Free Online Bible Library | Patriarchate of Jerusalem

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Patriarchate of Jerusalem

From the account in the Acts of the Apostles, enlarged in Eusebius, it is evident that the first organized Christian ecclesiastical structure was brought into being in Jerusalem, with James, the Lord's brother, as presiding officer. That leadership remained in Judeo-Christian and dynastic hands until the devastation of the city under Hadrian, whence the episcopal list becomes Gentile in name, and the relevance of the city is eclipsed by the primary churches in the major cities of the Greco-Roman world. The honor of birthplace of Christianity was however retained, and intensified when Constantine's mother, Helena, made the city a place of pilgrimage which restored prestige to its diminished jurisdiction.

By canon law the Council of Nicea (325) accorded place of honor to its episcopal structure next after Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch-under the last of whose territorial jurisdiction it might actually be assumed to have come. While the Council of Chalcedon (451) raised the see to patriarchal rank, the Islamic conquest reduced the significance of that rank. The Crusaders disrupted the residential continuity of the office, so that its holders intermittently until 1845 often were to be found in Constantinople instead; they also created in 1099 a Latin patriarchate frequently resident at Acre which lasted until 1291 (nominally 1374), but was reconstituted in 1847. The non-Roman Armenians also have a patriarch of this title, while the Melchites include Jerusalem in the titulary of their patriarch of Antioch.

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