The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem
To understand the about the Patriarchate in Jerusalem, we need to trace the roots of the first Christians during the years of the apostles after Jesus had died and resurrected. The Church and the Episcopacy of Jerusalem was and is the “Mother of all Churches” even today. It symbolizes the unity of Christians all over the world.
The history of the patriarchate is wreaked with so many turmoil and troubles which were evident from the persecutions that the early Christians faced. However, there were still many Christian faithful who made big sacrifices despite the imminent sufferings and went ahead to establish the vested right of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem.
History of the Patriarchate
52 AD – This is the year when the first Apostolic Council in Jerusalem takes place. The council had the intentions of establishing a monastery so that Christianity would be swept away as it was greatly threatened.
70 AD – Roman emperor Titus leads his troops to invade Jerusalem and they demolish the Jewish temple. This forces the panicked Christians to flee to Pella in the east bank of River Jordan. The whole of Jerusalem is destroyed too and left in ruins.
135 AD – A more considerate Roman emperor Hadrian undertakes the task of rebuilding Jerusalem which would also become part of the Roman Empire. He renames it Aelia Capitolina and invited the exiled Christians to come back to the city. However, the Jewish were not allowed back. By this time Christianity had gained more popularity and spread all over Palestine, thus creating numerous Christian communities and episcopacies. However all these churches are under another patriarchate in Caesaria.
232- 337 AD – This was the era of emperor Constantine the Great who together with his mother St. Helena undertake to building churches all over Palestine; this helped Jerusalem Patriarchate to gain its previous glory. This kindles a war between the patriarchate in Caesaria and Jerusalem as to whom should have supremacy over the churches.
451 AD – A fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon recognizes the sublimity of Jerusalem as opposed to Caesaria and thus officially grants Jerusalem the status of Patriarchate with jurisdiction over Palestine and the east banks of River Jordan.
637 AD – By this time Jerusalem had been conquered by the Arabs and they go ahead to restrict the activities of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.
1099 AD – crusaders conquer the Holy lands and appoint their own patriarch, but however, they were unable to abolish the Greek orthodox patriarchate.
1187 AD – The crusaders are evicted and the Greek orthodox patriarch who had fled to Constantinople for safety reason after the crusaders attacked is restored in his throne. The crusaders flee to Akko.
13th-15th Century – The Mamluks invade and since they have a lot of hatred for Christianity, they try to destroy anything Christian including the churches and monasteries. During the 13th century, the Armenian Patriarchate is established. In the 14th century Franciscan monks together with other monophysites like Copts, Ethiopians and Syrians arrive in Jerusalem and claim the rights over the pilgrimages.
1517 AD – the Ottomans conquer the Holy Land and there is a struggle to salvage the patriarchate.
1856 AD – There is hope for the pilgrimages after a status quo is passed in the Paris council.
Since then some normalcy started with the reformation of the Patriarchate: Christian worldwide start to strengthen the patriarchate by making donations to buy land and build churches and monasteries as well as restoring the ruined pilgrimages thus establishing the vital basis for patriarchate sustenance.