Church of Greece
|Church of Greece|
|Autocephaly/Autonomy recognized||1850 by Constantinople|
|Current primate||Ieronymos II|
|Musical tradition||Byzantine Chant / Choral|
|Population estimate||10,000,000 |
|Official website||Church of Greece|
The Church of Greece, also called the Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the most important of the fourteen autocephalous churches of the Orthodox Christian communion, whose territory consists of the whole of Greece except for those parts which belong to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, such as the Dodecanese and Crete. Though bishops of the "new lands" (those that were liberated from 1912 and afterwards) are members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, they refer to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the divine services.
See also, article: Timeline of Orthodoxy in Greece
The Greek Orthodox church traces its history back to the time of St. Paul who was the first to preach Christianity in Greece. He visited Athens, Philipi, Thessaloniki, Veroia, Korinth and Crete. Christianity eventually spread through Greece from these cities. In these early days, the Church of Greece comprised of a diocese with Korinth as the centre, known as Achaia and considered a city of great importance in those days.
When Constantine the Great divided the Roman Empire, Greece and Macedonia constituted the diocese of Eastern Illyricum, which was self-governing. By 733 AD, under Emperor Leo the Third, Greece was acknowledged as part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but prior to this, it was subordinated to the Bishops of Rome.
During the Byzantine Empire and the subsequent Turkish occupation of Greece, the Christian church in Greece was under the administration of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. After the Greek War of Independence (1821-32), the provisional president of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias(1776-1831), began negotiations with the patriarch for the independence of the Greek church. The final decision was made when Otto I(1815-1867), the new king of Greece, feared the Turkish government might still be able to influence the politics of Greece through the patriarchate of Constantinople and as such the Greek church was declared autocephalous in 1833. The independence was formalised by Constantinople in 1850, with some limitations specified in the "Tomos".
In 1864, the Ionian islands were added to the Church of Greece and in 1881 the diocese of Thessaly and parts of Epirus were also added. Also in this year, the first Greek Orthodox church was founded in America. Under an agreement made in 1908 between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Holy Synod of Athens, jurisdiction of the churches in America was given to the Church of Greece. In 1927, the statutes regarding the Church were modified resulting in the government controlling the church and attending the Holy Synod meetings. So during the 20s and 30s, the turbulent political events in Greece divided the Greeks of America and this resulted in Archbishop Athenaogoras of Corfu to be appointed to head the Greek Church in America.
Today the Church of Greece is governed by the Holy Synod which is presided over by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Athens and the Patriarch of Constantinople is regarded as the spiritual head of the church and all Holy Chrisma used in Greece is consecrated by him.
Note: Only "Theologians" who have been awarded with the title of "Saint" by the church are listed in this section.
- 1359 Gregory Palamas (1296-1359)
- 1770 Kosmas Aitolos (1714-1779)
- 1809 Nicodemus the Hagiorite (1748-1809)
See Main Article: List of Primates for the Church of Greece
Structure of the Church of Greece
See Main Article: Greek Saints
Over the centuries, the Church of Greece has been associated with many saints on the Church's calendar. Some of these include:
Churches and Monasteries
See Main Article: List of Greek Monasteries
Holy Synod of Greece
See Main Article: Holy Synod of Greece
The Church of Greece is organised as a state church, similar to the pattern adopted in the Russian church under Peter the Great of Russia. The ultimate authority is vested in the Synod of Bishops under the presidency of the archbishop of Athens and all Greece. A second synod, with the same presidency, consists of 12 bishops, each serving for one year only. The first synnod deals with general ecclesiastical questions, whereas the second synod deals with administrative details. The church is divided into 81 small dioceses; some of these, are nominally under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. The majority of the church's priests in Greece do not have a university education, with very little formal training beyond two years at higher seminaries after high school. An up-to-date listing, in order of seniority of ordination, of the Holy Synod can be accessed at the Church of Greece's official website.
- The Church of Greece, official website
- Representation of the Church of Greece to the European Union, official website
- Eastern Christian Churches: The Orthodox Church of Greece by Ronald Roberson, a Roman Catholic priest and scholar
|Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches of Orthodoxy|
| Four Ancient Patriarchates: Constantinople | Alexandria | Antioch | Jerusalem |
Russia | Serbia | Romania | Bulgaria | Georgia | Cyprus | Greece | Poland | Albania | Czech Lands and Slovakia | OCA*
|Sinai | Finland | Estonia* | Japan* | China* | Ukraine*|
|The * designates a church whose autocephaly or autonomy is not universally recognized.|