Jerusalem, Patriarchate of

views updated


Upon the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 a.d., Caesarea of Palestine became the capital of the civil province and the ecclesiastical center for Palestine with Jerusalem as a suffragan see. At the end of the fourth century, however, the bishops of Jerusalem began to assert their authority and desire for autonomy. At the Council of chalcedon (451) Bishop Juvenal obtained autonomy and jurisdiction over 58 bishoprics that formerly belonged to the Patriarchate of Antioch. Thus the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was given fifth place of honor after Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch.

From the Fourth to the End of the 12th Century. Under the Byzantine emperors, Palestine enjoyed a period of prosperity from the fourth to the seventh century. The Holy Places were covered with magnificent basilicas and chapels. Pilgrims from the Christian world flocked to this land, and the desert of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea became a thebaïd of monasteries. Palestinian monasticism, together with the theology based on Origen's celebrated school of Caesarea, became renowned.

The Islamic Persians invaded Palestine in 614, and in 637 the Arabs destroyed the shrines and oppressed the Christians, coercing many to embrace Islam. With the conquest of the Holy Land by the Crusaders in 1099 (see crusades) and the establishment of a Latin kingdom in Jerusalem (10991187) liberty was returned to the Christians, but the Byzantines were subjected to a Latin hierarchy. The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem took residence in Constantinople, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople imposed his jurisdiction on the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. When Constantinople and Rome excommunicated each other in the schism of 1054, the patriarch of Jerusalem, residing under the roof of the Ecumenical Patriarch, supported him in his dispute with the papal legates.

From the End of the 12th Century to 1965. The Latin kingdom in Jerusalem dissolved in 1187, and the Orthodox Patriarchs gradually returned to their ancient patriarchal see from their exile in Constantinople. The struggle that ensued for the return of the Holy Places to the Jerusalem patriarch's authority lasted until the 19th century. The Greek Orthodox obtained control of the major portion of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, half of Mt. Calvary, the main upper portion of the Basilica of the Nativity at Bethlehem, and the Tomb of Our Lady at Gethsemane.

A temporary reunion was effected between the patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome following the Council of florence (1439), but lacking support among the faithful, did not survive long. An Eastern Catholic church never developed in the Jerusalem patriarchate. Melkite Catholics from Syria and Lebanon moved into this patriarchate, and in 1838 the Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, maximos iii mazlŪm, was given the title of Patriarch of Jerusalem and Alexandria with jurisdiction over all Melkite Catholics residing in these two patriarchates.

The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem governs the patriarchate from Jerusalem with the members of his Holy Synod. The Melkite Catholic Patriarch also holds the title of Patriarch of Jerusalem (his formal title is "Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem"). Besides the Greek Orthodox and Melkite Catholic patriarchs, there is also a Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Latin patriarchate was established in the Holy Land in 1099, when the Latin

Crusaders set up a kingdom under King Baldwin. It fell into long disuse, but was restored in 1847 to administer to the Latin Catholics, mostly of foreign background, found in the Holy Lands. The Latin patriarch resides in Jerusalem.

Bibliography: d. attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, 2 v. (rev. ed. Milwaukee 196162). j. w. parkes, A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times (New York 1949). r. roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, 6th ed (Rome 1999).

[g. a. maloney/eds.]

About this article

Jerusalem, Patriarchate of

Updated About content Print Article