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THE EPITAPH SERVICE AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Good Friday evening, 17/30 April 2021, the Epitaph Service was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

On this feast, which was led by our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos the chanting began with the Canon of Holy Saturday, until His Beatitude, the Archbishops and the Priests were dressed in their liturgical vestments. Then the Synaxarion of the day was read, about the Burial and the Cathode into Hades of our Lord Jesus Christ, followed by the Procession with a special prayer around each of the shrines. After the shrines on the ground floor, the Procession marched up to the Horrendous Golgotha, the Gospel narrative on the Crucifixion was read and the silk corporal, full of flowers, was removed from the Altar, to be placed at the Holy Deposition slate, before marching three times around the shrine, then around the Sacred Edicule and the silk corporal was placed on the Holy Tomb.

Then the chanting of the 3 Parts of the Lamentations began, to conclude with the Epitaph Sermon which was read by Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina. The Sermon is as per below:

How shall I bury Thee, my God?

How shall I wrap Thee in a winding sheet?

How shall I touch Thy most pure body with my hands?

What song at Thy departure shall I sing to Thee,

 O, compassionate Saviour?

I magnify Thy sufferings; I sing the praises of Thy burial

and Thy Resurrection crying: O Lord, Glory to Thee”

 

With these weeping words,

Your Beatitude Father and Master,

Reverend chorea of Hierarchs,

Your Excellency Mr Consul General of Greece,

Reverend Fathers,

Noble Christians

Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene, down from the Wood and buried Him in a new tomb “wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:41).

This event, the deposition from the Cross and the burial of the Divine Body of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ and His descent into Hades, is commemorated by the Church today. It is held at Matins before the dawn of the Holy and Great Saturday, during this modest contrite Epitaph Service on Holy and Great Friday evening.

Today the Church primarily commemorates the Cross. It gratefully remembers that for the salvation of the people, the Lord willingly accepted the Passion on the Cross, for which He was condemned unjustly and illegally.

 It commemorates the Lord’s words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). The Cross was God’s Providence in order to heal the man, the great wound. This redeeming Providence of God does not make the crucifiers choice a necessity. They behaved according to their own free will. They crucified Jesus of Nazareth because they did not recognize the Son of God in Him. The healings He performed on the Sabbath days were considered a violation of God’s Law; the remission of sins and the revelation that He is “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (Mark 14:21). However, in His love, God turned the iniquity of men into their benevolence. He granted them remission of their sins by the Blood of the Incarnate Son of His; “by the emptying of Your divinely flowing blood, O Master Christ, from Your pure and life-giving side” (Octoechos, Sunday Matins, Ode 9, tone 5) as it is inscribed on the Holy Altar of the Horrendous Golgotha. “Springs of remission, life, salvation and eternal life” are gushing out from the Blood and Water that were shed from the Cross once and for all, and from the Blood that is shed in every Holy Eucharist “the Blood of the New Testament” (Luke 22:23).

The great Prophet Isaiah foretold centuries ago about this mystery of the Divine Philanthropy: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. Surely Ηe hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Ηim stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed. All we, like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Reading of Isaiah, 6th Royal Hour of Good Friday).

Despite this foretelling by Isaiah and of the other Prophets’ words, despite the fact that the Incarnate Lord “Jesus of Nazareth spent” His life on earth “benefiting and healing people”(Acts 10:38), despite the signs and the miracles, despite that fact that “never man spake like this man” (John 7:46), “the preaching of the Cross” according to Saint Paul remains for “the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:23), but to those who believe in Him “it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Christ’s Cross, “as God’s power and God’s wisdom” is believed and venerated by the Church, His Body, which has been gushed from His pierced side. The Church accepts and preaches Him to the world, as her Crucified Bridegroom and as the one who through the meekness of the Cross is “the King of Glory”, Who by the power of His sacrifice on the Cross and humility went down to Hades with Divine authority and His descent into Hades, as it is also depicted in the icon, is already His Resurrection for the Church, as He co-raises Adam and his long-ago bound descendants, and they return to Paradise; this is the event that we experience at this moment with the Cross. For this reason, the grateful Church sings thus: “We venerate Thy Cross Oh Master, and we magnify and glorify Thy Resurrection”.

The Church has also included our Roman Greek nation among those who accept the Cross of Christ as “God’s power and God’s wisdom”. This nation has been distinguished at all fields of science and left an incomparable beneficial – classical and scientific – heritage to all the nations; it also distinguished itself – what an irony! – at mythological imagination and ingenuity. However, it realised the non-existence of its mythology “at the appointed time” and accepted Christ and was transformed from a pagan nation to a Christian nation, a holy nation.  The first fruits of this “little leaven which leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6), were those who believed in Apostle Paul’s preaching unto Areopagus, “among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:34). Ever since, as Rum Orthodox, we gratefully accept the gift of “believing in Christ and suffering for Christ”, as grace and a blessing, and as a talent, we need to multiply, without boasting over “the good olive tree” (Romans 11:24), always remembering that we were a wild olive tree, and were “grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11;17) and pray for Christ’s crucifiers, just as Christ prayed for them from the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), and co-suffer with them, just as Paul said: “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren”, meaning that I could wish, if possible, to be separated for good from Christ for the sake of my brethren, “my kinsmen according to the flesh, which are the Jews” (Romans 9:3). We do not forget that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29), which means that the first-called Jews and all the unbeliever Gentiles are still awaited at the Cross of Christ. This was and shall be the mindset of our nation, that of Paul’s, that is, Jewish, Evangelical, not anti-Jewish or Anti-Semitic.

These marvels of God, of the salvation of the people in Christ Incarnate and Crucified, Who slept in the flesh and was Resurrected, the Church of Holy Sion, “which was the first to receive the remission of sins through the Resurrection”, holds like a gift and a consignment not only to experience physically but also to preach and proclaim them at the land where they were revealed. At this hour, surrounding the blessed and life-giving Tomb, in this contrite Epitaph Ceremony, which is blessed by its Holy Primate, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Church of Jerusalem primarily prays for the rapid and complete cure of the tested humanity by the infectious pandemic, for the peace and good state of the whole world, for the stability and unity of the Holy Orthodox Churches of God and for the advancement and progress of our nation for the glory of our Trinitarian God. So be it.”

After the Sermon the changing by Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos continued with the Blessings, the Praises and the contrite Service finished. The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and the Consulate staff, along with many faithful, due to the lifting of the covid-19 restrictions. However, there were no pilgrims, as they are still not allowed to travel to Israel.

At the end of the Service, the Patriarchal Entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters to prepare for the Service of the Holy Light the next morning.

From Secretariat-General




THE NAMEDAY OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS III

On Saturday 14/27 March 2021, the Name Day of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III was celebrated by transference as “Parresia” (Boldness) according to the Status Quo at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In the afternoon of the previous day, after the reading of the ninth Hour at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Patriarchal Entourage marched in Procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Vespers was officiated in the Catholicon by His Beatitude, with Hagiotaphite Archbishops praying inside the Altar and the co-celebration of the Service was held by Hagiotaphite Hieromonks.

On Feast Day, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom was officiated by His Beatitude at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences; Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, the Archbishops; Damascene of Yaffo, Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Theodosios of Sebastia, Demetrios of Lydda, Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis and Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Archdeacon Mark and other Deacons. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon, the Patriarchal Representative in Acre-Ptolemais Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, Monks, Nuns and members of the Greek Community of the Patriarchate’s flock.

After the Divine Liturgy, there was a Doxology for the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and the event of the celebration of His Beatitude’s Name Day.

The Doxology was followed by the return to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General addressed His Beatitude as follows:

“Your Beatitude Father and Master,

The commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs, who confessed the Name of Christ and were brutally tortured, suffering martyrdom at the glacier of the lake Sabastia of Pontus during the reign of Liciniοus in AD 320, projects the 9th March as a bright station of spiritual supply of courage and hope for the faithful, in order to continue the fasting and every other virtue in their course towards the experience of the Holy Pascha.

These Μartyrs, who fought well and received the crown of victory are festively honoured by the whole Church today because they considered death as nought, and through death, they exchanged the earthly life with the unending eternal one. “They lost their souls, their lives for the sake of Christ and found it again in Him” (Matt. 10:39). They are more festively celebrated by the Mother of Churches and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood because Your Beatitude bears the name of one of them. Honouring these Saints today, and as a Martyr, the Church of Jerusalem offers its deep respect to Your Beatitude, the owned honour and the monastic and Hagiotaphite obedience in Christ. Following the Status Quo, we celebrated the Divine Eucharist with a Doxology at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Body and Blood of Christ were united, and by this power, there was intercession for the unity of faith and the communion in Christ in its bosom and among the Orthodox Churches of God. We firstly prayed for the health and stability of our Father and Shepherd. We asked God that He may “grant Your Beatitude to the holy Churches in peace, sound, righteous, healthy, in long life and keep the word of truth right”.

By the dwelling in us of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth from the divine Eucharist, we truly address Your Beatitude in this historic hall of the Patriarchate, remembering all things of good fame, zeal and tireless Pastoral care You have accomplished for our Patriarchate.

Initially, it is mentioned that Your Beatitude has made every effort so that the holy Shrines, which suffer unprecedented consequences in their long history due to the lack of pilgrims within the covid-19 pandemic, still function as places of worship with the keeping of all Liturgical Services according to the Status Quo, with few or more Monks, Nuns or local faithful Christians, after the agreement with the Health Authorities of each area of the Patriarchate’s jurisdiction.

The unavoidably influenced by the pandemic spiritual and administrative communication has been conducted through the internet with the well-known by now “zoom”, either for the resumption of the dialogue to strengthen the unity between the Orthodox Churches, or for the activation of issues of participation of the Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches or the Middle East Council of Churches, or for the meetings of the Heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem under the care of the Patriarchate, or for the operation of the Synodical institution, enabling thus the participation of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod who live in Greece and Jordan.

As far as the financial issue is concerned, yes, there have been delays in the payment of the monthly blessing of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, the clergy and teachers’ salaries, as well as of other employees of the Patriarchate, mainly due to the pandemic, resulting in difficulties of money transactions by the banks, however, there have not in any case been any pay cuts nor layoffs. Relevant to this, we should mention in gratitude that the granted financial aid to Monks and Clergy by the Greek General Consulate in Jerusalem, through a noble source a few months ago, came like the dew of Hermon in the existing financial draught.

For the needs of the Holy Churches of our Rum-Orthodox Arab-speaking flock, our Patriarchate responded through the aid of donors, as in the case of the iconostasis and the icons of the Holy Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Kufr Smea and of the Holy Church of the Dormition in Sahnin Community of Acre-Ptolemais area in northern Israel.

The care and persistence You showed from the beginning for the securing of the real estate of the Patriarchate continued with the recent payment of City Hall tax, known as “arnona” of 2.000.000 Nis, for the securing of Petra hotel by Jaffa Gate, which has unjustly been involved in the opaque illegal and catastrophic for the finances of the Patriarchate agreement of 2003.

All these, Your Beatitude, are recalled, not for boasting and rest, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14), but in order to strengthen the mindset of hope and cooperation among us as members of the honoured venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, and our cooperation,  the members, with our Spiritual Head of Yours, as our Hegoumen, so that we may find ourselves keeping the advice of Saint Basil the Great, “to have the love of one another in our nature” and “to prefer the social and united than the schismatic and peculiar”(Speech 8, EPE 4, p.328). Acting thus, behaving thus, living thus, we become worthy and continuators of our ancestors who spent their lives in fights, deprivations and sacrifices in order to sustain Orthodoxy and the inheritance of the nation of the Byzantine Romans in the Holy Land, who also contributed in the liberation of our nation from the bitter slavery of the four hundred years, of which we celebrate the 200th anniversary.

Raising my glass to toast, Your Beatitude Father and Master, I wish You on behalf of the Brotherhood and the Holy and Sacred Synod, many happy returns, in peace, joy, stability, in full governmental power of the Holy Spirit, in order to guide the vessel of the Church of Jerusalem and of the Brotherhood enlightened by the good works of the Gospel, to harbours of fair life and of salvation, for the praise of our blessed nation and the glory of our God in one Trinity. So be it.”

After His Eminence, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras addressed His Beatitude as follows:

“Your Beatitude,

Your Eminences,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Today’s celebration has special importance for all of us, the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the pious flock, among them those serving in the Consulate General of Greece, as we honour the name day of the Primate of the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of Churches, His Holy Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

It is a great pleasure for me to attend this celebration for the first time since taking office in Jerusalem.

Your Beatitude, on this occasion, allow me, on behalf of the Greek State, to express to you the respect, love and gratitude of Greece for Your great pastoral work, for the important and national work of preserving and promoting the Holy Shrines to the Holy Land and for the defence and promotion of the universal values ​​of Orthodoxy in it.

Through a series of Your initiatives, You have been promoting the restoration and promotion of the Holy Shrines of Christianity, while taking care of the maintenance of the Status Quo in the Holy Land and the spiritual guidance and prosperity of a flock that is undergoing significant trials.

Your devotion to these sacred duties, Your dedication to this multidimensional work, Your tireless efforts, Your insight and integrity, with which You carry out Your high mission, are recognized by all, establishing the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as a leading factor of peace, reconciliation and moderation, in a troubled region that still faces great challenges and where many declare their desire for a peaceful future, but few work honestly and effectively to achieve it.

The sincere disposition of concert, reconciliation, and tranquillity that Υou display and systematically cultivate, not only in Your relations with other doctrines and other religions, in the particular environment of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but also in the context of the wider effort of reconciliation and peace-making in this multi-tested area, steels the moral stature and prestige of our Patriarchate, making it a factor of moderation and stability, in an era of liquidity, instability and reorganization that seem to favour fanaticism, intolerance and controversy.

It is certain that the Holy Institution draws strength from the long history and tradition, from the unity, the deep faith and devotion of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and from its leadership, which with conscious knowledge and perception of the circumstances, with vigour and determination, cares for the present and its future.

Let me address to Υou our most sincere and heartfelt wishes for health, longevity and support from the Lord so that Υou can continue to carry out Your high mission.

I would also like to assure Υou and the members of the Brotherhood that our solidarity and support to our Patriarchate, to the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and to You personally is and remains complete and essential, and to express our recognition and admiration for the significant work performed here, as well as for the devotion of the Members of the Brotherhood for the protection, with zeal and self-denial, of the Holy Shrines, which we encounter in all our visits here and which is particularly moving, especially when it is encountered in the aftermath of the current infectious disease. On this occasion, let me express our gratitude for the unparalleled hospitality we have received during our visits here.

Your Beatitude,

The great contribution of the Patriarchate and Υou personally to Orthodoxy and Hellenism, as a long-term custodian of a valuable religious and historical tradition, is widely known. Therefore, for Greece, the defence of the Institution of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, its rights and entitlements, is a very important priority, as recently emphasized by His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of our country, Mr Nikolaos Dendias.

The Greek State and the Greek faithful surround with love and devotion Your work and the work of the Holy Fathers and we pray that Υou may have health, strength, and longevity for the good of the Patriarchate, the Brotherhood, Your Rum Orthodox Flock, the uninterrupted Orthodox Matyria (testimony) in the Holy Land and for the peace in the area.

Many happy and blessed returns!”

His Beatitude thanked all who addressed Him with the following:

“We are not going to admire only one, not even only two…but forty men, who have shown one soul in separate bodies, in one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth,” Saint Basil says, praising the Forty Martyrs.

Your Excellency, Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Noble Christians and pilgrims

“O Lord of hosts, who is like unto Thee? Mighty art Thou, O Lord, and Thy truth is round about Thee” (Psalm 88:8) the Holy Church of Christ cries out loud through the psalmist, on the sacred commemoration of the godly chorea of the Holy Forty Martyrs, who suffered their martyrdom in the city of Sebastia.

These Forty Martyrs, as if having one soul in separate bodies, “courageously entered the water of the lake, and while being contracted by the cold, sent up a song unto the Lord: Be not wroth with us in the rivers O Lord; be not wroth with us in the rivers O Friend of man. Lighten the burden and the bitterness of the air; for with our own blood have our feet been dyed, and Thou, O God, hast led us into Thine everlasting tabernacles, that the bosom of the Patriarch Abraham may warm us” (Minaion, March 9, Matins, Praises Troparion of 2nd Tone), their hymnographer exclaims.

The Holy Forty Martyrs said to the Lord as if having one mouth, “with our own blood have our feet been dyed”, following the true witness of Saint John the Theologian: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). In this faith in Christ did the holy Martyrs see the true light, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) and the “unspeakable joy” (1 Peter 1:8), for these, they zealously sought the cleansing of their sins through their martyrs’ blood.

Today’s celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, as Our Mediocrity bears his name, is a blessed action by God. And this, because the Martyrs who turned the earth into heaven, became luminaries of the universe, namely preachers of the Passion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the Cross, and His Resurrection, saying along with Saint Paul: “in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20).

This distinctive characteristic is noted by Saint Basil the Great, by saying that the Holy Forty Martyrs “have shown one accord and unity of faith, one endurance in the sufferings and boldness for the truth”.

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, as an eye-and-ear witness of the death on the Cross and the three-day burial and Resurrection of our Lord, honouring the sacred commemoration of the Holy athletes and Martyrs, and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos, held the “mystical blessing”, that is the great Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, officiated by Our Mediocrity, surrounded by the members of our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, Archbishops, Priests and Hierodeacons, with the participation in prayer of noble Christians of our flock, glorifying thus the One who has glorified His Saints.

Moreover, we offered a Doxology to the Holy God in one Trinity for Our name day, with the celebration of the Holy athlete and Martyr Theophilos. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20), Saint Paul orders.

The celebrated commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs and especially of their co-martyr Theophilos in the liturgic time of the Church, does not only refer to Our Mediocrity, but especially and primarily to the Apostolic Patriarchal institution, through which it is shown that Christ “is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:17-18), “which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Holy Forty Martyrs became communicants and shared this very blood, the blood of Christ.

Amidst the current test of humanity by the deadly Corona disease, the honoured Holy Forty Martyrs “speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3). And this, because according to Saint Basil, “they are common guardians of the humankind, benign, care participants, prayer accomplices, mighty strong ambassadors, stars of the universe, flowers of the Churches”. “Theirs is the voice; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12).

            The Holy Martyrs again talk to us about “the one mind and unity of the faith”, namely the unity of the local Orthodox Churches. “There was not one homeland for the Saints”, Saint Basil says, “for each one retreated to a different place… As for their human nation, it was different for each of them, while the spiritual [nation] was one for all. For their common Father is God, and all are brethren, not born from one man and one woman, but from the adoption of the Spirit they have been interlocked in the concord of love with one another”. In other words, theirs is the voice, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

To this calling of the testimony of unity, peace and the love of the Gospel of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ we are called, my dear brethren, especially during this blessed period of the Great Lent, having the Holy Forty Martyrs helpers, along with their co-martyr Theophilos, and the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary. Let us entreat them, that in peace, humility and repentance, we may be granted the luminous Resurrection of our God and Saviour of our souls.

For these, we call upon all who prayed along with Us, and honoured Us in this commemoration of the Saints, to have strength from on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also warm thanks to all who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary-General, Most Reverend Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, representative of the Brotherly Church of Russia, who read the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Yaffo, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Yaffo, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the newly-established Beersheba Community, Reverend Father Farah Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James’ Cathedral, Reverend Archimandrite Philotheos, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Acre-Ptolemais, Reverend Archimandrite Niphon, on behalf of the Community of Remla, and all who attended this celebration.

To the health of all of you!”

From Secretariat-General




DOXOLOGY FOR THE NATIONAL ANNIVERSARY OF 25 MARCH 1821 AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Thursday, 12/25 March 2021, the Patriarchate held a Doxology at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the 200th Anniversary of the 25 March 1821 Revolution.

The Doxology was offered as a thanksgiving to God for His strengthening of our Nation’s struggle to be liberated from the four hundred years of slavery to the Ottoman Empire.

After the Doxology, there was a supplication for the repose of the souls of those who fought and gave their lives in this sacred fight, Chieftains, Generals, simple soldiers and national martyrs.

The Doxology was led by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos with the co-celebration of Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks and Hierodeacons, and the co-prayer of Monks and laity, members of the Church and the Greek Community, along with the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras and members of the Consulate.

After the Doxology, at the Great Reception Hall of the Patriarchate, His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“You must guard your faith and consolidate it because when we took the arms, we said first in favour of faith and then in favour of the Homeland!” (From the speech of the Elder of Morias Theodoros Kolokotronis in Pnika, 13 November 1988).

Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Holy Fathers and Brethren,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Today’s Anniversary of March 25 is of particular importance, because this year 2021, marks two hundred years since the pinnacle of modern Greek history, that is, the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

The Revolution of 1821 is undoubtedly a bright milestone not only for the Greek but also for world history. And this, because as Theodoros Kolokortonis says, “When we decided to start the Revolution, we did not think about how many we were, nor that we do not have arms … but the desire for our freedom fell on all of us like the rain, and our clergy and the leaders … we all agreed on this goal and made the Revolution”.

The “desire of freedom”, namely the reason for the existence of freedom which is imprinted in the hearts and minds of the Greeks, is no other than the reason for the existence of freedom in Christ. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1), Saint Paul preaches. This freedom in Christ was impossible to be kept under the power of darkness (Col. 1:13), the barbaric conquest and tyranny of the Ottomans.

We say this because the shaking off of the Ottoman yoke of slavery was not a simple act of heroism and self-sacrifice, but rather an act of imitation of the martyrs of the love of Christ. “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalm 66:12).

The revolt of the fighters of Romiosyni was an act of primary motivation, that is, of class and commonwealth. This is also confirmed by the slogan of the national uprising phrased by the Elder of Morias, Theodoros Kolokotronis: “now our fight is for the holy faith of Christ and the freedom of the homeland”, as well as by the great contribution of the Church with both its upper and lower rank clergy. Hegoumens and simple Monks of many Monasteries became prototypes of a holocaust. They sacrificed themselves watering the tree of freedom with their sacred blood. “Freedom and Romiosyni are twin brothers”, the established poet Ioannis Ritsos says.

The Revolution of 1821 demonstrated the idiosyncrasy of the Greeks, which has been forged by the moral and spiritual values ​​of the Greek-Christian frame of mind; a frame of mind that had endured insults and humiliation due to slavery for four centuries, and finally led to the libating blare of Rigas Feraios “freedom or death”. As for the Church, which is the incarnation of the Greek-Christian frame of mind, it became “the centre and constituent of national life … not as a power over the people and organization, but as an inner force and power, enlivening the national body, uniting its members through the common faith and coordinating its actions” according to the speech of memorable Metropolitan Dionysios of Kozani, on the contribution of the Church during the 1821 Revolution.

The 200th Anniversary of the National Rebirth, celebrated this year, should not be considered merely as a remarkable genealogical of historical memory, but rather as an inexhaustible source of enlightening power that illuminates the soul and mind of all who want to come to the knowledge of the truth, or according to Paul, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and We, according to Saint Paul’s words: “as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:9-10), “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11), went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were we rendered thanksgiving praise and Doxology, as we should, to the Holy Trinitarian God, on the commemoration of the Rebirth of our Noble Nation of the Rum Orthodox. We also prayed for the eternal repose in the land of the living of the souls of those who fought and gloriously fell for the country, in the sacred fights of the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox and suffered a martyr’s death.

For these, let us raise Our glass in a toast and rightfully exclaim:

Long live 25 March 1821!

Long live the noble and Royal nation of the Rum Orthodox!

Long live Hellas!

Long live the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”

The Consul General also delivered the following address:

“Your Beatitude,

Most Reverend Archbishops,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Colleagues,

Dear Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the leading historical moment in the long course of our Nation, the proclamation of the Revolution of ’21, which had as its happy occasion the founding of the modern Greek State and the rebirth of democracy in its cradle.

In every historical period, there is a pole, a historical event that marks it, and becomes a point of reference for all of us later. March 25, 1821, is this milestone in the history of Hellenism, the Balkans, Europe, because the Greeks made the heroic decision to rise up, alone against many, against the Ottoman tyranny and to claim Freedom with their blood.

It is, therefore, a special honour for the Consul General of the Motherland to address the Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood and the Hellenism of the Holy Land, on the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of the Revolution of 1821, a struggle for altars and hearths, a reference point and symbol for the Greek Nation.

It was spring even two centuries ago when Hellenism took up the sacred arms to claim its freedom. This unsurpassed grandeur of the Greeks’ ideal adored as a whole, the ordinary fighters and the Sailors, the Holy Clergy, the merchants and the scribes. “We all have this homeland together, both the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the politicians and the military and the smallest people,” wrote the voice of our collective conscience, General Makrygiannis.

The seeds of the Revolution first took root in areas far from present-day Greece, in Russia, and in the Balkans, where free Greeks were active. The course, however, was not easy. The martyrdom of Rigas and his collaborators from all parts of Hellenism: Ioannis Karatzas (31 years old, a scholar from Nicosia), Efstatios Argentis (31 years old, a merchant from Chios), Dimitrios Nikolidis (32 years old, a doctor from Ioannina), Antonios Koronios (27 years old, a merchant from Chios), Theocharis Georgios Tourountzias (22 years old, a merchant from Siatista), Ioannis Emmanouil (24 years old, a medical student from Kastoria) and Panagiotis Emmanouil (22 years old, Ioannis’brother), in the Neboisa Tower, a riverside fortress in Belgrade, [their martyrdom] inspired the founding of the Friendly Society in Odessa, which spread the seeds of the Revolution.

The vision and expectations of the pioneers of the Revolution, the known and unknown heroes who sacrificed their lives under conditions unimaginable to us today, inspired the enslaved Hellenism and all lovers of freedom around the world, creating the philhellenic movement which shocked Europe and America. It is worth mentioning the case of Haiti, which was the first country to officially recognize our Revolution, sending 100 volunteers and a shipment of 25 tons of coffee to Adamantios Korais to be sold in Paris and the profit to be used to buy weapons for the Revolution.

There are countless examples of heroism and sacrifice above duty during our National Uprising.

Let us consider indicatively the battle of the Hierolochites in the battle of Dragatsani, one of the most moving moments in Greek history, in February 1821, when the Hierolochites sacrificed themselves to one, always faithful to their oath. A valuable exhibit in the Historical Museum of Athens is the black uniform of a Hierolochitis of Dragatsani where the blood with which the fighter grafted the tree of our freedom has been imprinted.

So, we rightly repeat for them the lyrics of our great poet Andreas Kalvos:

“Ας μη βρέξει ποτέ το σύννεφον

και ο άνεμος σκληρός,

ας μην σκορπίσει

το χώμα το μακάριον

που σας σκεπάζει”

Your Beatitude,

Most Reverend Archbishops,

Reverend Fathers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2021 revives our hopes for the decomposition of the current infectious disease. At the same time, for us Greeks everywhere, it is charged with an additional powerful historical symbolism.

The 200th anniversary of our National Rebirth invites us to reflect on the successes and challenges of our National life, and to arm ourselves with courage and perseverance to respond to modern challenges based on the legacy bequeathed to us by the struggle of heroic protagonists of our freedom.

Our National Anniversaries are not just an opportunity to celebrate the past, but they are key points that bring back to our minds the events that forged and shaped the collective historical memory of Greeks everywhere. The vision and values ​​that inspired our freedom fighters can only inspire and guide our action today. Values ​​that acquire an additional sense of timeliness for Hellenism, which is called today as then to defend its national dignity and survival.

For the Holy Land, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as an integral part of our Orthodox faith and Hellenism, has been and remains a point of reference, guardian of the moral and spiritual values ​​of Greek and Orthodox witness (martyria) in the Holy Land as a source of life and hope.

Today’s anniversary underscores the unwavering willingness of Greeks everywhere to uphold our freedom, independence and national pride, knowing full well that the price of freedom is always high and that our country is blessed because there are always those who will willingly pay for this price.

With these thoughts, I invite everyone to exclaim;

 Long live March 25, 1821!

Long live Greece!”

 




PRIEST’S ORDINATION AT THE PATRIARCHATE

 On Friday, 13/26 February 2021, during the All-night Vigil at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Hegoumen of the Shrine of Saint George in Lydda, Hierodeacon Marcellus was ordained a Priest. Father Marcellus came from the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Arizona, which was founded by the memorable Father Ephraim Philotheitis and joined the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood two years ago.

Hierodeacon Marcellus was ordained to Priest by His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, after the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the appointment by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

His Eminence addressed Father Marcellus before the ordination as follows:

“Reverend Hierodeacon Marcellus,

At this hour, as we stand before the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, which received the Creator as being asleep so that He would sanctify and recreate the original beauty of our defiled by sin nature with His resurrection, we are called, by the order, permission and encouragement of His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, and by the approval of the Chaired by Him Holy and Sacred Synod, to entreat the All-Holy and Ceremonial Spirit, in order to ordain you, with the placing of our hands, to the second degree of Priesthood, that of the Priest, and make you a Minister of God’s Sacraments.

A great honour for you; greater is the gift for you; and greatest is the responsibility for you! The Divine Providence of the All-holy Trinitarian God “who trieth the hearts and reins” (Psalm 7:9), has reserved many blessings and unexpected experiences for you. Having been nurtured and brought up spiritually to all matters concerning the angelic-like manner of living at the Holy Monastery of Saint Anthony in Arizona of the USA, under the lead of Geronda Ephraim, you came to the Holy Land and were appointed the duty to serve at the God-receiving Cave in Holy Bethlehem. Then, our most wise Father and Patriarch Theophilos III, along with the Holy and Sacred Synod, approved your application to join our venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, and having assessed your gifts, suggested that you should undertake the duty of the Hegoumen at the Holy Shrine of the Holy Great Martyr George in Lydda, as well as to receive the high ministry of the Priesthood.

And behold! Today “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35)! From today, you are lifted up in the air, from today you are reshaped, from today you are transformed! You receive the Priesthood and with it a new ministry and mission. Your new mission has three positions from which you can behold God.

First the Priesthood. Know that from henceforth you will be a Priest of the Highest! Your task is to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, during which “thousands of Archangels and myriads of Angels” (prayer of the D. Liturgy) will be standing by you. The Holy Altar will be in front of you, where, you will no longer be a servant, but a Minister, receiving and distributing the Divine Grace! From the Holy Altar, you will receive strength, and you will turn to it at your hardships. Watch out, because the cleaner the Priest’s life, the more Grace he receives at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Keep in your mind the vision of Prophet Isaiah, when he saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his glory filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1), and be sure that during the celebration of the Bloodless Sacrifice, this vision will be unfolded before you, even if you won’t be able to view it with your human eyes.

The second is the Pastoral mission. From henceforth, you are called “not to give sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids” (Psalm 132:4). From today you become a vessel of the Divine Grace, in order to convey to every man coming to you the water of Eternal Life, that “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Your care for the flock of our Patriarchate in Lydda and for the pilgrims who come from all over the world makes it imperative for you to have unceasing continuous care so that they may be benefited spiritually and carry on to their path to salvation. Keep in your heart the words of Saint John of the Ladder; “the true shepherd is revealed by his love. For it was out of love that the Shepherd was crucified” (Ladder of the Divine Ascent, to the Shepherd, 24).

The third and last position of your mission is that of the Hagiotaphite. As a Hagiotaphite Hieromonk, continuator of the tradition of the Order of the Studious Ones, in addition to the aforementioned advice, you should have a tireless watch over the Holy Shrine which you are called to serve. Be a sleepless guardian, preserving and sustaining the spiritual and material property which has been handed over to us by the older Fathers, as well as all other precious items of our noble Faith. And be aware that our Fathers of old preserved these holy places with blood, tears and sweat. Rest sure, that the Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer George, who “was a soldier of the King of the ages” (Vespers of St George), will be your guardian and companion in this struggle.

Having admonished you with these, as a brother and as a Father, obeying the order of His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch Theophilos III, we invoke for you the Grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb, of the God-receiving Cave, the intercessions of the Most Holy and Most-Pure Theotokos who received the Annunciation in Nazareth, and of the Holy Glorious Great Martyr and wonder worker George the Trophy-bearer, and call you, to “enter into His tabernacles…to the place of his footstool” (Psalm 132:7).”

 

With the invocation of the Divine Grace and the placing of the Metropolitan’s hands, the members of the Lydda parish and the Hagiotaphite Fathers exclaimed the words “Axios, Axios!” for the ordained.

After the Divine Liturgy, the ordained Priest hosted a reception for the ordaining Metropolitan and all present at the Office of Geronda Sacristan, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis.

The next morning, Hieromonk Marcellus came to the Office of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and received His blessing and instructions for the care of our Arab-speaking flock at the Shrine of Lydda.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN AND GEORGE THE HOZEVITES

On Thursday, 8/21 January 2021, the Patriarchate celebrated the commemoration of Saints John and George the Hozevites.

On this Feast, the Church, and especially the Church of Jerusalem commemorates Saint John. He abandoned the general pastoral care and retreated in the valley of Chorath, at the hermitages of the first ascetic fathers, Zenon, Elias, Eandas, Ganneos and Promos. Saint John made the former hermitage a Monastic centre and a famous Monastery due to his holiness and guided thousands of Monks in ascesis. Saint George came from Cyprus and reconstructed the Monastery after the 614 AD Persian raid.

The two Saints are considered to be the founders of the Monastery due to their mission there.

Their commemoration was celebrated with an All-night Vigil, officiated by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

Welcoming His Beatitude, the Hegoumen and renovator of the Monastery, Archimandrite Constantine said the following:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

with Your Reverend Entourage

The Holy Founders of this Holy Lavra, John and George the Hozevites, came in the desert of Judea, a desert, arid and harsh land, having first renounced the world. Through their ascesis and cleansing from the passions, they stroke the devil very hard, right here, at the centre of his kingdom, the desert!

It is with great emotion that I always remember the inspired words of our father, Hieromonk Anthony, the memorable predecessor of my mediocrity, who told to a pilgrim in 1991 about the monastic, ascetic life and of the Hozevite Saints.

Among other things, Fr Anthony had said: “…we are never alone. You feel the presence of the Saints here. And you feel much security…There is a different kind of grace in the Desert, and we are very peaceful! And we are always optimistic!

God is with us, when, of course, we are on God’s path, and when we strive…

We have to be ready at first, and then God comes. We invoke Him. And the Fathers here, of course, have much to tell us. The Saints set an example with their lives, they showed us ways and paths, so that we may easily gain the life ever after, the eternal one, the life that “endures forever” and exchange the temporary things with the eternal ones…

Christ is the Truth, the Way, the Life, Everything!

Surely for many people the monastic life is strange, a challenge, how can one live by himself, without comforts, without a homeland, without relatives, without all these things that seem to be the meaning of life in our days…Nevertheless, where Christ is, there is no need whatsoever for anything…

We have the Mother of God here, the Protector. And the prayers of the Saints, of the Holy Fathers!

Because they showed us the way, they unmasked the devil with their lives, with their manner of living, they renounced the world completely, not out of hatred for the world, but out of love for the world…And out of love for God…Here the Fathers exist. The Fathers’ books exist, we open, read them and choose…

It’s either Christ or chaos!!”

Such words, Your Beatitude, came from our Father Anthony then, and bringing his words to the present day, amidst the horrible pandemic, which is a plague for the world, we draw hope, patience, serenity and optimism from our faith in Jesus Christ, His Most Holy Mother, the Holy Founders of this Monastery, John and George the Hozevites, and from all the Saints.

As Your Sons, we welcome Your Beatitude, wishing: Happy Feast!”

Co-celebrants to His Beatitude were their Eminences; Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, as the chanting was delivered by the Monastery Monks and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos.

Before the Holy Communion His Beatitude delivered the following Sermon:

“Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious”(Psalm 66:1-2), the psalmist proclaims.

Beloved Fathers and Brethren in Christ,

Noble Christians

The grace of our Holy Father George has gathered us all in this sacred place of the Jordan desert, of Hozeva, in order to rend glory to the Holy Trinitarian God, on the sacred commemoration of His Saint, the one that Lord sanctified; the Lord, who sanctifies those who love Him.

Today, Christ is born in Bethlehem of Judea and is baptized in the Jordan, the Church of the nations is mystically purified and puts on clothing of divine light. The truth has come, God hath appeared to those who sit in the shadow, He who was born from the Virgin has come to save our nation; Saint Andrew of Crete says.

Our Holy Father George longed to be dressed in this garment of the divine light, hearkening to Saint Paul’s words: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked” (2 Cor. 5:2-3).

These clothes of the New Testament’s grace, namely of Christ’s light, did Saint George find in this deserted place of Hozeva, the Jordan district, where “our Lord God, having seen us naked, hath appeared to clothe us in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation” (Minaion January 2, apolytikion).

Saint John the Baptist’s preaching for repentance turned the Jordan desert into the New Adam’s Paradise, namely, a garden of repentance and spiritual progress and development, where numerous ascetics retreated “Seeing [that they] have purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22). The Lavra of Monks that was founded by our Holy Father George became a dwelling place, in which those who longed and still long for “the salvation of the Lord and the studying of his law” (Psalm 119:174), come to know the dynasty and the glory of the majesty of His Kingdom (Psalm 145:12). And this is because, according to the psalmist, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). And according to our Lord Jesus Christ, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

Interpreting these words of the Lord, Zigavinos says: “the birth is not carnal, but spiritual…the carnal birth is felt by the senses; while the spiritual one is noetic, and there is no need to examine the noetic with the senses, nor in a human manner that which is divine”. And Saint Theophylaktos says: “the baptized does not become a divine spirit, but he is deemed worthy to receive the adoption and the grace and the honour in Spirit”.

This very adoption in the Spirit and the grace and the honour did Saint George and all those who followed him in his ascetic striving receive, such as Saint John, Bishop of Caesarea of Palestine, and our contemporary Saint John the New Hozevite from Romania, whose fragrant relics rest before our eyes. These Holy Hozevite Fathers, who illumined the whole world with their miracles, say along with Saint Paul: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:3-5).

The Holy Church of Jerusalem rejoices and is glad because God is miraculous in the protection of His Saints. “God is wondrous in his saints” (Ps. 67:36), King-Prophet David chants. Indeed, God makes his Saints victors over death and corruption, as the hymnographer of Saint George says: “Thou didst utterly despise every delight of this life, O marvellous Father, for the sake of heavenly delight and glory; for thou wast diligent to quench the furnace of the passions with a hard way of life and with thy many tears, O George, august adornment of monks” (Minaion January 8, Ode nine, Troparion 1).

Yes, my dear Brethren, Saint George scorned every delight, arrogance and luxury of this world for the heavenly glory. Therefore, along with Saint Paul and the other Holy Fathers, he says: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21). This great truth is being witnessed by the incorrupt relics of all the Saints, Fathers and Ascetics who illumined this Holy Lavra of Hozeva.

This redeeming message of Saint Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21), is what our Holy Father George along with all his Hozevite co-ascetics saying to all of us. And with the hymnographer, let us say: “To the Lord God Who did descend to the Hebrew Children in the fiery furnace and did transform the flames and the burning heat into dew, chant praises and hymns, O all ye works of His, and exalt Him greatly to ages and all ages” (Minaion, January 8, Ode nine, Heirmos). Amen. Many happy returns!”

The Vigil was followed by a Monastic meal.

From Secretariat-General

 




TELECONFERENCE OF THE HEADS OF CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM

On Monday morning, 29 December 2020/ 11 January 2021, the annual meeting of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem on the occasion of the New Year was held through Zoom, due to the covid-19 measures.

In it, H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos addressed the participating Heads of the other Churches, the Custos of the Holy Land, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem, the Archbishop of the Coptic Church in Jerusalem, of the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem and the others, as follows:

 

“Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Dear Fathers,

We greet you all with the joyful gladness of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heaven and earth are united today, for Christ is born.

Today God has come upon the earth, and man gone up to heaven…

Therefore, let us also give glory and cry aloud to him:

Glory to God in the highest.

(Entreaty, Tone One, for the Nativity)

The unity of heaven and earth, and of God and humankind, which we celebrate at this great feast, is of the utmost importance for us, for it is a reminder to us of the unity and togetherness to which we are called in our mission in the Holy Land. We who call the Holy Land our home, join our prayers from Bethlehem, as we have given witness to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Logos.

The divine mystery of this season brings the Good News, and it is right, that this Good News is associated with the New Year when the hearts of everyone turn to the future in hope. If the world looks to the future in hope, so much more should we, who know the truth of our sacred history, be hopeful, for we know the culmination of our sacred history in the Incarnation.

As it is written in the Revelation of Saint John:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God,

Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

Humanity truly experiences trials, pain, suffering, and death. But unto this darkness, desperation, and hopelessness, the true Light has shone in our world and in our hearts; the Light that has come to enlighten everyone. As we read in the Gospel of Saint Luke:

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness under the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

This is the joy of Christmas. This is the true Light that the New Year brings to us all.

Our mission as Churches and Christian Communities is not for ourselves and our local communities only. It is for the whole world. At this season we are all the more aware of the supreme importance of guarding and serving Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and all the holy places as the witness of the Divine-human encounter, of the union of earth and the heaven in Jesus Christ. And ours is the duty, entrusted to us by Divine Providence, to maintain the Christian character and the sacredness of his land. For here, the sacred history of the Scriptures is written in the stones, which are the living martyria, and here the faithful are caught up in prayer and worship.

We are especially mindful in this holy season of the ongoing challenge posed to the stability and well-being of the Christian presence in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as the integrity of the Status Quo, by radical elements in our society. The arson at the Church of the Agony in Gethsemane makes us all the more aware of the necessity of our mission, and we are resolved in our efforts to protect the Holy Places from such actions.

The ongoing COVID pandemic is an invitation to all of us for soul-searching and recollection. The pandemic has forced us to remember those things that are of ultimate importance, and it is a reminder to us, of how urgent our unity of resolve must be. We can never relax our vigilance or our recognition that we must remain united in mission and witness, as Saint Paul says: “clothing ourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

We welcome the new vaccine, and we look forward in this New Year to the time when our local communities may have their regular life restored to them, and pilgrims may return to us. As we look to this renewed life in our region, we give thanks to Almighty God for the witness and mission that has been entrusted to us, and we pray for the blessing of the new-born Christ for all our peoples.

Thank you.”

From Secretariat-General

 




THE 15-YEAR ENTHRONEMENT ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BEATITUDE THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS III

On Sunday morning, 9/22 November 2020, a Doxology was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the fifteen-year election and Enthronement anniversary of the Holy Primate of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The Doxology was led by His Beatitude, and along with Him, the Archbishops of the Patriarchate, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Patriarchal Representatives and Hegoumens of the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate and Managers of its parishes, that were able to attend due to covid-19 restrictive measures.

The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras with his wife and child and members of the community in Jerusalem.

After the Doxology the Patriarchal entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Consantina was the first to address His Beatitude with the following address:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

The Church of Jerusalem and the inextricably linked to it Hagiotaphite Brotherhood celebrate today a quite important and remarkable event, a joyful and exuberant event. This is the anniversary of the unanimous voting of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the representatives of the flock, for the election of Your Beatitude as the Shepherd of the Church of the Holy Land and Hegoumen of the Order of the Studious, and the consequent ceremony of Your Enthronement and its recognition by all the Orthodox Churches and countries, where our Venerable Patriarchate holds its pastoral mission. This happened in A.D. 2005, after a painful ordeal that shook the foundations of the Church; it shook but did not destroy it, because the One Who founded it in the Holy Land led the Patriarchate back into refreshment.

This event secures the continuation of the unceasing Apostolic succession of the Church of Jerusalem, and the unity of its members for the smooth operation and fulfilment of its divine mission; for this reason, it was festively celebrated – in compromise of course with the covid-19 restrictive measures – at the most precious heirloom of our faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was celebrated with a Doxology to God, as a thanksgiving, because He led us back to refreshment and granted the Church Your Beatitude as its Patriarch and Shepherd. Having thanked God for this, and having prayed for Your health, stability and longevity, we returned to this historic hall of our holy “little house” as the memorable Patriarch Dositheos used to say, in order to wish and congratulate You up close, for all the good works You have accomplished through hardship and toil for our Patriarchate over these last fifteen years.

First of all, we recall that guided by the Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Fathers, You have guided the Hagiotaphite Fathers, Hegoumens of the Shrines and the Holy Monasteries, the clergy and the people to co-operate with the responsible Health Authorities of the governing state for the effective dealing with the fatal epidemic of covid-19 since the beginning of the year. Under this spirit, with the keeping of our Status Quo rights, the Liturgical Services were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. From the Holy Week Services, the Epitaph Service and the All-night Vigil of the Resurrection were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The others, i.e. Palm Sunday, the Washing of the feet and the Service of Love were held at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, with the participation of the designated Priests and only a few faithful, but without any pilgrims, as no pilgrims have arrived in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. The former full of pilgrims Holy City has been empty from pilgrims in its streets and pathways ever since. It is worth remembering that despite the pandemic, the Service of the Holy Light was held exactly according to the Status Quo. By special providence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Police Force of Israel, the Holy Light was transferred to Jaffa Gate by an Archbishop, from where it was received by the representatives of all Orthodox countries. The representatives of the Churches received the Holy Light at Ben Gurion airport, where they were secluded inside the landed planes of their countries. With the Patriarchate’s actions, the Holy Light was transferred in the same day to its Communities in Jordan, the Palestinian areas and in Gaza.

For the relief of the financially weak people, due to the restrictive measures against the pandemic, Your Beatitude has ordered the distribution of packages of food by the Patriarchate to the neediest families in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem and in Ramallah and exempted from one year’s rent the tenants of houses and shops that belong to the Patriarchate. The Fatherly and Pastoral support of Your Beatitude during the pandemic was shown to the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate with Your visits and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in them, along with Your Sermons, which were broadcast through the internet in the Greek, Arabic, English, Russian and Romanian languages.

Your Beatitude’s attitude was unwavering in the case of claiming and safeguarding the Pilgrimage rights of our Patriarchate. This was made manifest over last year’s Epiphany Feast in Bethlehem, when the Armenian Priests, continuing their decades-long provocative behaviour, prevented us from the procedure of taking the Orthodox Icon of Epiphany down to the Holy Cave. Thanks to the persistence and guidance of Your Beatitude, the Hagiotaphite ministers of Bethlehem and those who came to their aid from Jerusalem, despite the physical violence they endured by the Armenians, managed to put the icon in the Cave, having first received the relevant order by President Abu Mazen. We still need to secure our right for this occasion with a special Presidential decree as well, so that it will not be disputed again in the future. A similar event happened over the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on 14 September 2020, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Armenians tried to prevent us from our right to offer incense in the Altar of Saint Helen’s chapel, as they have also done other times in the past. Finally, we performed our right, due to the persistence of Your Beatitude, who stood for more than one hour at the chapel with the Holy Cross placed on Your head, urging the Armenians to withdraw. This happened in the end, of fear of the Israeli Police force who was present video-filming the episode, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Vlioras. These rights of the Orthodox Patriarchate are supported by testimonies written in the pilgrimage codes that we keep, but also in the codes kept by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Franciscans, who supported us in this regard.

Along with the pilgrimage rights, Your Beatitude prioritized also the fortification of the land and building property rights of the Patriarchate, as many times they had been violated, either materially, or by court orders of greedy opportunists. These rights are supported efficiently by the property titles, firmania, veratia, e.t.c., kept in the Patriarchate Archives, for whose better arrangement, Your Beatitude has provided for a new building which is still under construction. For the Archive titles, by Your order and guidance, the Financial Committee and the Legal Advisors of the Patriarchate tirelessly fought in the courtrooms and willingly paid the necessary amounts and the court fees. A recent example of this is the 2 million Shekels that were paid as a tax by the Patriarchate since the tenant of Petra Hotel by Jaffa Gate had not paid this amount. This was done to save the Patriarchate’s property from its seizure by opaque and corrupt multi-year contracts, which were denounced by the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood in the year 2005.

For the more effective operation of the pastoral mission of the Patriarchate, Your Beatitude has especially provided for the Theological or other studies of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, or young people of our flock, granting the relevant scholarships for them, especially in Greece and in Cyprus. By the appointing of new members of the Holy Synod, Your Beatitude has strengthened the Synodical ordinance of the Patriarchate. And by Your care, the renovation project of the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Sacristy is being promoted, with the funding of a reverend source.

All these encourage and strengthen us, Your Beatitude, both the old and the new Hagiotaphite Fathers, in order to stand by Your side and follow You, and also to fight in the good Hagiotaphite cause, for a dynamic Christian Rum-Orthodox testimony in the Holy Land, which will benefit many people.

Raising my glass to a toast, Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod and of the whole Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, I wish You many happy returns, in health, stability, peace and joy, in governmental power and wisdom from on high, for the praise of our Venerable Patriarchate, of our blessed nation and for the Glory of our Trinitarian God.”

This was followed by the addresses of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, His Excellency Mr Evangelos Vlioras, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, the Dean Priest of Saint James Cathedral Fr Charalambos Bandour and others.

His Beatitude thanked all with the following address:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Christians,

Noble pilgrims

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21).

The Holy Church of Christ in Jerusalem, which was sprouted from the rood of Jesse, and which was chosen by the Lord;“ He hath desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13), celebrates today the completion of fifteen years of the governing ministry of Our mediocrity, since Our establishment on the God-founded throne of Hieromartyr James the Brother of God and first ordained Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This sacred event has a special significance for the testimony of Christ’s truth all over the world by the Church, and for the pastoral accountability of its spiritual shepherds, as Saint Paul notes: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:27-28).

According to the Canon of our Hagiotaphite tradition, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, accompanied by the reverend members of our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, where we rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to our God and Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; “to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

Our fifteen-year enthronement anniversary, celebrated amidst the covid-19 pandemic, should be considered an anniversary of renovation and guarantee of the apostolic succession throughout the centuries, which is followed by every Head of the Church of Jerusalem, having its beginning in the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as Saint John, the Evangelist says: “In the beginning was the Word. The same was at the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

And according to the “Teachings of the Apostles”, “the bishop who is the Head, as honoured by God, leads the clergy and rules over all people” (Teachings of the Apostles, B XXVII).

Hearkening to Saint Paul saying: “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1) and following the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We make every effort to the best of Our abilities, to safeguard Our unadulterated Apostolic tradition and healthy faith, as well as to accommodate the spiritual and material needs of the Christian flock which has been entrusted to Us. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2) Saint Peter orders. Moreover, we strive for the keeping of the biblical testimonies of our faith, namely the All-holy Shrines, which preach the incarnation of God the Word, His Passion on the Cross and His Resurrection.

Needless, again, to say, that the safeguarding of the indelible privileges and sovereign rights of the noble and royal nation of the ‘Rum Orthodox’ on the All-holy Shrines is a sacred duty of Our ab antique mission in the Holy Land. Therefore, we never cease raising our voice towards every direction, political and diplomatic, local and international organizations and governments, in order to make the established by international treaties multi-cultural and multi-religious Status Quo respectable, for both the Biblical Shrines and for the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is an international Shrine in itself, as Prophet Isaiah says: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1).

                Being rooted and grounded in the love and faith of Christ, “my spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Psalm 143:4), working in clear consciousness (2 Tim. 1:3) for the prevention of the nesting schism in the bosom of Christ’s body, which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This, after all, was the mission of the Holy Apostles, who were established in the Church of Jerusalem, the preaching of reconciliation, as this is stated by Saint Paul: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).

                Through this enthronement celebration, We are called not to boast, but rather examine the work of our Patriarchal Office, according to Saint Paul’s order: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4).

                In this ministry, the mission of the martyr’s throne of Saint James the Brother of God, we have as accomplices and companions the reverend and dearest Fathers and brothers Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks, Priests, Hierodeacons and Monks, who are distinguished for their fervent zeal and God-pleasing self-sacrifice.

Let us pray to God and Father of lights and truth along with the psalmist: “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Psalm 17:5), by the intercessions of our Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and by the prayers of our Father among the Saints Nectarios of Pentapolis. May the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ strengthen all of us who serve in the All-holy Shrines and shepherd our pious Christian flock.

                For all these, we wish for all who prayed with Us and honoured Us with their presence in this Enthronement Anniversary, strength from on high, the grace of the Holy Sepulchre, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also our gratitude for those who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, the Representative of the Brotherly Holy Church of Russia, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, who conveyed the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, the Representative of the Holy Church of Romania, Reverend Archimandrite Ioannis, who conveyed the wishes of the Patriarch of Romania Daniel, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Joppa, Reverend Charalambos Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James Cathedral, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the Russian-speaking Community of Ber Sheva, Father Romanos, who conveyed the wishes and love of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Mr Athanasios Abu Aeta, Mr Ode Issa and Nibel Baramsi, and all who participated in this celebration of the Enthronement Anniversary.”

At noon His Beatitude hosted a meal for the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

From Secretariat-GeneralOn Sunday morning, 9/22 November 2020, a Doxology was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the fifteen-year election and Enthronement anniversary of the Holy Primate of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The Doxology was led by His Beatitude, and along with Him, the Archbishops of the Patriarchate, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Patriarchal Representatives and Hegoumens of the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate and Managers of its parishes, that were able to attend due to covid-19 restrictive measures.

The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras with his wife and child and members of the community in Jerusalem.

After the Doxology the Patriarchal entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Consantina was the first to address His Beatitude with the following address:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

The Church of Jerusalem and the inextricably linked to it Hagiotaphite Brotherhood celebrate today a quite important and remarkable event, a joyful and exuberant event. This is the anniversary of the unanimous voting of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the representatives of the flock, for the election of Your Beatitude as the Shepherd of the Church of the Holy Land and Hegoumen of the Order of the Studious, and the consequent ceremony of Your Enthronement and its recognition by all the Orthodox Churches and countries, where our Venerable Patriarchate holds its pastoral mission. This happened in A.D. 2005, after a painful ordeal that shook the foundations of the Church; it shook but did not destroy it, because the One Who founded it in the Holy Land led the Patriarchate back into refreshment.

This event secures the continuation of the unceasing Apostolic succession of the Church of Jerusalem, and the unity of its members for the smooth operation and fulfilment of its divine mission; for this reason, it was festively celebrated – in compromise of course with the covid-19 restrictive measures – at the most precious heirloom of our faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was celebrated with a Doxology to God, as a thanksgiving, because He led us back to refreshment and granted the Church Your Beatitude as its Patriarch and Shepherd. Having thanked God for this, and having prayed for Your health, stability and longevity, we returned to this historic hall of our holy “little house” as the memorable Patriarch Dositheos used to say, in order to wish and congratulate You up close, for all the good works You have accomplished through hardship and toil for our Patriarchate over these last fifteen years.

First of all, we recall that guided by the Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Fathers, You have guided the Hagiotaphite Fathers, Hegoumens of the Shrines and the Holy Monasteries, the clergy and the people to co-operate with the responsible Health Authorities of the governing state for the effective dealing with the fatal epidemic of covid-19 since the beginning of the year. Under this spirit, with the keeping of our Status Quo rights, the Liturgical Services were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. From the Holy Week Services, the Epitaph Service and the All-night Vigil of the Resurrection were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The others, i.e. Palm Sunday, the Washing of the feet and the Service of Love were held at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, with the participation of the designated Priests and only a few faithful, but without any pilgrims, as no pilgrims have arrived in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. The former full of pilgrims Holy City has been empty from pilgrims in its streets and pathways ever since. It is worth remembering that despite the pandemic, the Service of the Holy Light was held exactly according to the Status Quo. By special providence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Police Force of Israel, the Holy Light was transferred to Jaffa Gate by an Archbishop, from where it was received by the representatives of all Orthodox countries. The representatives of the Churches received the Holy Light at Ben Gurion airport, where they were secluded inside the landed planes of their countries. With the Patriarchate’s actions, the Holy Light was transferred in the same day to its Communities in Jordan, the Palestinian areas and in Gaza.

For the relief of the financially weak people, due to the restrictive measures against the pandemic, Your Beatitude has ordered the distribution of packages of food by the Patriarchate to the neediest families in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem and in Ramallah and exempted from one year’s rent the tenants of houses and shops that belong to the Patriarchate. The Fatherly and Pastoral support of Your Beatitude during the pandemic was shown to the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate with Your visits and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in them, along with Your Sermons, which were broadcast through the internet in the Greek, Arabic, English, Russian and Romanian languages.

Your Beatitude’s attitude was unwavering in the case of claiming and safeguarding the Pilgrimage rights of our Patriarchate. This was made manifest over last year’s Epiphany Feast in Bethlehem, when the Armenian Priests, continuing their decades-long provocative behaviour, prevented us from the procedure of taking the Orthodox Icon of Epiphany down to the Holy Cave. Thanks to the persistence and guidance of Your Beatitude, the Hagiotaphite ministers of Bethlehem and those who came to their aid from Jerusalem, despite the physical violence they endured by the Armenians, managed to put the icon in the Cave, having first received the relevant order by President Abu Mazen. We still need to secure our right for this occasion with a special Presidential decree as well, so that it will not be disputed again in the future. A similar event happened over the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on 14 September 2020, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Armenians tried to prevent us from our right to offer incense in the Altar of Saint Helen’s chapel, as they have also done other times in the past. Finally, we performed our right, due to the persistence of Your Beatitude, who stood for more than one hour at the chapel with the Holy Cross placed on Your head, urging the Armenians to withdraw. This happened in the end, of fear of the Israeli Police force who was present video-filming the episode, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Vlioras. These rights of the Orthodox Patriarchate are supported by testimonies written in the pilgrimage codes that we keep, but also in the codes kept by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Franciscans, who supported us in this regard.

Along with the pilgrimage rights, Your Beatitude prioritized also the fortification of the land and building property rights of the Patriarchate, as many times they had been violated, either materially, or by court orders of greedy opportunists. These rights are supported efficiently by the property titles, firmania, veratia, e.t.c., kept in the Patriarchate Archives, for whose better arrangement, Your Beatitude has provided for a new building which is still under construction. For the Archive titles, by Your order and guidance, the Financial Committee and the Legal Advisors of the Patriarchate tirelessly fought in the courtrooms and willingly paid the necessary amounts and the court fees. A recent example of this is the 2 million Shekels that were paid as a tax by the Patriarchate since the tenant of Petra Hotel by Jaffa Gate had not paid this amount. This was done to save the Patriarchate’s property from its seizure by opaque and corrupt multi-year contracts, which were denounced by the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood in the year 2005.

For the more effective operation of the pastoral mission of the Patriarchate, Your Beatitude has especially provided for the Theological or other studies of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, or young people of our flock, granting the relevant scholarships for them, especially in Greece and in Cyprus. By the appointing of new members of the Holy Synod, Your Beatitude has strengthened the Synodical ordinance of the Patriarchate. And by Your care, the renovation project of the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Sacristy is being promoted, with the funding of a reverend source.

All these encourage and strengthen us, Your Beatitude, both the old and the new Hagiotaphite Fathers, in order to stand by Your side and follow You, and also to fight in the good Hagiotaphite cause, for a dynamic Christian Rum-Orthodox testimony in the Holy Land, which will benefit many people.

Raising my glass to a toast, Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod and of the whole Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, I wish You many happy returns, in health, stability, peace and joy, in governmental power and wisdom from on high, for the praise of our Venerable Patriarchate, of our blessed nation and for the Glory of our Trinitarian God.”

This was followed by the addresses of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, His Excellency Mr Evangelos Vlioras, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, the Dean Priest of Saint James Cathedral Fr Charalambos Bandour and others.

His Beatitude thanked all with the following address:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Christians,

Noble pilgrims

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21).

The Holy Church of Christ in Jerusalem, which was sprouted from the rood of Jesse, and which was chosen by the Lord;“ He hath desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13), celebrates today the completion of fifteen years of the governing ministry of Our mediocrity, since Our establishment on the God-founded throne of Hieromartyr James the Brother of God and first ordained Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This sacred event has a special significance for the testimony of Christ’s truth all over the world by the Church, and for the pastoral accountability of its spiritual shepherds, as Saint Paul notes: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:27-28).

According to the Canon of our Hagiotaphite tradition, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, accompanied by the reverend members of our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, where we rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to our God and Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; “to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

Our fifteen-year enthronement anniversary, celebrated amidst the covid-19 pandemic, should be considered an anniversary of renovation and guarantee of the apostolic succession throughout the centuries, which is followed by every Head of the Church of Jerusalem, having its beginning in the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as Saint John, the Evangelist says: “In the beginning was the Word. The same was at the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

And according to the “Teachings of the Apostles”, “the bishop who is the Head, as honoured by God, leads the clergy and rules over all people” (Teachings of the Apostles, B XXVII).

Hearkening to Saint Paul saying: “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1) and following the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We make every effort to the best of Our abilities, to safeguard Our unadulterated Apostolic tradition and healthy faith, as well as to accommodate the spiritual and material needs of the Christian flock which has been entrusted to Us. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2) Saint Peter orders. Moreover, we strive for the keeping of the biblical testimonies of our faith, namely the All-holy Shrines, which preach the incarnation of God the Word, His Passion on the Cross and His Resurrection.

Needless, again, to say, that the safeguarding of the indelible privileges and sovereign rights of the noble and royal nation of the ‘Rum Orthodox’ on the All-holy Shrines is a sacred duty of Our ab antique mission in the Holy Land. Therefore, we never cease raising our voice towards every direction, political and diplomatic, local and international organizations and governments, in order to make the established by international treaties multi-cultural and multi-religious Status Quo respectable, for both the Biblical Shrines and for the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is an international Shrine in itself, as Prophet Isaiah says: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1).

                Being rooted and grounded in the love and faith of Christ, “my spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Psalm 143:4), working in clear consciousness (2 Tim. 1:3) for the prevention of the nesting schism in the bosom of Christ’s body, which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This, after all, was the mission of the Holy Apostles, who were established in the Church of Jerusalem, the preaching of reconciliation, as this is stated by Saint Paul: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).

                Through this enthronement celebration, We are called not to boast, but rather examine the work of our Patriarchal Office, according to Saint Paul’s order: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4).

                In this ministry, the mission of the martyr’s throne of Saint James the Brother of God, we have as accomplices and companions the reverend and dearest Fathers and brothers Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks, Priests, Hierodeacons and Monks, who are distinguished for their fervent zeal and God-pleasing self-sacrifice.

Let us pray to God and Father of lights and truth along with the psalmist: “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Psalm 17:5), by the intercessions of our Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and by the prayers of our Father among the Saints Nectarios of Pentapolis. May the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ strengthen all of us who serve in the All-holy Shrines and shepherd our pious Christian flock.

                For all these, we wish for all who prayed with Us and honoured Us with their presence in this Enthronement Anniversary, strength from on high, the grace of the Holy Sepulchre, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also our gratitude for those who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, the Representative of the Brotherly Holy Church of Russia, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, who conveyed the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, the Representative of the Holy Church of Romania, Reverend Archimandrite Ioannis, who conveyed the wishes of the Patriarch of Romania Daniel, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Joppa, Reverend Charalambos Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James Cathedral, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the Russian-speaking Community of Ber Sheva, Father Romanos, who conveyed the wishes and love of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Mr Athanasios Abu Aeta, Mr Ode Issa and Nibel Baramsi, and all who participated in this celebration of the Enthronement Anniversary.”

At noon His Beatitude hosted a meal for the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

From Secretariat-GeneralOn Sunday morning, 9/22 November 2020, a Doxology was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the fifteen-year election and Enthronement anniversary of the Holy Primate of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The Doxology was led by His Beatitude, and along with Him, the Archbishops of the Patriarchate, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Patriarchal Representatives and Hegoumens of the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate and Managers of its parishes, that were able to attend due to covid-19 restrictive measures.

The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras with his wife and child and members of the community in Jerusalem.

After the Doxology the Patriarchal entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Consantina was the first to address His Beatitude with the following address:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

The Church of Jerusalem and the inextricably linked to it Hagiotaphite Brotherhood celebrate today a quite important and remarkable event, a joyful and exuberant event. This is the anniversary of the unanimous voting of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the representatives of the flock, for the election of Your Beatitude as the Shepherd of the Church of the Holy Land and Hegoumen of the Order of the Studious, and the consequent ceremony of Your Enthronement and its recognition by all the Orthodox Churches and countries, where our Venerable Patriarchate holds its pastoral mission. This happened in A.D. 2005, after a painful ordeal that shook the foundations of the Church; it shook but did not destroy it, because the One Who founded it in the Holy Land led the Patriarchate back into refreshment.

This event secures the continuation of the unceasing Apostolic succession of the Church of Jerusalem, and the unity of its members for the smooth operation and fulfilment of its divine mission; for this reason, it was festively celebrated – in compromise of course with the covid-19 restrictive measures – at the most precious heirloom of our faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was celebrated with a Doxology to God, as a thanksgiving, because He led us back to refreshment and granted the Church Your Beatitude as its Patriarch and Shepherd. Having thanked God for this, and having prayed for Your health, stability and longevity, we returned to this historic hall of our holy “little house” as the memorable Patriarch Dositheos used to say, in order to wish and congratulate You up close, for all the good works You have accomplished through hardship and toil for our Patriarchate over these last fifteen years.

First of all, we recall that guided by the Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Fathers, You have guided the Hagiotaphite Fathers, Hegoumens of the Shrines and the Holy Monasteries, the clergy and the people to co-operate with the responsible Health Authorities of the governing state for the effective dealing with the fatal epidemic of covid-19 since the beginning of the year. Under this spirit, with the keeping of our Status Quo rights, the Liturgical Services were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. From the Holy Week Services, the Epitaph Service and the All-night Vigil of the Resurrection were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The others, i.e. Palm Sunday, the Washing of the feet and the Service of Love were held at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, with the participation of the designated Priests and only a few faithful, but without any pilgrims, as no pilgrims have arrived in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. The former full of pilgrims Holy City has been empty from pilgrims in its streets and pathways ever since. It is worth remembering that despite the pandemic, the Service of the Holy Light was held exactly according to the Status Quo. By special providence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Police Force of Israel, the Holy Light was transferred to Jaffa Gate by an Archbishop, from where it was received by the representatives of all Orthodox countries. The representatives of the Churches received the Holy Light at Ben Gurion airport, where they were secluded inside the landed planes of their countries. With the Patriarchate’s actions, the Holy Light was transferred in the same day to its Communities in Jordan, the Palestinian areas and in Gaza.

For the relief of the financially weak people, due to the restrictive measures against the pandemic, Your Beatitude has ordered the distribution of packages of food by the Patriarchate to the neediest families in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem and in Ramallah and exempted from one year’s rent the tenants of houses and shops that belong to the Patriarchate. The Fatherly and Pastoral support of Your Beatitude during the pandemic was shown to the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate with Your visits and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in them, along with Your Sermons, which were broadcast through the internet in the Greek, Arabic, English, Russian and Romanian languages.

Your Beatitude’s attitude was unwavering in the case of claiming and safeguarding the Pilgrimage rights of our Patriarchate. This was made manifest over last year’s Epiphany Feast in Bethlehem, when the Armenian Priests, continuing their decades-long provocative behaviour, prevented us from the procedure of taking the Orthodox Icon of Epiphany down to the Holy Cave. Thanks to the persistence and guidance of Your Beatitude, the Hagiotaphite ministers of Bethlehem and those who came to their aid from Jerusalem, despite the physical violence they endured by the Armenians, managed to put the icon in the Cave, having first received the relevant order by President Abu Mazen. We still need to secure our right for this occasion with a special Presidential decree as well, so that it will not be disputed again in the future. A similar event happened over the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on 14 September 2020, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Armenians tried to prevent us from our right to offer incense in the Altar of Saint Helen’s chapel, as they have also done other times in the past. Finally, we performed our right, due to the persistence of Your Beatitude, who stood for more than one hour at the chapel with the Holy Cross placed on Your head, urging the Armenians to withdraw. This happened in the end, of fear of the Israeli Police force who was present video-filming the episode, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Vlioras. These rights of the Orthodox Patriarchate are supported by testimonies written in the pilgrimage codes that we keep, but also in the codes kept by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Franciscans, who supported us in this regard.

Along with the pilgrimage rights, Your Beatitude prioritized also the fortification of the land and building property rights of the Patriarchate, as many times they had been violated, either materially, or by court orders of greedy opportunists. These rights are supported efficiently by the property titles, firmania, veratia, e.t.c., kept in the Patriarchate Archives, for whose better arrangement, Your Beatitude has provided for a new building which is still under construction. For the Archive titles, by Your order and guidance, the Financial Committee and the Legal Advisors of the Patriarchate tirelessly fought in the courtrooms and willingly paid the necessary amounts and the court fees. A recent example of this is the 2 million Shekels that were paid as a tax by the Patriarchate since the tenant of Petra Hotel by Jaffa Gate had not paid this amount. This was done to save the Patriarchate’s property from its seizure by opaque and corrupt multi-year contracts, which were denounced by the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood in the year 2005.

For the more effective operation of the pastoral mission of the Patriarchate, Your Beatitude has especially provided for the Theological or other studies of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, or young people of our flock, granting the relevant scholarships for them, especially in Greece and in Cyprus. By the appointing of new members of the Holy Synod, Your Beatitude has strengthened the Synodical ordinance of the Patriarchate. And by Your care, the renovation project of the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Sacristy is being promoted, with the funding of a reverend source.

All these encourage and strengthen us, Your Beatitude, both the old and the new Hagiotaphite Fathers, in order to stand by Your side and follow You, and also to fight in the good Hagiotaphite cause, for a dynamic Christian Rum-Orthodox testimony in the Holy Land, which will benefit many people.

Raising my glass to a toast, Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod and of the whole Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, I wish You many happy returns, in health, stability, peace and joy, in governmental power and wisdom from on high, for the praise of our Venerable Patriarchate, of our blessed nation and for the Glory of our Trinitarian God.”

This was followed by the addresses of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, His Excellency Mr Evangelos Vlioras, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, the Dean Priest of Saint James Cathedral Fr Charalambos Bandour and others.

His Beatitude thanked all with the following address:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Christians,

Noble pilgrims

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21).

The Holy Church of Christ in Jerusalem, which was sprouted from the rood of Jesse, and which was chosen by the Lord;“ He hath desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13), celebrates today the completion of fifteen years of the governing ministry of Our mediocrity, since Our establishment on the God-founded throne of Hieromartyr James the Brother of God and first ordained Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This sacred event has a special significance for the testimony of Christ’s truth all over the world by the Church, and for the pastoral accountability of its spiritual shepherds, as Saint Paul notes: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:27-28).

According to the Canon of our Hagiotaphite tradition, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, accompanied by the reverend members of our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, where we rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to our God and Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; “to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

Our fifteen-year enthronement anniversary, celebrated amidst the covid-19 pandemic, should be considered an anniversary of renovation and guarantee of the apostolic succession throughout the centuries, which is followed by every Head of the Church of Jerusalem, having its beginning in the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as Saint John, the Evangelist says: “In the beginning was the Word. The same was at the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

And according to the “Teachings of the Apostles”, “the bishop who is the Head, as honoured by God, leads the clergy and rules over all people” (Teachings of the Apostles, B XXVII).

Hearkening to Saint Paul saying: “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1) and following the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We make every effort to the best of Our abilities, to safeguard Our unadulterated Apostolic tradition and healthy faith, as well as to accommodate the spiritual and material needs of the Christian flock which has been entrusted to Us. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2) Saint Peter orders. Moreover, we strive for the keeping of the biblical testimonies of our faith, namely the All-holy Shrines, which preach the incarnation of God the Word, His Passion on the Cross and His Resurrection.

Needless, again, to say, that the safeguarding of the indelible privileges and sovereign rights of the noble and royal nation of the ‘Rum Orthodox’ on the All-holy Shrines is a sacred duty of Our ab antique mission in the Holy Land. Therefore, we never cease raising our voice towards every direction, political and diplomatic, local and international organizations and governments, in order to make the established by international treaties multi-cultural and multi-religious Status Quo respectable, for both the Biblical Shrines and for the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is an international Shrine in itself, as Prophet Isaiah says: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1).

                Being rooted and grounded in the love and faith of Christ, “my spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Psalm 143:4), working in clear consciousness (2 Tim. 1:3) for the prevention of the nesting schism in the bosom of Christ’s body, which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This, after all, was the mission of the Holy Apostles, who were established in the Church of Jerusalem, the preaching of reconciliation, as this is stated by Saint Paul: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).

                Through this enthronement celebration, We are called not to boast, but rather examine the work of our Patriarchal Office, according to Saint Paul’s order: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4).

                In this ministry, the mission of the martyr’s throne of Saint James the Brother of God, we have as accomplices and companions the reverend and dearest Fathers and brothers Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks, Priests, Hierodeacons and Monks, who are distinguished for their fervent zeal and God-pleasing self-sacrifice.

Let us pray to God and Father of lights and truth along with the psalmist: “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Psalm 17:5), by the intercessions of our Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and by the prayers of our Father among the Saints Nectarios of Pentapolis. May the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ strengthen all of us who serve in the All-holy Shrines and shepherd our pious Christian flock.

                For all these, we wish for all who prayed with Us and honoured Us with their presence in this Enthronement Anniversary, strength from on high, the grace of the Holy Sepulchre, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also our gratitude for those who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, the Representative of the Brotherly Holy Church of Russia, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, who conveyed the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, the Representative of the Holy Church of Romania, Reverend Archimandrite Ioannis, who conveyed the wishes of the Patriarch of Romania Daniel, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Joppa, Reverend Charalambos Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James Cathedral, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the Russian-speaking Community of Ber Sheva, Father Romanos, who conveyed the wishes and love of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Mr Athanasios Abu Aeta, Mr Ode Issa and Nibel Baramsi, and all who participated in this celebration of the Enthronement Anniversary.”

At noon His Beatitude hosted a meal for the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

From Secretariat-GeneralOn Sunday morning, 9/22 November 2020, a Doxology was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the fifteen-year election and Enthronement anniversary of the Holy Primate of the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III.

The Doxology was led by His Beatitude, and along with Him, the Archbishops of the Patriarchate, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Patriarchal Representatives and Hegoumens of the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate and Managers of its parishes, that were able to attend due to covid-19 restrictive measures.

The Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evangelos Vlioras with his wife and child and members of the community in Jerusalem.

After the Doxology the Patriarchal entourage returned to the Patriarchate Headquarters, where Geronda Secretary-General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Consantina was the first to address His Beatitude with the following address:

“Your Beatitude, Father and Master,

The Church of Jerusalem and the inextricably linked to it Hagiotaphite Brotherhood celebrate today a quite important and remarkable event, a joyful and exuberant event. This is the anniversary of the unanimous voting of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the representatives of the flock, for the election of Your Beatitude as the Shepherd of the Church of the Holy Land and Hegoumen of the Order of the Studious, and the consequent ceremony of Your Enthronement and its recognition by all the Orthodox Churches and countries, where our Venerable Patriarchate holds its pastoral mission. This happened in A.D. 2005, after a painful ordeal that shook the foundations of the Church; it shook but did not destroy it, because the One Who founded it in the Holy Land led the Patriarchate back into refreshment.

This event secures the continuation of the unceasing Apostolic succession of the Church of Jerusalem, and the unity of its members for the smooth operation and fulfilment of its divine mission; for this reason, it was festively celebrated – in compromise of course with the covid-19 restrictive measures – at the most precious heirloom of our faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was celebrated with a Doxology to God, as a thanksgiving, because He led us back to refreshment and granted the Church Your Beatitude as its Patriarch and Shepherd. Having thanked God for this, and having prayed for Your health, stability and longevity, we returned to this historic hall of our holy “little house” as the memorable Patriarch Dositheos used to say, in order to wish and congratulate You up close, for all the good works You have accomplished through hardship and toil for our Patriarchate over these last fifteen years.

First of all, we recall that guided by the Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Fathers, You have guided the Hagiotaphite Fathers, Hegoumens of the Shrines and the Holy Monasteries, the clergy and the people to co-operate with the responsible Health Authorities of the governing state for the effective dealing with the fatal epidemic of covid-19 since the beginning of the year. Under this spirit, with the keeping of our Status Quo rights, the Liturgical Services were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. From the Holy Week Services, the Epitaph Service and the All-night Vigil of the Resurrection were held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The others, i.e. Palm Sunday, the Washing of the feet and the Service of Love were held at the Monastic Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, with the participation of the designated Priests and only a few faithful, but without any pilgrims, as no pilgrims have arrived in Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. The former full of pilgrims Holy City has been empty from pilgrims in its streets and pathways ever since. It is worth remembering that despite the pandemic, the Service of the Holy Light was held exactly according to the Status Quo. By special providence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Police Force of Israel, the Holy Light was transferred to Jaffa Gate by an Archbishop, from where it was received by the representatives of all Orthodox countries. The representatives of the Churches received the Holy Light at Ben Gurion airport, where they were secluded inside the landed planes of their countries. With the Patriarchate’s actions, the Holy Light was transferred in the same day to its Communities in Jordan, the Palestinian areas and in Gaza.

For the relief of the financially weak people, due to the restrictive measures against the pandemic, Your Beatitude has ordered the distribution of packages of food by the Patriarchate to the neediest families in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem and in Ramallah and exempted from one year’s rent the tenants of houses and shops that belong to the Patriarchate. The Fatherly and Pastoral support of Your Beatitude during the pandemic was shown to the Holy Monasteries of the Patriarchate with Your visits and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in them, along with Your Sermons, which were broadcast through the internet in the Greek, Arabic, English, Russian and Romanian languages.

Your Beatitude’s attitude was unwavering in the case of claiming and safeguarding the Pilgrimage rights of our Patriarchate. This was made manifest over last year’s Epiphany Feast in Bethlehem, when the Armenian Priests, continuing their decades-long provocative behaviour, prevented us from the procedure of taking the Orthodox Icon of Epiphany down to the Holy Cave. Thanks to the persistence and guidance of Your Beatitude, the Hagiotaphite ministers of Bethlehem and those who came to their aid from Jerusalem, despite the physical violence they endured by the Armenians, managed to put the icon in the Cave, having first received the relevant order by President Abu Mazen. We still need to secure our right for this occasion with a special Presidential decree as well, so that it will not be disputed again in the future. A similar event happened over the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on 14 September 2020, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Armenians tried to prevent us from our right to offer incense in the Altar of Saint Helen’s chapel, as they have also done other times in the past. Finally, we performed our right, due to the persistence of Your Beatitude, who stood for more than one hour at the chapel with the Holy Cross placed on Your head, urging the Armenians to withdraw. This happened in the end, of fear of the Israeli Police force who was present video-filming the episode, at the presence of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Vlioras. These rights of the Orthodox Patriarchate are supported by testimonies written in the pilgrimage codes that we keep, but also in the codes kept by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Franciscans, who supported us in this regard.

Along with the pilgrimage rights, Your Beatitude prioritized also the fortification of the land and building property rights of the Patriarchate, as many times they had been violated, either materially, or by court orders of greedy opportunists. These rights are supported efficiently by the property titles, firmania, veratia, e.t.c., kept in the Patriarchate Archives, for whose better arrangement, Your Beatitude has provided for a new building which is still under construction. For the Archive titles, by Your order and guidance, the Financial Committee and the Legal Advisors of the Patriarchate tirelessly fought in the courtrooms and willingly paid the necessary amounts and the court fees. A recent example of this is the 2 million Shekels that were paid as a tax by the Patriarchate since the tenant of Petra Hotel by Jaffa Gate had not paid this amount. This was done to save the Patriarchate’s property from its seizure by opaque and corrupt multi-year contracts, which were denounced by the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood in the year 2005.

For the more effective operation of the pastoral mission of the Patriarchate, Your Beatitude has especially provided for the Theological or other studies of the Hagiotaphite Fathers, or young people of our flock, granting the relevant scholarships for them, especially in Greece and in Cyprus. By the appointing of new members of the Holy Synod, Your Beatitude has strengthened the Synodical ordinance of the Patriarchate. And by Your care, the renovation project of the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Sacristy is being promoted, with the funding of a reverend source.

All these encourage and strengthen us, Your Beatitude, both the old and the new Hagiotaphite Fathers, in order to stand by Your side and follow You, and also to fight in the good Hagiotaphite cause, for a dynamic Christian Rum-Orthodox testimony in the Holy Land, which will benefit many people.

Raising my glass to a toast, Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod and of the whole Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, I wish You many happy returns, in health, stability, peace and joy, in governmental power and wisdom from on high, for the praise of our Venerable Patriarchate, of our blessed nation and for the Glory of our Trinitarian God.”

This was followed by the addresses of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem, His Excellency Mr Evangelos Vlioras, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, the Dean Priest of Saint James Cathedral Fr Charalambos Bandour and others.

His Beatitude thanked all with the following address:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece, Mr Evangelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Christians,

Noble pilgrims

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21).

The Holy Church of Christ in Jerusalem, which was sprouted from the rood of Jesse, and which was chosen by the Lord;“ He hath desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13), celebrates today the completion of fifteen years of the governing ministry of Our mediocrity, since Our establishment on the God-founded throne of Hieromartyr James the Brother of God and first ordained Hierarch of Jerusalem.

This sacred event has a special significance for the testimony of Christ’s truth all over the world by the Church, and for the pastoral accountability of its spiritual shepherds, as Saint Paul notes: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:27-28).

According to the Canon of our Hagiotaphite tradition, we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, accompanied by the reverend members of our Venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, where we rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to our God and Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; “to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

Our fifteen-year enthronement anniversary, celebrated amidst the covid-19 pandemic, should be considered an anniversary of renovation and guarantee of the apostolic succession throughout the centuries, which is followed by every Head of the Church of Jerusalem, having its beginning in the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as Saint John, the Evangelist says: “In the beginning was the Word. The same was at the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

And according to the “Teachings of the Apostles”, “the bishop who is the Head, as honoured by God, leads the clergy and rules over all people” (Teachings of the Apostles, B XXVII).

Hearkening to Saint Paul saying: “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1) and following the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We make every effort to the best of Our abilities, to safeguard Our unadulterated Apostolic tradition and healthy faith, as well as to accommodate the spiritual and material needs of the Christian flock which has been entrusted to Us. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (1 Peter 5:2) Saint Peter orders. Moreover, we strive for the keeping of the biblical testimonies of our faith, namely the All-holy Shrines, which preach the incarnation of God the Word, His Passion on the Cross and His Resurrection.

Needless, again, to say, that the safeguarding of the indelible privileges and sovereign rights of the noble and royal nation of the ‘Rum Orthodox’ on the All-holy Shrines is a sacred duty of Our ab antique mission in the Holy Land. Therefore, we never cease raising our voice towards every direction, political and diplomatic, local and international organizations and governments, in order to make the established by international treaties multi-cultural and multi-religious Status Quo respectable, for both the Biblical Shrines and for the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is an international Shrine in itself, as Prophet Isaiah says: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62:1).

                Being rooted and grounded in the love and faith of Christ, “my spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Psalm 143:4), working in clear consciousness (2 Tim. 1:3) for the prevention of the nesting schism in the bosom of Christ’s body, which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This, after all, was the mission of the Holy Apostles, who were established in the Church of Jerusalem, the preaching of reconciliation, as this is stated by Saint Paul: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).

                Through this enthronement celebration, We are called not to boast, but rather examine the work of our Patriarchal Office, according to Saint Paul’s order: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4).

                In this ministry, the mission of the martyr’s throne of Saint James the Brother of God, we have as accomplices and companions the reverend and dearest Fathers and brothers Hagiotaphite Archbishops, Hieromonks, Priests, Hierodeacons and Monks, who are distinguished for their fervent zeal and God-pleasing self-sacrifice.

Let us pray to God and Father of lights and truth along with the psalmist: “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not” (Psalm 17:5), by the intercessions of our Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and by the prayers of our Father among the Saints Nectarios of Pentapolis. May the grace of the All-holy and Life-giving Tomb of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ strengthen all of us who serve in the All-holy Shrines and shepherd our pious Christian flock.

                For all these, we wish for all who prayed with Us and honoured Us with their presence in this Enthronement Anniversary, strength from on high, the grace of the Holy Sepulchre, patience, and every blessing from God, expressing also our gratitude for those who addressed Us; Geronda Secretary General, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, who spoke on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod and our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, His Excellency the Consul General of Greece Mr Evangelos Vlioras, the Representative of the Brotherly Holy Church of Russia, Reverend Archimandrite Alexander, who conveyed the wishes of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow Cyril, the Representative of the Holy Church of Romania, Reverend Archimandrite Ioannis, who conveyed the wishes of the Patriarch of Romania Daniel, His Eminence Metropolitan Kyriakos of Nazareth, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Nazareth, His Eminence Archbishop Damascene of Joppa, who spoke on behalf of our flock in Joppa, Reverend Charalambos Bandour, who spoke on behalf of Saint James Cathedral, His Eminence Archbishop Aristovoulos of Madaba, who spoke on behalf of the Russian-speaking Community of Ber Sheva, Father Romanos, who conveyed the wishes and love of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Mr Athanasios Abu Aeta, Mr Ode Issa and Nibel Baramsi, and all who participated in this celebration of the Enthronement Anniversary.”

At noon His Beatitude hosted a meal for the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood.

From Secretariat-General




THE FEAST OF THE NATIONAL ANNIVERSARY OF OCTOBER 28, 1940 AT THE PATRIARCHATE

On Wednesday, October 15 / 28, 2020, the Patriarchate celebrated the National Anniversary of October 28, 1940.

On this Feast the whole Church and that of Jerusalem commemorate our nation’s sufferings; persecutions, exile, group executions and starvation, caused by the German and Italian atrocities, during their occupation in our country, in World War II (1940-1944). The Church prays for the repose of the souls of the fighters who devoted their lives in the defence of their country, and thanks God and the Most Holy Theotokos for their help in our regaining the precious gift of freedom.

This event was celebrated at the Catholicon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a Doxology led by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, with co-celebrants their Eminences the Archbishops of the Throne and Hagiotaphite Hieromonks. The chanting was delivered by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos, as the Service was attended by the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evaggelos Vlioras and members of the Greek Community.

The Service of Doxology was followed by the return at the Patriarchate Headquarters where His Beatitude addressed those present as follows:

“Your Excellency Consul General of Greece Mr Evaggelos Vlioras,

Reverend Fathers and Brothers,

Beloved Brethren in Christ

The great epic of 1940 is portrayed on today’s anniversary of the “No” of 28th October, which was the answer to the provoking arrogance of the Fascist and Nazi forces of the German-Italian axis.

The 1940 “No” of Greece is a landmark of self-sacrifice for the defence of moral values, and love for the country, to safeguard the national independence and our territorial integrity. And this is so, because, undeniably, the heroic resistance against Hitler’s armed forces was the victory of the spirit over material things, of freedom over slavery, of right against the unrighteousness of the modern civilization, of the barbarity, and finally, of Christ’s light over the darkness of the devil, as Saint Paul wisely phrases: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

World War II and its consequences showed that the contemporary technologically advanced man “did not want to come to reason”, meaning that he did not try to set himself free from his primitive beastly behaviour.  “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

And we say this because the super-human fighting spirit of the Greeks against the axis was inspired by the faith in the Crucified and Resurrected Christ.  Rightly it was then said that the 28th October epic was the miracle of the faith in God.

Our venerable Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, honouring, as it should, this historic event of “1940 No” and wholeheartedly participating in this victorious commemoration of freedom and of the steadfast resistance against the obnoxious occupational forces of Nazism, went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and rendered a thanksgiving Doxology to the Trinitarian God, despite the restrictive measures of the Corona Virus plague.

Moreover, we prayed for the eternal repose of the souls of all our fathers and brothers who fought gloriously and suffered a martyr’s death for their faith and country and for freedom.

Our Holy Church of Jerusalem, replying to the various challenges of the world and of our tested region of the Middle East, projects October 28 as an example of inspiration and hope, as Saint Paul’s advice says: “ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”(Galatians 5:1).

For all these, let us raise our glasses to a toast and exclaim:

Long live the 28th October 1940!

Long live the “NO”!

Long live Greece!

Long live the noble nation of the Rum Orthodox!

Long live our Hagiotaphite Brotherhood!”

His Beatitude’s address was followed by that of the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem Mr Evaggelos Vlioras, as per below:  

“Your Beatitude,

Most Reverend Archbishops,

Reverend Fathers,

Dear Children,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

National anniversaries are milestones, occasions for reflection, which in the course of time bring back to our minds the events that have forged the collective historical memory of Greeks everywhere.

In every historical period, there is a pole, a historical event that marks it, and it becomes a point of reference for all of us later. The struggle of 1940 is this landmark for the modern history of Hellenism, a central point of reference and a symbol for the whole Nation.

Therefore, at that time, as in any difficult time, there were many who surpassed themselves, “Or who came out of their skin”, to use the phrase of Iakovos Kampanellis, and showed heroism, beyond what we call “duty”. Ordinary, everyday people, who suddenly found themselves in the forefront of history, without asking to become heroes and yet received a “glorifying myrtle” responding, every single one of them, to the call, without fear, without hesitation, marking history and life in Greece and in Hellenism in general.

If life is measured more by the burning heart than by the duration, if the candle that shines brighter lasts the least, then we can all be proud of the mature life of those who sacrificed themselves in the icy mountains of Epirus, in the Fortresses of Macedonia, in the waters of the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, in the Middle East and throughout the resistance to the triple occupation of our country by the forces of darkness.

The Battle of Greece, which lasted a total of 216 days from the NO on October 28 until the fall of Crete on June 1, 1941, caused worldwide sensation and admiration, spreading hope and making the hearts of the peoples of occupied Europe, who lived the night of the occupation, to take courage. The magnitude of the sacrifice of the Greeks during World War II is easily understood if we consider that Greece lost almost 10% of its population of 7.5 million.

It is, therefore, a special honour for the Consul General of Greece to address the Hellenism of the Holy Land and especially the young people on this special day of remembrance and pride.

Eighty years after this historic day we remember and pay tribute to the heroic heirs of the Homeland, to all those who fought the relentless beast of fascism and Nazism, to all those who made the supreme sacrifice, on the battlefields or in front of the firing squad, so that we can live free today.

To all those who with feelings of patriotism and self-denial, according to the play writer, “pushed the time for good towards peace and freedom. A freedom that seemed so wide to them”.

We pay tribute to both the mothers and wives who endured while waiting, to the children who were orphaned or lost due to hunger and misery.

The Greek NO clearly and unequivocally demonstrated the deep historical conscience of the Greeks that dictated their refusal to forget their history and to live in compromise and submission.

In this national ordeal, the Sun of Righteousness did not forget Greece.

In this historical moment, as in any other nationally difficult circumstance, the dynamic participation of Hellenism anywhere in the world was valuable, for which Greece is proud and grateful.

The impact of the 1940 Struggle was shocking on Holy Land as well. More than 40 Greeks from Jerusalem voluntarily joined the Greek Armed Forces while two of them gave their lives for Greece.

The Sailor Electrician Anestis Zografos was lost in the sinking of the Katsoni Submarine in Skiathos on September 14, 1943, while the Sailor Engineer Emmanuel Mykonos was killed during the impact of a missile of the Adria Destroyer in Kalymnos on October 22, 1943. The bones of the latter as well as 20 of his other comrades-in-arms, which were buried in a makeshift grave in Turkey, were transported to Greece in 1947 and deposited in the ossuary of the Monument to the Fallen of our Navy.

Today, as then, the venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, with their long and multifaceted contribution to the Holy Land and the highest pastoral work, remain, as a key point of reference, guardian of the moral and spiritual values ​​of our Orthodox faith.

Our Patriarchate of Jerusalem testifies to the timelessness of the dynamic presence of the Greek and Orthodox tradition in the Middle East. Its high mind and struggles, under adverse conditions, until today, are for all of us an invaluable national capital but also a source of inspiration and encouragement.

For all of us, the national anniversary messages are only useful if they guide our steps today.

Especially nowadays, Greece is called upon to face a series of challenges to our national integrity, sovereignty and sovereign rights from Evros to the ends of the Aegean, to our land and sea borders and to our sea zones. The Armed Forces give every day the answer that befits modern arrogance, on land, sea and air.

Let me assure you that the common meaning we all derive from the NO of October 28, 1940, strengthens the strong will of the Greeks to maintain the freedom, independence and integrity of the homeland, knowing full well that the price of freedom is always high, and that our country is blessed because there are always those who will willingly pay this price.

With these thoughts I call on all of us to exclaim:

Long live the 28th of October 1940!

Long live the Nation of the Greeks!”

This was followed by the Arabic translation of His Beatitude’s address, by the Patriarchate’s Representative in the Arabic M.M. Father Issa Mousleh, and finally, of the address of the Managing Director of the Patriarchal School of Zion, Elder Dragoman Archimandrite Mattheos, as per below:

“Today we celebrate and recall in our memory one of the most beautiful, most brilliant, and most glorious moments of the Greek Nation. The thought of all of us today turns with sacred emotion, justified pride and infinite admiration to the great day of October 28, 1940. On that day, 80 years ago, the cannon sounded in the mountains of Northern Epirus and the whole of Greece paid its duty to the Homeland, a debt that is not transferable and everyone repays it by himself alone.

The Greek nation did not kneel in fear at that time. But like every time in history, it stood upright on its saddle and proved in the best way its love for the Homeland, a love without limits, since it puts the universality of its existence in the service of the Homeland. A love that reaches the contempt of death and the emergence of heroism that the modern world had not seen until then. And for this reason, the world looked closely and expressed its admiration in amazement, watching the triumphs of a small nation against a great power. And this is because everyone knew and knows that war, wants courage, it wants chests and arms, hearts that can bear the pain and endure the calamity. War wants strong people, who can rebuild from the beginning, everything that it [war] tore down and ruined in front of them. War wants determination, on the part of the fighters, in order to turn it into a holocaust, so that they can sustain the liberty of all things they consider sacred and holy.

For as the poet says:

Here no one fears death but everyone longs to hear his name, riding on a horse, leaving on foot, here there is no place, neither for death nor for the fear of entering the tomb (Free translation, Poem by C. Palamas: The country that does not die).

October 28, 1940, is a new milestone in the history of our long-suffering Homeland, our thrice-glorious Greece. On that day, a new period of heroism and sacrifice of the Greek race began, for the preservation of its freedom and independence. With the protection of our Most Gracious Theotokos, the Greeks climbed like the eagles on the snow-covered, steep and inaccessible mountain peaks of northern Epirus, leaving friends and enemies open-mouthed.

Brilliant glory then crowned our Homeland, which despite the difficulties, continues to cover Greece with laurels.

Today, “the times are not waiting; we must take action”. Clouds are gathering over our Homeland and some, just like the beasts of the Book of Revelation, have opened their mouths and gnash their teeth, wanting to frighten this small country by showing their great power; but they forgot or did not understand, that the Greeks, with their wonderful achievements, proved that in the fight for freedom, for the defence of altars and hearths, it is not the irons and the numbers that win, but the heart and the courage.

And as the poet says about the indestructible sprout of the Greeks:

I shall not be lost in the depths of the earth, I only stop for a while, I come back to life and make the nations rise! (Free translation, Poem by C. Palamas, Digenis and Charon).

Let us turn our thoughts at this time to all those who fought then, and sacrificed their lives for the freedom and the benefit of the Homeland, and offer them, as a minimum tribute, our admiration and gratitude, and assure them, that in the difficult times of our Homeland, their example will guide us and strengthen our will, so that we may become worthy successors of the bright and glorious struggles of the children of 1940 “.

The celebration was sealed with patriotic songs and our National Anthem by the Patriarchal School of Zion Students.

From Secretariat-General




HIS HOLINESS THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW VISITS THE METOCHION OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE IN NEOCHORION

On Friday, October 10/23, 2020, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated for the Feast of the Holy Apostle James the Brother of God and first Hierarch of Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Church of Jerusalem, at the Metochion of the Holy Sepulchre in Neochorion of Βosporus. The Liturgy was attended by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Who addressed our Representative in Constantinople Most Reverend Archbishop Nectarios of Anthedona and the congregation as follows:

Your Eminence, Archbishop Nectarios of Anthedona, Representative of the Holy Sepulchre in the City of Constantine,

Most Reverend Brethren,

Your Excellencies Archons,

Beloved Children in Christ,

We are gathered in this historic Metochion of the Holy Sepulchre in joy and contrition, in order to celebrate with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs the commemoration of Apostle James the Brother of God, one of the primary persons of the ancient Church, the genuine bearer and exponent of the sacred consignment of the Lord, the First Hierarch of the Church of Jerusalem and its patron Saint. Along with our reverent entourage, We came to the Church of the Metochion of Jerusalem in Neochorio, which is dedicated to the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy Bearer, just like two other Churches-Metochia of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Halki and in Phanar, so that we may proclaim “the bond of love” between the Holy Great Church of Christ and the venerable Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which holds this celebration of the Throne today, and to express our feelings of love and honour to its Holy Primate, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos.

The Patriarchates of Constantinople and Jerusalem have a long-term tradition of coexistence, cooperation and solidarity, which have produced good fruit for the whole of Orthodoxy and for the protection of the Status Quo in the Holy Land. The All-holy shrines and the holy places where the redeeming news of salvation was heard, and God the Word was made incarnate, the places where the immaculate feet of our Lord Jesus Christ walked, and His words were heard, where He worked the miracles of faith, where the glory of the Lord was revealed in Transfiguration, the Passion and the Resurrection were witnessed, along with the miraculous appearances, the Ascension of the Saviour and the crown of festivities, Pentecost, happened, all these, and “many other things Jesus did” which, as Saint John the Evangelist writes “if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25), are always in our mind and heart.

We ceaselessly pray to the Founder of the Church, to strengthen His Beatitude our Brother Theophilos and the blessed Hagiotaphite Brotherhood, in the struggle for the protection of the All-holy monuments and shrines. We were expecting the visit of His Beatitude at the centre of Orthodoxy which was scheduled for the beginning of the Church Year, on September 1, 2020, and was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We wait for the visit of the Holy Brother, in a face-to-face meeting, to co-celebrate the Divine Liturgy and discuss the matters of Orthodoxy related to its unity and witness in the contemporary world.

The Church is “God’s answer to the expectation of the world”. It is “the new world and the new paradise”. Being alive “in the world” it bears witness for the truth “that is not of this world”, carrying the Cross of Christ, experiencing and preaching His Resurrection which is the joy of the world. It also foretells and depicts “the common resurrection”, “the unwaning, heirless and eternal day”, in the course toward the eternal Kingdom of God, “the new world” (2 Cor. 5:17), where “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away”(Revelation 21:4), but there will be a joy that is complete, unspeakable and glorified. To this Church, the place and the way of the salvation of man and of the world, we owe everything, in it we minister its Founder and Head, the Giver of every good thing, being ministered in all things by the unspeakable Divine Philanthropy.

Most Reverend brother, Archbishop of Anthedona,

We praise the good-fruit-bearing ministry for the full duration of your ecclesiastical ministry here, the many toils, your tireless and productive work for the preservation of your Metochia, your sacrificial witness and wise care for the ecclesiastical matters at all times. Thanking you for the kind invitation of Our Mediocrity to participate in the Service in this Metochion of Bosporus, We wish you health and strength to continue your good works. We also congratulate all those who support this holy foundation, with their leader, the Cross-bearer of the Holy Sepulchre and Our dearest Officion-bearer, Mr Panteleimon Vigan.

With these thoughts, and in a festive frame of mind, we express the wishes of Our Mediocrity to His Beatitude, the Head of the Church of Jerusalem, and to all the Hagiotaphite Brotherhood for this Feast of the Throne, praying to the Almighty, Omniscient and Most Generous God, that by the intercessions of the Holy Apostle James the Brother of God and of the Holy Glorious Great Martyr George the Trophy Bearer, He may protect and strengthen the brotherly Church of Jerusalem and grant to its pious clergy and people every kind of heavenly blessing.

Many happy returns to all of you!”

From Secretariat-General




THE LAMENTATIONS OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS AT THE PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM

On Thursday morning, August 14/27, 2020, Fore-feast of the Dormition, the Service of the Lamentations was held at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

This ceremony in honour of Theotokos is a part of the Status Quo of the Church of Jerusalem.

For this ceremony, the Hagiotaphite entourage, led by its Hegoumen His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, marched from the Patriarchate Headquarters down Via Dolorosa with short stops at the Holy Monasteries of St. Charalambos, Panagia Sayda Naya, Praetorion, The Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna and St. Stephen and arrived at the Hegoumeneion of Gethsemane.

Going down the stairs to the courtyard of the Church of the Dormition of Theotokos Mary, His Beatitude was received by the Hegoumen His Eminence Archbishop Dorotheos of Avela and the Priests in their liturgical vestments with the co-celebrants their Eminences the Archbishops; Theophanes of Gerassa, Aristarchos of Constantina, Isidoros of Hierapolis and Philoumenos of Pella, at the chanting of Hierodeacon Simeon and Mr Vasilios Gotsopoulos, He entered the Church and having given the blessing, He venerated the Tomb of Theotokos and put on His Patriarchal liturgical vestments. The Archbishops put on omoforion and epitrahilion and the Priests felonion.

Once everybody was ready the Priests took the Icon of the Body of the Dormition of Theotokos on the Epitaph and placed it in the centre of the Church.

The three stasis of the Lamentations were chanted. After the Lamentations the Sermon by His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina followed as per below;

“Your Beatitude Father and Master,

Your Excellency Consul General of Greece,

Most Reverend Chorea of Hierarchs,

Reverend Fathers and noble pilgrims,

During the Fifteen days of the Dormition fast the attention of the memory, the life and all activity of the Church are centred primarily and especially to the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of our God.

From the first day of August, there is a gradual increase of the supplications and all kinds of prayers dedicated to Her, who was chosen by God and became the vessel that held the Creator, contained the uncontainable, conceived by the Holy Spirit and bore as man our Lord Jesus Christ.

All events of honour, respect and reverence for the Most Holy Theotokos reach their climax on 15th of August, which has been set by the Church as the day of the commemoration of Her Dormition.

Celebrating the Fore-feast of the Dormition today, and the main feast tomorrow, we commemorate and recall the whole mission of the Most Holy Theotokos to us men. We commemorate that She accepted to lend flesh from Her flesh to the Word of God Who is without flesh. She conceived the Son of God through the Holy Spirit, became pregnant, went through labour and bore Him in the flesh, swaddled Him, breastfed Him, saw the Wise Men and the Shepherds offering gifts and worshipping Him at the humble Cave in Bethlehem, heard the hymns of the Angels in the heavens chanting “Glory to God in the Highest”, “kept all these words in her heart”(Luke 2:19) and handed all these over to the Evangelists and Apostles and they to the Church in turn. Theotokos led our Lord to circumcision and His naming on the eight-day since His Nativity in the flesh, and to His Entrance and the fortieth-day prayers at the Temple of Solomon, where Simeon the God-receiver held Him in his arms, and she heard in surprise the words “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace”(Luke 2:29) and “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also”(Luke 2:35). Moreover, She held Him in her arms fleeing from Herod’s fury to Egypt and brought Him back to Nazareth again, where they dwelled and from which He was called Nazarene. She followed and watched Him and as a Mother gave Him all He needed in His childhood and youth, when “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man”(Luke 2:52).

Having witnessed all these, and the thing that was beyond any human logic, His conception and bearing without the consummation of conception with a man’s participation, it was natural to say to the servants of the wedding in Cana “Do whatever He tells you to do”(John 2:5). She followed and served Him along with the women who were following Him from Galilee, and “ministered unto him of their substance” (Luke 8:3). She was a witness of the signs and miracles of comfort and healing of the sick, felt the joy for these and the sorrow of the ungrateful condemnation and of the vision of Her beloved Son pierced with the nails of the Cross. She was the first among the Myrrh-bearing Women at the Deposition and the burial, but also at the joy of the Resurrection and at His other appearances after the Resurrection. She experienced the sorrowful-joy of the Ascension and the joy of the sending down of the Holy Spirit the Comforter to Her and to the Apostles by Her Son.

For this mission of Hers, which is beyond any human logic and marvellous, for the unique event which happened once and for all, the faith, the devotion, the love, the complete consistency to Her promise to the Angel at the Annunciation “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”(Luke 1:38), the Church throughout the centuries, honours and magnifies Her, as She foretold at her meeting with her relative Elizabeth “behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed”(Luke 1:48), accepts Her natural death, and burial in this village of Gethsemane, but also Her translation (metastasis) by Her Son in both soul and body into heaven before the common Resurrection, and Her presence as a Queen at His Right Hand, “arrayed in a vesture of inwoven gold, adorned in varied colours”(Psalm 44: 8), being the first among the members of the triumphant Church, ready to hear the supplications of those who revered Her, to help, support, heal the illnesses, overcome difficulties and temptations, and most of all to set an example with Her Most Holy fife for us.

For Her excessive goodness and love, the Church of Jerusalem, the land where She lived and which She sanctified, honours Her, as it should today, with this Service of the Lamentations around Her Tomb, under the lead of His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, and prays to Her to intercede for the unity in Christ of the Orthodox Churches, for the peace and good state of the whole world and of the Middle East, for the cessation of the brutal crimes of violence against innocent people and of the existing wars around the globe, for the rescue and treatment of shipwrecked refugees, for the help of the addicted to drugs youth, for the unity of the divided families and for the help of all of us who honour Her today at Her Most Sacred and Life-giving Tomb, so that by Her help we may continually convey a message of reconciliation and love to the world, and a witness of the Christian Orthodox life, to strengthen, comfort, sustain and guide to salvation the fulness of the Church and give Glory to our Trinitarian God. So be it.”

This was followed by Eulogitaria, Praises, Doxology, the procession of the Epitaph to the top of the staircase of the Church and the prayer.

Finally, the icon was placed behind the Tomb of Theotokos under the chanting of the Dormition hymns and a large crowd of faithful approached to venerate it, despite the COVID-19.

After the Service, the Hegoumen His Eminence Archbishop Dorotheos of Avela offered a reception at the Hegoumeneion.

From Secretariat-General