History of the Church of Jerusalem


The First Church

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem, one of the greatest custodians of the Orthodox Church in the East, maintains undiminished the international interest from the time of its foundation until to day. Almost its entire history concerns the continuous struggles of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre for the protection and preservation of the sacred shrines. This struggle reflects the heroic efforts of the guardians – monks for the preservation of the Greek identity and of the Orthodox tradition of the Patriarchate. This happens because the sacred shrines, starting with the All Holy Tomb, were a field of unceasing struggle between the Orthodox Christians and at times the heterodox conquerors, but also between Christians of other confessions.
The first Christian Church was founded in 33AD in Jerusalem immediately following the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. According to the text of the Acts of the Apostles, the Lord appeared bodily to His disciples, after His passion, being visible to them for forty days, strengthening their faith and preaching to them about the Kingdom of God, while at the same time He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit (Act 1:3-4). His disciples kept the command of Christ, remaining and continually waiting His Ascension in Jerusalem waited together (Acts 1:12-14), in the attic of the house of Sion, having already elected Matthias as the twelfth Apostle (Acts 1: 15-26). After the event of Pentecost, during which the descent of the Holy Spirit had occurred, and many among the audience of the Apostle Peter converted to Christianity, the faith in Christ was consolidated and the newly catechized together with the Apostles formed the First Church of Jerusalem.

This Church despite the persecutions of the apostles and the internal strife between the Hellenists and the Jewish Christians gradually grew larger and in a short time was recognized by all the Christians as the Mother of all the Churches. The founding principles of the newly established Church of Jerusalem were set by the disciples of the Lord, sanctified by the blood of multitudes of known and unknown martyrs and were preserved by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate as a sacred heritage to this day. It is the earliest and unique Apostolic Patriarchate which with its See in the holy City of Jerusalem, represents the continuous and uninterrupted history of the Church as a natural continuation of the first Church that Christ Himself had founded.

The first elected Bishop the Church of Jerusalem was James the Brother of Christ (+62) who shouldered the pastoral care of the whole Christian community. He himself struggled personally for the internal organization of the Church and proved a counseling leader of the whole ecclesiastic life from the first days of the dissemination and prevalence of Christianity.

Specifically he defined the ecclesiastic Order, he provided for the divine worship and composed according to tradition the text of the first divine Liturgy, which were adopted by the other sibling Churches form Jerusalem. Finally regarding the issue of the relationship of the Law of the Old Testament with the Holy Gospel, namely the disagreements between Jewish Christians and Ethnic (Hellenist) Christians, he provided the solution as president of the Apostolic Synod and emerged as the head exarch among the Apostles and leader of the hierarchs. For his major contribution for the dissemination and consolidation of the new religion, the Sadducees together with the Scribes and the Pharisees condemned him to a martyric death by stoning.

It was since that period that Christianity began to acquire a universal character, having the separation of Judaism from Christianity first occur as well as of the Mosaic Law from the Word of the Holy Gospel. Towards this development an important role played the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD by the Roman general Titus, as well as the dramatic events that followed the destruction of the Jewish Temple.

It is self understood that during that period of the destructive upheavals and the roman atrocities, the Church of Jerusalem was going through a time of sorrow and agony. Moreover, before the destruction of the Holy City, the Christians, cognizant of the teacher Christ's commandment (Luke 21:20) departed from Jerusalem and fled under divine guidance, to Pella of Decapolis which was built on the eastern bank of the river Jordan. This city bore the name of the ancient capital of Macedonia and was populated by Greeks, close to whom the persecuted Christians sought and received refuge and protection. It seems that the Christians managed to escape before the start of the siege of Jerusalem, because the mob of enraged rebels who remained would murder anyone who wished to save himself by fleeing. In fact after the martyric death of James and within the climate of these upheavals, the Church of Jerusalem elected as her Bishop the famous in the Lord and later martyr, Symeon of Klopa or Simona (70-!07). The Bishopric seat was located far from the Holy City. So, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the disappearance of its Temple, the pioneering steps for a long period did not belong to the Jewish Capital, but in different and newly founded Christian centres.

The Christian Church continued to be in exile and far from the deserted Capital, while it was persecuted as much by the Romans as by the intransigent Jews who were causing internal dissentions in the Church. This was happening because those Christians who came from them (Jews), after the Apostolic Synod and the events that followed, insisted in preserving the Mosaic Law. However, by a lucky coincidence the cleansing of the extremist Judaic elements resulted in the first Church to consist of Greeks or at least by Hellenist residents of Palestine, thus receiving a Greek identity.

As it shown from the rescued historical testimonies, immediately after the departure of the Roman armies, the Christians returned in the previously glorious city of David and lived in its ruins. As a community in fact they sought and settled in that small quarter on the hill of Sion, which during the siege had escaped the general destruction and in which there was a small church, the Church of God. The Church became the religious centre of the Christians who immediately after their return from the Hellenistic Pella, re-organized the Christian community in Jerusalem. In the mean time, Symeon, who was the Bishop of Jerusalem during the rule of Trianon (98-117), he was accused for his apostolic zeal by the heretic Jews to the Consul Atticus, who arrested him and after terrible torture, condemned him to a crucifixional death. Thus, this holy Bishop at the age of 120 years sealed with his martyric blood the history of the Church of Jerusalem and predetermined her martyric course henceforth.

The Bishops following Symeon either due to persecutions or for other reasons did not govern the Church for extended periods of time. According to the testimonies of the historian Eusebios and from other information, Saint Symeon was succeeded by Justus 1 st (107-111).From then until 134 on the Episcopal throne of the Church ascended twelve more Bishops, who were: Zaccheus, Tobias, Benjamen 1 st , John 1 st , Matthias 1 st , Philip, Seneca, Justus 2 nd , Leuis, Ephraim, Joseph 1 st , and Judas, who all served as bishops at Pella and of whom there is no special information. During this period the local Church was being disturbed externally by the Judaic Christians. Against them the “Justification of the True Faith” was written by Ariston from Pella (135-175) the first Greek author after the apostles and Saint James, who wrote on the history of the Church of Jerusalem and was the first justifier of Christianity against the Jews. As a result of these events the Church of Jerusalem was mainly composed of Greeks who flocked from Pella and other parts of Palestine. The Christians in fact in order to erase every Judaic element, which also riled the Roman authority, would elect henceforth Bishops from ethnics, mainly Greeks.

Despite the sad events that intervened following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, the Holy Places were not forgotten by the Christians. On the contrary, they remained alive in their memory, they would visit them and surround them with respect and love until the time of emperor Adrian (117-138). Following the repression of the well known revolt of the Jews under their leader Bar Kohmba in 135 and the restoration of Jerusalem, Adrian by his edict and on pain of death, forbade the Jews to approach the Holy City. On her ruins he founded a new city, Aelia Capitolina. In fact to obstruct the settlement of Christians in the Holy Places, he ordered that they be covered with earth and built on the All Holy Tomb a statue of Zeus and on Golgotha a statue of Aphrodite. This way the holy shrines avoided destruction and were preserved in their original state. Jerusalem in her new state not only did not differ from the other Roman colonies, but it appeared inferior to them. With time in fact she lost her former glory and fell into obscurity while gradually the rise in superiority of Caesaria had began.

Most probably it was during this time the last of Hellenic origin Christians who had fled to Pella prior to the destruction of the City, returned to Jerusalem. They settled in Aelia and together with the rest of the Christians they formed a cluster of Christian communities. This resulted in the Church of Jerusalem consisting of Greeks from Pella and elsewhere, and “this Church is retained in the same spot by the nations”. In fact during the disturbed period of Adrian who was rather favourably predisposed towards the Christians, the Episcopal throne was occupied by Markos (134) the first Christian Greek of Aelia. The goodwill of the emperor towards the Greek Christians of Aelia coincided with the acceptance of the justifications for Christianity by the Bishop of Athens Kodratos and of the Athenian philosopher Aristedis.

After her destruction by the Roman armies, Jerusalem was demoted to a small and insignificant large village, built on the ruins of her glorious past and her Bishopric was thus lacking in primacy and her early magnificence. Despite all this, Christianity during the period of settlement of the Jerusalemites, had spread throughout the whole of Palestine, while numerous Christian communities and important Bishoprics were created in different Greek urban centres such as : Caesaria of the Mediterranean, Ptolemaida, Joppe, Gaza, Bethlehem, Caesaria of Philipou, Scithiopolis, Neapolis, Neapolis, Pella, Gerasa, Vostra, Petra –and else where. Gradually, while Judaism was significantly confined, Christianity held and spread fast. This resulted in the development and strengthening of Hellenism throughout Palestine, so that the main element of the population of Palestine after the destruction of Jerusalem, the colonizing by Greeks from the time of Great Alexander had resumed. The soon restituted Church of Jerusalem was composed by the Greeks from the Church of Pella.

During this period begins a new era in the history of the Church of Jerusalem and again full of tests and sorrows. The holy City as a small and insignificant large village was subject politically and administratively to Caesaria, seat of the ruler of Palestine. Also, the primacy and the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of all the Bishoprics of the Holy Lands were borne by the Metropolis of Caesaria. Due to this the Bishop of Jerusalem was under the Bishop of Caesaria, who was metropolitan of all the Bishoprics of Palestine. In the mean time Adrian had started to persecute not only the Jews but also the Christians. He in fact ordered that anything reminding of Judaism and of Christianity should disappear from Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

After Markos, Bishop of Jerusalem, Cassianos was elected, having been succeeded by twenty Bishops to the throne of the Lord's brother, until the time of Great Constantine. Progressively the Bishop of Aelia enjoyed special honour by the rest of the Bishops. He sometimes even presided in honour, in the regional synods of the Bishops of Palestine. To this end contributed the fact that to the Episcopal throne ascended distinguished men with strong personalities, such as Narcissus the Wonderworker (185-211), the most important Bishops of Jerusalem since Symeon till even the First Ecumenical Synod of 325. This pious Patriarch, having been accused falsely, fled to the desert where he remained ignored for a long time. In his place Dios was elected (211) who was succeeded almost immediately by Herman and Gordian (211-212). In the mean time in 211 appeared in Jerusalem Saint Narcissus, whom following the death of Gordian, the people persistently implored him to accept again the pastoral care of the Church. He however refused not being able to serve due to old age.

His successor was Alexander from Cappadocia (213-251) who having arrived in Jerusalem on pilgrimage, he was obliged by the Christians to become assistant to the Bishop Narcissos. As a Bishop, Alexander pastored the Church successfully, created an important library in Jerusalem, built a school in which the famous Origen taught and helped significantly in the development of theological manuscripts. After Saint James, the brother of the Lord, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, Alexander held the position of primacy for the first time in the history among the learned Bishops of the Church and was the first one to build a library and a school. The continuous progress of the Church of Jerusalem was interrupted by the persecutions by Decius (250), Diocletian (303) and Maximilian (308-319), during which time many known and unknown Christians were led to martyrdom, especially Bishops and other lower level clerics. In fact during the persecution of Decius, among others, Bishop Alexander was also arrested who after a bright justification of the Christian faith, he died in prison in251, due to old age and was laid to rest in a modest tomb in the city. During these difficult times of persecutions the Bishopric of Jerusalem was pastored successfully by Mazabanis (251-260), Hymeneos (260-298), Zambdas (298-300) and Hermon (300-314).

The peak of the Church of Jerusalem (326-614).

From the period of Great Constantine and on, the Church of Jerusalem started to experience days of prosperity and great heights, developed a respectable activity and drew the attention not only of the simple faithful who would flock by the thousands on pilgrimage but also of the Christian kings of the Byzantine Empire.

A) The rise in the position of honour of the Church of Jerusalem.

At the beginning of the 4 th century, the Episcopal throne of the Church of Jerusalem was occupied by Makarios 1 st (314-333), a wise and diligent hierarch but also a champion of Orthodoxy. Following the declaration of the order of Mediolan in 313 and the substantial triumph of Christianity, the overall state of the Church of Jerurusalem changed radically, the authority of her Bishopric had increased significantly and gradually regained her early glory and spiritual shine. In the beginning Makarios together with other Bishops of Palestine took part in the First Ecumenical synod (325) where he was accorded a position of honour among the different thrones of Palestine. There, after meeting with the emperor Constantine, he succeeded in the turn over of the holy shrines to Christian worship and he enriched with buildings worthy of their sanctity. Moreover, this Synod by its 7 th canon, recognized the right of the Bishop of Jerusalem to a position of honour, for it was the practice and early tradition that the Aelia Bishopric be honoured with the retinue of honour among the rest of the Bishops of Palestine in preservation of the metropolis own office. This canon was essentially the first step for the rise of the Episcopal throne of the Mother of Churches, confirming this way the great importance she had in the consciousness of the Christian world. However it was not conferred on the Bishop of Jerusalem, the metropolitan or patriarchal office as some have suggested, but the Jerusalem Bishop simply assumed out of custom and early tradition, a certain principle, namely a retinue of honour between the other bishops of Palestine saving for the Metropolis of Caesaria, the proper metropolitan claim, by which, above all, the Metropolitan of Caesaria would ordain the bishops of Jerusalem as well as the rest of Palestine. As example in the synodic meetings of the Bishops of Palestine, the Bishop of Jerusalem would preside in honour, even though the actual office of the metropolitan of Palestine belonged to the one at Caesaria. In the mean time the influence of Christianity would increase continuously and as narrated by the historian Eusebios, the Christians from everywhere would come to Jerusalem.

B) Erection of imposing churches in the Holy Lands

One year after the completion of the First Ecumenical Synod, the pious mother of the emperor Constantine, Saint Helen, came to Jerusalem, her arrival marked a new age in the history of the Church of Jerusalem and acted as a point of departure for her ensuing historical flourish. Under the instigation and help of the august, excavations were carried out in the Holy City, which brought to light the modest and all holy martyrdom of the salvific Resurrection, namely, the All Holy Tomb, the rock of the horrific Golgotha and the Holy Cross. All these sanctified places were included in the majestic Basilica of the Resurrection which was built later on the same place. This area during the time of the Passions of Christ was outside the wall of the City. Its inclusion in the City occurred later with the addition of a third wall by Herod Agrippa. During the period of the Roman rule of Jerusalem and the terrible persecutions against the Christians, Adrian covered Golgotha and the all Holy Tomb with earth, with the result that these shrines were preserved intact with the passing of time. This way, the excavation activities, having first removed the successive layers of earth, the hill of Golgotha and the cave of the All Holy Tomb were uncovered. At a short distance together with the two crosses of the robbers, the Holy Cross was discovered having been recognized in a miraculous way. It is certain that a segment of the discovered Cross of Martyrdom remained in Jerusalem while a section from it was sent to the emperor Constantine who through a congratulatory letter to Bishop Makarios ordered the erection of majestic churches.

According to the predetermined plans in the area of the All Holy Tomb and of Golgotha as well as on the spot of discovery of the Holy Cross, provision was made to build a complex of huge, majestic and harmonious Christian Churches. Great Constantine wished that in the area of the Passions and the Resurrection of the Lord, many buildings be erected and beautifully decorated, such as the holy place of the Lord's Passions……… buildings richly decorated, expressing the wish for not only the complete improvement of the Basilica but also the rest of the buildings, each and all, so that the city win the prize of beauty by these buildings. The work for the erection of this building complex started in 326 and was completed about 10 years later. Their description was saved by the historian Eusebios of Caesaria (260-340) but significant information was also provided by the pilgrim Etheria, who lived in the Holy Lands from 381-384.

During this period most of the holy shrines of Jerusalem were discovered and recognized and in parallel many imposing and beautiful churches were built at different areas, sanctified by the Lord, not only around the holy City but in the broader area of Palestine. During this period Saint Helen was visiting throughout Palestine and according to the wish of the emperor, she was erecting churches at different areas. So, apart from the majestic Basilica of the All Holy Sepulchre, of the discovery of the Holy Cross and of Golgotha, two more churches were built at the same time, the one at the attic of Sion, the Church of the Apostles, as it was called and the Basilica at the cave of the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem. Also Churches were built at the Mount of Olives and at the place of Ascension of the Lord in Bethane and elsewhere around Jerusalem. After saint Helen, great piety towards the Holy Lands was shown by Eutropia , wife of Maximilian and mother –in-law of Great Constantine, whose interest brought about the immediate replacement of ethnic temples and idols at Hebron with imposing Christian churches which were built according to royal edict. Successively twenty five more churches were built at historical and sanctified places, such as at the Tomb of the Theotokos in Gethsemane, at the cave of John the Baptist near the river Jordan, at the place where the angel appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem, at Hebron by the “oak of Mambre” at the place of the healing of the mother-in-law of Peter in Tiberias, at the twelve-thrones, at the well of Jacob at Syhem, at the place of residence of John the Theologian in Capernaum where the miracle of the centurion took place, and at the healing of the paralytic, at the place of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, at the place of Annunciation in Nazareth, at Cana in Galilee, at mount Tabor and other familiar Christian shrines.

Later the Church of the great marty George was built at Lydda, which accorded great importance to that city. That is why Lydda or Diospolis as also called Georgopolis or simply, the city of Saint George. Most of these Churches were erected with the direct overseeing by Saint Helen, with rich internal decorations and beautiful mosaics and impressive marble works. The inauguration in fact of the two churches, that of the Resurrection and of Golgotha were performed in the presence of clerics and the public on September 14, 335, and the celebration lasted for eight days. With such activities, the Holy Places were projected further, with the result to gradually becoming universal shrines.

C) The Development of monastic life in Palestine .

Parallel to the undertaking of the holy shrines and the spreading of Christianity in Palestine, monastic life developed very soon. The monastic ideal was originally illumined by the first great inhabitants of the desert, Hilarion and Charitou. Saint Hilarion, otherwise hierapostle of Christianity in Palestine, during his sojourn in Alexandria came to know Saint Anthony, whom he followed in the desert. On his return to his country, he chose a desert area between Gaza and Maiouma, where he lived ascetically. His first monastic centre was in 328, the Great Lavra of Saint Hilarion, which consisted of a complex of many cells spread across the desert. Saint Hilarion tried not only to coordinate the monks into a coenobium (common living) but also to bring them in beneficial contact with the outside world, thanks to the rule of the Christian authorities. Of course the system of coenobium which was instituted had not yet the characteristic of the final stage of coenobium. But through it Christianity was spread and monasticism was consolidated in the area of Gaza, even though it consisted in a thriving centre of Greek culture.

During the same period, Saint Chariton was also a regulator of the monastic life in Palestine, started one more ascetic form of the Church of Jerusalem. Chariton, coming from Iconium to Jerusalem on pilgrimage at the Holy Lands, was abducted by robbers and was brought over to their hiding place in the desert of Faran near Jerusalem. After his miraculous release, he remained for a little while with other monks at the banks of the river Jordan, but he returned to Faran where in 330 he built a First Lavra in the Judean desert. It was inaugurated by Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem. The monks at this Lavra lived differently from the monks at the Saint Hilarion Lavra. They lived in their own cells, but had a direct and common leader, the abbot of the Larvra, living ascetically under common rules and praying day and night at the Church of the Lavra. With the introduction of the Lavreatic system one more step was taken in the organization of the monastic life in Palestine. Later Saint Chariton departed from the monastery and went over to Mount Sarantario, near Jericho, where he founded a new Lavra, the Lavra of Duka, while later he departed again for the desert of Judea where he retired in the caves of Tekoa. The fame of his sanctity drove many monks near him, and for their benefit he built the third Lavra, the Lavra of Souka, the one known as the old Lavra. Thus, Saint Chariton became the inhabitant of the Judean desert.

In the following years, the monastic system was adopted also by the Churches of Jerusalem. It is understandable that the numerous worship services, numerous ceremonies and all other manner of holy services, did not permit the existence of a monastic order in the clerical deaconate, especially at the Church of the Resurrection. This brought about the Brotherhood of the All Holy Sepulchre, which consisted of a special monastic Order, dedicated to the continual holy deaconate and in the ever present prayer. By the work that these monks performed, studying in chanting and in the day and night services in the All Holy Church of the Resurrection, they received the name “The Important Ones” of the Holy Resurrection of Christ, or the Order of the Outstanding. This Order was instituted since the founding of the Church of the Resurrection or even earlier during the 3 rd century, by the Bishop of Jerusalem Alexander. The Order received the label Important Ones due to the virtuous and ascetic life of its members, for the word Important is identical in meaning with the words virtuous, zealous, industrious and in general it is used for the virtuous ascetic monks of the 4 th to 5 th and 6 th centuries, not only in Palestine but also in Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch.

Similar monastic orders were created at the rest of the Churches in the Holy Lands, like the Important Ones of the Basilicas of the Holy Sion at the Mount of Olives and of the Nativity in Bethlehem. These Orders are not only responsible for the performance of the Holy Services and Vespers but also for the care and beautification and guarding of these bright and magnificent monuments of Christianity. From testimonies of that period we are informed of the existence of the office of the custodian or guardian of the holy equipment or guardian of heirlooms of our holy in Christ our God, Resurrection as well as that of the guardian of the Cross and the one entrusted with the guarding of the holy wood of the Cross.

D) Reinforcements by the emperors

In the mean time the Church of Jerusalem despite the minor internal conflicts, continued her ascending course. The radical change that returned with the recovering of the earlier magnificence during the pastoral care of Makarios, continued with the election of his successor Maximian 3 rd (333-348) who contributed substantially in the consolidation and spreading of Christianity in Palestine. In 335 the churches of Jerusalem were inaugurated in the presence of all the Bishops who had taken part in the Synod of Tyre and who were adorned in royal raiment with heirlooms mounted in gold. The Holy City of Jerusalem got a new magnificence and the Mother of All Churches became an acclaimed centre of spiritual life, equal to the other centres. Immediately after a great disturbance occurred in Palestine by the Arian heresy. The repeated Synods tossed around the Church of Jerusalem and Bishop Maximos, even though he had no metropolitan authority, called a Synod in 346 in support of Great Athanasios. This action of his caused a great displeasure to the heretics, who succeeded in bringing about his exile (347-348) during which he reposed.

During that period the Bishopric throne was adorned by the magnificent catechist Kyrill 1 st (350-386) who repeatedly clashed with the heretics as well as with his personal adversaries. His Orthodox spirit, monastic form, ecclesiastic spiritualism, affability and his continuous struggle against the heretics, had the consequence for Jerusalem to again draw the pious' attention of the entire Christian world.

At the same time the premeditated overlooking of the Bishop of Jerusalem by the Metropolitan of Caesaria, Acacios, due to great differences in important dogmatic matters as well as due to the magnificence that the Holy City gradually acquired, had the consequence to disrupt the relationship between the metropolitan and the Bishop. The latter could no longer ecclesiastically submit to the continually declining Caesaria. In fact after the Second Ecumenical Synod (381) which condemned the various heresies and justified the Patriarch Kyrill, the Church of Jerusalem continued to gain in his person, a continuous spiritual ascent and greater magnificence. That period all the emperors maintained undiminished their interest on the Holy Places with a single exception, the hopeless attempt by Julius the Transgressor (361-363) to return to idolatry.

At this point it should be pointed out that worthy to the magnificence of the majestic churches were the imposing and emotional holy services which were established right from the start and were performed with particular reverence to the holy shrines. It is a blessing for the Mother of Churches the fact that extensive descriptions were saved from the earliest times to present. In the travel-guide of Etheria, as well as in the catechism of Saint Kyrill, there are important details on the holy services which were chanted daily and on Sundays in the then three Churches of the Resurrection, Golgotha and of the Passions, but also during those of the Holy Week and the Sunday of Pascha. From these historical testimonies it becomes known that the service of the Church of the Resurrection would start about midnight after the first cock-crow, when the gates of all three Churches would open and the faithful clerics and laity would ceremonially enter. During the matins chants, the Bishop of Jerusalem would come to the Church, not being certain if his presence in the Holy Service occurred daily or only during official days. It is certain though that he was present daily during the service of Vespers when evening hymns were chanted. For the Saturday vespers, the people would gather from first cock-crow in the Basilica of the Resurrection and during the holy service the Bishop would be inside the edicule of the All Holy Sepulchre. In the early hours of Sunday, the Bishop would go with the presbyters to Golgotha for the service of the catechumens. Progressively all the decreed feasts were revered and in those days a multitude of people would gather in Jerusalem for the festivities at the holy shrines. However, apart from the descriptions of the holy services, Etheria, with admiration described on the beautification of the Basilicas in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Very important information is also found on the prominent place the Greeks and the Greek language enjoyed in the Holy City as well as for the sincere Greek character of the Church of Jerusalem. Testimonies from the travel-guide of Etheria, appears that the holy services were performed exclusively in Greek and only at specific occasions the readings were translated in other languages: thus as the Bishop even though knew the Syrian language he would speak in Greek….. As it was necessary for the readings be done in the Church in Greek, it was also always necessary to translate it in Syrian, for the benefit of the people, in order they be always preached so that to the grieved Latins who did not know either Greek or Syrian the present brothers would translate to them in Latin. Therefore from these testimonies it appears that after the end of the persecutions and from the beginning of the 4 th century the Christian faith was consolidated as the official religion of the Roman Nation, while the Church of Jerusalem assumed a Greek character and hypostasis as Greek was the liturgical language used.

From the beginning of the 5 th century and beyond and while the Bishopric throne of Jerusalem was occupied by the luminous hierarch John 2 nd (386-417) the local Church enjoyed great prosperity with the support of the Byzantine emperors. During his time the most significant event was the fall of ethnicity (old idolatric culture) in Palestine especially in Gaza which was mainly due to the apostolic activities of Bishop Porphyrios from Thessaloniki. Particularly the empress Eudoxia not only did she grant a respectable sum of money and architectural plans for the construction of the Christian Church in Gaza but she also shipped from Constantinople construction materials, precious columns and marbles together with the mechanic Roufino from Antioch. This Church replaced the idolatric Marneion. And in honour of her august it was named Eudoxiana (407). Even the emperor Theodosios 2 nd (418) helped the successor of John, Bishop of Jerusalem Praylio (417-422) with a respectable sum of money for the poor and gold stone encrusted cross for holy Golgotha.