and Russian-speaking pilgrims. After the procession, amidst the sound of bells ringing, the Patriarchal Retinue progressed to the Patriarchates.

On the day of the feast, at 8:00 am, His Beatitude Theophilos arrived at the Church of St James, began chanting the Katabasias, and led the Matins and Divine Liturgy. Co-officiating were Hagiotaphite Prelates: their Eminences the Archbishops of Avila, Tabor and Sevasteia, Dorotheos, Methodios and Theodosios respectively; Hagiotaphite Hieromonks and the presbyters of the Church of St James, Steward f. Issa Touma and priest Farah-Charalambous Bantour, and hierodeacons. The Greek Consul-General in Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis attended the service in the company of his associates and a crowd of Orthodox faithful, Jerusalemite parishioners and pious pilgrims.

To this Christian crowd, His Beatitude preached the Word of God in Greek. This is an excerpt of His speech in English:

Today the Church of Christ and indeed the Church of Jerusalem delights and rejoices because St James was proclaimed an Apostle and the first Bishop in Jerusalem by the Lord himself and was the first to write and set forth the Divine Liturgy, taught by none other than Christ.

In other words, my dear brothers, St James became an eye and ear witness to the mystery of divine economy in Christ and of Christ’s teachings, as demonstrated by his catholic epistle, where he names himself James of God, the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. And truly, he is recognized as a servant of Christ. This, because he faithfully emulated Christ in words and deeds, as attested in the preaching on faith included in his epistle, namely: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead”. (James 2, 14-17 & 26)

In Arabic, the speech may be accessed here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/11/05/2810

At the end of the d. Liturgy, the Patriarchal Retinue progressed to the Patriarchates, followed by Hagiotaphite Prelates from the rooftop of St James, as is the custom. Blessed bread was distributed by the supervisors of the Patriarchate’s bakery, Hieromonk f. Paisios and the reverend nun Serapheima, at the exit from the Central Monastery on the way to the Patriarchate.

During the reception at the Patriarchate, His Beatitude addressed in Greek the Hagiotaphite Fathers, the Consul-General and laymen. An excerpt from the address is cited here in English:

“It is precisely the wisdom of God, namely the Holy Spirit, which makes us not strangers to God but his fellow citizens, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”. (Ephesians 2, 19-20).  

The safe-keeping of the construction of the Church, assembled in Christ, is guaranteed by the apostolic succession through which the Church is prolonged in Christ and through Christ along the centuries. As proprietors of this treasure in the face of the holy, glorious and most honourable Apostle James, we have properly and assuredly performed the divine liturgy in the church consecrated to St James, where we made a supplication for a righteous and peaceful condition of the entire world, especially our region, for the spiritual well-being and progress of our holy Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and of our pious Christian race.

In Arabic, the address may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/11/05/2808

The address was followed by brotherly embrace and kissing the hand of His Beatitude.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/tNc0mRoh9ok

 




REMARKS AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND ON THE STATUS AND NATURE OF HOLY SITES.

Jerusalem, 30 October 2013.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

First, please allow us to thank our dear friend, Mrs. Sharon Rosen, for her kind invitation to address this conference. The subject of Holy Sites is, needless to say, of supreme importance to all the religious communities of the Holy Land, and it is crucial for us to gather together to discuss both the nature of Holy Sites and their meaning for us all today. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Rabbi David Rosen for moderating this part of our conference, as well as his instrumental work in the Universal Code on Holy Sites.

The Nature of Holy Sites

According to the Psalms, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness. The world and those who dwell therein (Psalms 23:1).”

In the Christian tradition, holiness is the supreme attribute of God. Human beings share in God’s holiness insofar as we share in the divine life. “For it is written, be holy for I am holy.” We call those people “holy” who reflect the divine life, and we call places “holy” where that divine life breaks through into our temporal reality. The goal of true Christian living is precisely this: that by sharing in God’s life in the church we shall attain full union with God for eternity. Therefore holiness cannot be created by us; but we can nurture holiness where it is found, both in places and in people, and we can participate in this dynamic life.

For the Christian, too, a proper understanding of Holy Places flows naturally from our biblical theology of creation and the mystery of the divine economy of the Incarnation. We believe that God created all things from nothingess, and that all creation will be redeemed and restored by God to its original purpose. Therefore even geography has the potential to mediate the divine life. The Christian monastic tradition is especially sensitive to this, and monasteries have often been built in situations of particular beauty or starkness, as being the most propitious to the ascetic endeavor.

Our theology of the Divine Logos tells the Christian that because we believe that God became a human being in a particular time and place, and because we know from our experience that we may know the presence of God in this life, we have a keen appreciation for the holiness of places. In his own earthly life, our Lord Jesus Christ inhabited specific places, spilling his sacrificial blood, and so made not only human history but geography sanctified. These are precisely the places where, over centuries, the faithful have come to venerate and become an eye-witness to a person in our sacred history – that is, the Christian history of salvation. Holy Sites, therefore, are “the intersection of the timeless moment” where earth and heaven meet, and we are enabled to see a glimpse of eternity.

Holy Sites do not depend on our presence for their true nature to be evident. In other words, particular sites are holy whether there is a solitary pilgrim lost in silent prayer, or whether there are thousands gathered for a great religious feast. We in the Holy Land who are accustomed to great crowds of worshippers and pilgrims also know what it is like to be alone in the quietude of a Holy Place and experience the “gentle breeze” (aura) that is the voice of God.

These remarks naturally bring us to a difficult subject, which is the tendency of Holy Sites to be turned from pilgrimage destinations to mere tourist attractions and archeological sites. We who have been entrusted with the guardianship and service of the Holy Sites are indeed sensitive to this delicate issue. Of course we acknowledge that even some who call themselves faithful Christians visit Holy Sites more as observers than as worshippers, still, we are aware of the fact that Holy Sites are to be conducive to their primary purpose to be “intersections of the timeless moment.” To allow Holy Sites to become simply tourist attractions is to gravely undermine their true nature. In this regard, one of the great benefits of the “Universal Code on Holy Sites” is to support religious communities in safeguarding and sustaining Holy Sites around the world from this exact sort of misdirection.

“Holy Gifts for the Holy” and Others

Holy Sites are gifts both for the faithful who claim the site as well as for the entire human family beyond the bounds of a specific religious community or group for whom the site is sacred. We know this in the Holy Land, for pilgrims come to us from all over the world. For example, we welcome many pilgrims to sites that are distinctly Christian, but however, are equally sacred to other religious traditions of the Holy Land and beyond. All of us, we must admit, whether Jew, Christian, or Muslim, have observed that pilgrims from other traditions often treat our Holy Sites with more reverence than our own faithful do!

No doubt, Holy Sites testify to the power of the faith and hope of those who kneel there to worship, “as the deer pants for the water brooks” (Psalms 42). In fact, Holy Places possess layers of sanctity for those whose religious tradition and attachment is fully identified; sanctity that may escape even the most pious person from another tradition. “For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Cor. 2:11). For instance, the Church of the Anastasis (known as the Holy Sepulcher), which encompasses the crucifixion place and tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, will have spiritual implications that are as much emotional and inexpressible for Christans as they may be explainable to others who are not necessarily Christian. Just as the Western Wall (known as the Kotel) will have spiritual implications for Jews, and the Haram as-Sherif (known as Al-Aqsa) will have spiritual implications for Muslims. There are levels of religious experience that we can only know in the heart, and for which words are inadequate.

And yet, it seems to us that here is a point of convergence for the faithful of various religious traditions. That is to say, as Christians, we may not be able to perceive what the Kotel means for the Jewish soul, as we also cannot perceive what Haram as-Sherif means for the Muslim heart. But we as Christians know what it is to feel divine intimacy at a Holy Site, just as Jews and Muslims also feel at Holy Sites. This experience can be for us one of deep unity, since we share a common humanity and a common destiny. Needless to say, it is in this respect that through the sanctity of the Holy Sites we find grounds for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding.

One should not underestimate the undeniable power of holy places to be points of cohesion for religious identities and unique facilitators of unity, not just of the religious kind, but the kind that transcends national and human barriers. It is so often faith that unites people under their national identity and fosters solidarity between nations. One should bear in mind that this is a mighty stronghold against which globalization has not yet managed to influence.

Furthermore, it should be underscored that the unwillingness or failure to take into serious consideration the inherent sensitivities and concerns of various religious communities, both individual and collective, especially in our region and in particular the Holy Land, can turn the Holy Places into a metaphorical volcano that is imminently ready to explode with unpredictable consequences for both the religious and political realms.

We cannot conclude these brief remarks without the observation that we have not only Holy Sites in our region that are specific to our respective religions; we have Holy Sites that we share in common. It is one thing to have claims of exclusivity over one’s own tradition’s Holy Sites. It is quite another thing to have discreet access to the sanctity of those places.

It is here where we are presented with both a challenge and wisdom. Our human predicament is the desire to possess and to exclude, while the divine impulse is to give and include with discretion. The Sites that we hold in common are a challenge to the boundaries that have been fixed around our religious and cultural traditions. It should be said that we are not the possessors of sanctity which emanates from holy places; it is sanctity that possesses us. It is our commitment to the sanctity of the Holy Places that holds us in a divine encounter.

Thank you.

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




DOXOLOGY IN THE CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION ON THE OCCASION OF 28TH OCTOBER 1940

On Monday, the 15th/28th October 2013, at 10:30 am, Doxology was held in the All-Holy Church of the Resurrection on the occasion of the national holiday commemorating the 28th of October 1940.

Doxology was held as prayer of gratitude to God for empowering and reinforcing our nation to liberate itself from the occupying forces of World War II, and as supplication for forgiveness of the sins and repose of the souls of those who fought for their faith and homeland and those who fell heroically for the national cause and achieved the great feat of national liberation.

Doxology was led by His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Co-officiating were Hagiotaphite Prelates and Hieromonks, in the presence of the Greek Consul-General in Jerusalem, Mr Georgios Zacharoudiakis, members of the Greek parish in Jerusalem and visiting pilgrims from Greece.

After doxology, attendants proceeded, amid ringing bells, to the Patriarchates where the Greek Consul-General made a speech pertaining to the national holiday (see video). His Beatitude addressed those present in Greek, while f. Issa Musleh translated into Arabic. An excerpt from the address is cited here:

“The present-day commemoration of the epos of 1940 is invested with particular significance in our contemporary and technologically advanced era. This we say as new forms of Nazism and Fascism threaten humanity, especially so those nations that are infused with the principles of the Gospel, love of Christ and the healing spirit of His Church, namely our Eastern Orthodox Church”.

The procession was transmitted live on the Patriarchate’s Radio Station, see: en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2012/12/26/2443

 

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/qdfbNhs3rhw




H.B. ADDRESS ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT & COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSONS OF THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ON ORTHODOXY.

Bethlehem,  20 October 2013.

 

Your Excellencies,

Honorable President of the General Assembly Mr. Sergei Popov,

Honorable Secretary General Mr. Anastasios Nerantzis,

Your Eminences,

Distinguished members of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

“Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant as for brothers to dwell together in unity?” (Psalm 132:1).

 

First of all, we would like to express our deep appreciation for having been included in your important meeting here in the Holy Land, especially in the holy city of Bethlehem – the city of peace and reconciliation; for it was here where heaven and earth met and reconciled.

Our meeting at this hospitable table is an extension of our gathering yesterday evening in Jerusalem at the Patriarchate, where we had the opportunity to discuss the very purpose and mission of your organization and to highlight the mission of the Jerusalem Patriarchate in the world, and especially in the context of the current political developments in the Middle East, namely the unpredictable crisis in Syria, Egypt, and the unresolved Israel-Palestine conflict. It is more important than ever for meetings such as these.

Your commitment for peace and reconciliation amongst nations and peoples, which is founded on the message of the Gospel and expounded by the Orthodox Church, is highly commendable and increasingly vital For your capacity as active parliamentarians of your respective Orthodox countries, including the great world power of the Russian Federation, is indeed significant not only for the benefit of your own constituencies, but for the whole world, especially our Middle East region.

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” says our Lord Jesus Christ, the “Sun of Justice,” who was born in this very city of Bethlehem.

The Church of Jerusalem known as the Rum (Greek) Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, all Palestine and Jordan, shares a common mission with the sister Churches and joins you in your courageous and philanthropic initiatives, which is our moral obligation before God and toward our fellow man, with whom we share a common nature and common destiny.

For as Saint Paul says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a dear conscience desiring to act honorably in all things.”

Dear brothers and sisters, once again we welcome you to the Holy Land as messengers of peace and reconciliation. For “Blessed are the peacemakers,”

May Our Lord, the Prince of the Incarnate Peace, guide your footsteps, enlighten your minds, and bless your mission”.

 

His Beatitude

THEOPHILOS III

Patriarch of Jerusalem




“INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ON ORTHODOXY” AT DINNER WITH HIS BEATITUDE

On Sunday the 7th/20th of October 2013, the Secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, following its visit to the Holy Sepulcher, the Patriarchate and the Cave of the Nativity, and having completed its assignments in the city of Bethlehem, hosted dinner in honour of His Beatitude Theophilos, Our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem. His Beatitude was accompanied by Patriarchal Commissioner Isychios, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Kapitolias; Elder Secretary-General Aristarchos, His Eminence the Archbishop of Constantina; Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, His Eminence Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan; Archimandrite f. Theophanes, Substitute Chief of MISSIA, the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, and other Fathers. Dinner was held at the hotel Manger Square, near the Basilica of Bethlehem.

Invited to dinner were representatives of Churches, and high-ranked officials of the Palestinian Autonomy.

In the course of dinner, His Beatitude addressed those present in English. His speech may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2013/10/20/3160

Further details on what was discussed during the visit of the Secretariat of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy to the Patriarchate as well as during the aforementioned dinner, will be posted here in due course.

From the Secretariat-General




SECRETARIAT OF INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ON ORTHODOXY VISITS PATRIARCHATE

On the afternoon of Saturday the 6th/19th of October 2013, the Secretariat of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy visited the Patriarchate.

The delegation, consisting of approximately thirty-five members, was received by His Beatitude Theophilos in the presence of Fathers of the Holy Sepulcher.

During the visit, Secretary General Mr Anastasios Nerantzis pointed out that the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy consists of distinguished members from twenty-five Orthodox countries, with Greece and Russia being the Assembly’s pillars and guarantors.

In his address to His Beatitude, the President of the General Assembly, Mr Sergei Popov said:

“We are especially pleased to visit the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the most ancient religious institution in the Holy Land. Its peacemaking, conciliatory and political role, since 451 AD onwards, we deeply appreciate, alongside the personal work of Your Beatitude”.

“We are also pleased over the fact that our paths cross, namely the path of the Patriarchate and the path of our organization, as we too aim and pursue the promotion of peace, change which is personal and social alike, and reconciliation. It is with emotion that we visit the Holy Sepulcher and the Patriarchate, in solidarity to its work in the flaring region of the Middle East and beyond”.

In His reply speech, His Beatitude expressed his joy over the fact that the Orthodox Church is today assigned with an important role in the life of humanity. Its foremost task is man’s healing, change, conciliation; it does not promote political interests or the objectives of globalization. This is the work of the Orthodox Church in its entirety, especially so of the Church of Jerusalem from where the Christian truth emerged as a message of peace, change and justice.

For its work the Patriarchate enjoys the respect and appreciation not only of the other Churches but also of political governments and religions in the area, Judaism and Islam. That is why the Patriarchate expects support and solidarity, not undermining. It maintains the sanctity of the All-Holy Sites of Pilgrimage which are not to be visited only as museums but also as functional spaces.

“The sites of pilgrimage are worthy of respect for Christians, Muslims and Jews”, His Beatitude pointed out.

“Political and religious groups claim exclusivity to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, as we all know, is internationally a corpus separatum. For us, Jerusalem is the spiritual capital of the whole world” said His Beatitude and went on to add:

“[…] For this reason the Patriarchate plays a role in the settlement of the political status of Jerusalem. That is why we have been trying to convince our Orthodox brothers to support the Patriarchate and not use it to achieve political goals. I mean that the Patriarchate has offered blood and money for Christians. We happily receive both Orthodox and non-Orthodox pilgrims because their presence attests to the fact that the sites of pilgrimage belong to the whole world. There is in Jerusalem the paradox of multicultural tension and at the same time peaceful coexistence. The Patriarchate is the only autocephalous and indigenous Church, hence in it meet the most extreme with the most moderate elements”.

At the end of his speech His Beatitude offered the President of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, Mr Sergei Popov, and Secretary General, Mr Anastasios Nerantzis, the “History of the Church of Jerusalem”, a depiction of the Nativity and icons of the Holy Sepulcher; He also offered Jerusalemite eulogias to all members of the Assembly.

Subsequently, the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy left for two-day assignments in the city of Bethlehem where they visited the Basilica of the Nativity.

From the Secretariat-General

httpv://youtu.be/U2xJriV–qw




BETHLEHEM COMMUNITY COUNCIL HOSTS DINNER IN HONOUR OF HIS BEATITUDE

On the evening of Monday the 1st/4th of October 2013, the newly elected Jamaiyie, namely the Council of the Greek Orthodox Community of Bethlehem, headed by its President in the presence of its thirteen new members, hosted dinner at its seat near the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in honour of His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem. HB was accompanied by the Patriarchal Commissioner in Bethlehem, His Eminence Theophylaktos, Archbishop of Jordan; the Elder Secretary-General, His Eminence Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constanina; Fhes hegoumen, the Reverend Archimandrite f. Hieronymos and the four Arabic-speaking Presbyters of the Community: f. Georgios Bantak, f. Spyridon Samour, f. Tziries Martzouka and f. Issa Thaltzie.

At the dinner which was hosted in honour of His Beatitude and aimed at hand-to-hand cooperation on topics concerning the Community of Bethlehem, Jamaiyie President Mr Azmi Juha addressed His Beatitude in Arabic. This speech may be read here: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/10/14/2764

Mr Juha also offered His Beatitude an exquisite icon of Theotokos. In response, His Beatitude extended his thanks for the icon and made a reply speech in Arabic, see:  https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/ar/2013/10/14/2765

From the Secretariat General




REMARKS AT THE FESTAL LUNCH IN CELEBRATION OF THE 1.700TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EDICT OF MILAN.

Nis, 6 October 2013

 

Your All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew,

Your Holiness, Patriarch Irenej,

My Brother Patriarchs and Primates,

Beloved Concelebrants in the Lord,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Monastics,

The Precious Faithful of the Orthodox Church of Serbia, Esteemed State and Civic Leaders,

On the occasion of this great celebration of the 1 700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, we greet you with joy and with the blessings of the Holy Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we bring with us the prayers and best wishes of your fellow Christians in the Holy Land, with whom the Orthodox Church of Serbia has had a relationship that is generations old.

We recall the words of Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans:

“If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom. 6:8-9).

This is the glorious message of the Holy Tomb, the Light that shines forth to all nations. It is in this Light that we rejoice today in our gathering of the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches of Christ in this City of Nis, in our communion in Christ in the Patriarchal Liturgy that we have just concelebrated, and in this wonderful festal meal.

Our joy and happiness are full when we remember that it is the Emperor Saint Constantine the Great, who was born in this city, who has brought us together. His native city of Nis takes justifiable pride in this great anniversary – and not this city only, but also the whole country of Serbia and the Orthodox Church of this land. And as we celebrate his birthplace, we also recognize that Jerusalem became his spiritual home. There the name of Saint Constantine will be forever attached to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was found, raised up, and honoured by Saint Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena.

Our sense of pride in Christ for Saint Constantine the Great is absolutely justified. For when he received the full assurance of faith from above through the sign of the cross, like the Apostle Saint Paul, he abandoned the ignorance and the disrespect of his forebears, and took to heart the teaching of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He received baptism, and in the year 313 he issued his justly famous Edict of Milan, the anniversary of which we celebrate today.

This edict has left an indelible mark for all time on the history of the Church and of the world. For this edict liberated the Church from the darkness of the catacombs, brought our life into the full light of day, and so helped the Church to be spread throughout every land, building great churches and monasteries. Among the first are the Church of the Anastasis in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Because of this edict the Christian religion, once it had been set free, became gradually the official religion of the Romano-Orthodox Empire.

The first Ecumenical Council was summoned and presided over by Saint Constantine. After his death the Church recognized his achievements, and with his mother, the Empress Saint Helena, the Church came to venerate them both as Godly-crowned sovereigns, Equals-to the-Apostles, and great saints of the Ecumenical Church.

In the person and work of Saint Constantine, we Orthodox Christians not only take pride; we also take him as our example, living as we do today in a society that is composed of a multiplicity of ethnicities, languages, and cultural traditions and customs. From this great cultural richness we complete each other as members of the one, integral, undivided body of the Orthodox Church.

Let us listen to the words of Saint Constantine himself, who speaks to us across the ages:

“By guarding the divine faith, I partake of the light of truth. By being guided by the light of truth, I advance in the full knowledge of divine faith.”

(Eusebius, Life of Constantine 4.9 )

This is our vocation and mission today as Orthodox Christians, and our anniversary celebration is an encouragement to us to renew our efforts to be true to this inheritance of faith.

We commend to the prayers of the Most Holy Mother of God and Blessed Virgin Mary, the Godly-crowned Emperor Saint Constantine and his mother, the Empress Saint Helena, equal-to-the Apostles, the opportunities and challenges that lie before our sister Church of Serbia, as you work to overcome the difficulties that are placed in your way by powers that are opposed to the Gospel. And we pray that all our Orthodox Churches may grow in the bond of peace, so that we may increase and bear true witness to our Triune God in the entire world.

May God bless the Orthodox Church in this beloved land, and all her peoples.

Thank you.

HIS BEATITUDE

THEOPHILOS III

PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM




PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM PARTICIPATES IN THE CELEBRATIONS FOR EDICTUM MEDIONALENSE 1700TH ANNIVERSARY

During the period between the 21st to the 25th of September/ 4th to 8th October 2013, the Patriarchate of Serbia celebrated the 1700th anniversary of the Edictum Mediolanense, issued by Constantine the Great (in 313 AD) who hailed from the ancient city of Naissos, namely present-day Nis, Serbia. The Edict of Milan allowed the Christian religion within the Roman state.

His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by His Eminence Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constantina and Elder Secretary-General; His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kattara, who had pursued theological studies in the Belgrade Faculty of Theology, and Archdeacon f. Athanasios.

His Beatitude and retinue, who arrived in Belgrade on the evening of Friday, the 21st of September/4th of October 2013, were received by His Beatitude Irinej, Patriarch of Serbia, in the presence of Prelates, Hieromonks and Hierodeacons.

During this warm reception, His Beatitude Irinej thanked His Beatitude Theophilos for accepting the invitation of the Church of Serbia to participate in the celebrations for the recognition of the Christian religion by means of the Edict of Milan, adding he was particularly happy about the pilgrims coming from the Holy Sepulcher.

In response, His Beatitude Theophilos extended His thanks for the warm reception and for the reason that, beyond the significance of the Edict of Milan for the Church and the world, the very meeting of the Heads of Orthodox Churches or their representatives was in itself significant for further tightening their relations.

In the meantime, His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Albania, arrived, and was cordially received by the Patriarchs of Serbia and Jerusalem, who were still at the airport with their respective Retinues.

On the following day, Saturday the 22nd of September/5th of October 2013, Doxology was held in honour of the event at the great and historical Cathedral of Sts Taxiarchai which stands in the center of Belgrade, opposite the Patriarchate.

During Doxology, the Patriarch of Serbia addressed the Heads of Churches and their retinues, whilst the Most Reverend Irinej, Metropolitan of Baska, translated into impeccable ancient Greek. The Patriarch underlined the importance of the work of Constantine the Great and of significance of the Edict issued by him, as well as the significance of the Gathering of the Heads of Churches in his birthplace of Nis, with the aim of working together towards the resolution of problems and for a broader fraternal society in favour of justice, love and unity in the world.

On behalf of the Heads of Churches spoke the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Greek, whilst the Metropolitan of Baska translated into Serbian.

After the apolysis of the liturgy, a reception followed at the Patriarchate of Serbia.

From there, the Heads of Churches and their retinues visited the Serbian President, His Excellency Mr Tomislav Nicolic. Mr Nicolic expressed his joy over the celebrations held by the Church and the State of Serbia as well as for the Inter-Orthodox participation.

Following a short rest break, the Heads of Churches and their Retinues left for the city of Nis. After a three-hour drive, they held Doxology at the Cathedral of Sts Constantine and Helena in Nis.

On the morning of Sunday the 23rd of September/5th of October 2013, an Inter-Orthodox Patriarchal Joint Liturgy was held at the forecourt of the aforementioned Cathedral. Participating in the Joint Liturgy were thousands of pious Serbs, led by their President, Mr Tomislav Nicolic.

At the conclusion of the liturgy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made a speech.

Subsequently, the Patriarch of Serbia conferred the medal of St Constantine the Great, first class, to each of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches, and to the President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr Tomislav Nicolic. The Prelates accompanying the Heads of Churches were decorated with the medal of St Constantine, second class.

Lunch followed, during which each Primate made an address. The address of His Beatitude Theophilos may be read here in English: https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/2013/10/11/3130

Due to pastoral requirements, namely the feast of St Thekla, His Beatitude left on the morning of Monday the 27th of September/ 7th of October 2013, whilst His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Kattara, undertook to represent the Patriarchate in the rest of the festive celebrations of the Church of Serbia.

From Belgrade, His Beatitude flew for Constantinople with Turkish Airlines and from there arrived in Jerusalem during the early hours of Monday the 24th of September/7th of October 2013, in order to lead the procession for the feast of St Thekla, Great Martyr and Equal to the Apostles.

From the Secretariat-General