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Bishop Kallistos Ware
Orthodox Church

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  • Part I: History.
    • The twentieth century, Greeks and Arabs
      • The Patriarchate of Jerusalem
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The Patriarchate of Jerusalem

has always occupied a special position in the Church: never large

in numbers, its primary task has been to guard the Holy Places. As at Antioch, Arabs form the

majority of the people; they number today about 60,000 but are on the decrease, while before the

war of 1948 there were only 5,000 Greeks within the Patriarchate and at present there are very

much fewer (? not more than 500). But the Patriarch of Jerusalem is still a Greek, and the Broth-

erhood of the Holy Sepulchre, which looks after the Holy Places, is completely in Greek control.

  Before the Bolshevik Revolution, a notable feature in the life of Orthodox Palestine was the

annual influx of Russian pilgrims, and often there were more than 10,000 of them staying in the

Holy City at the same time. For the most part they were elderly peasants, to whom this pilgrim-

age was the most notable event in their lives: after a walk of perhaps several thousand miles

across Russia, they took ship at the Crimea and endured a voyage of what to us today must seem

unbelievable discomfort, arriving at Jerusalem if possible in time for Easter (See  Stephen Graham,

With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem, London, 1913. The author traveled himself with the pilgrims, and gives a

revealing picture of Russian peasants and their religious outlook). The Russian Spiritual Mission in Pales-

tine, as well as looking  after the Russian pilgrims, did most valuable pastoral work among the

Arab Orthodox and maintained a large number  of schools. This Russian Mission has naturally

been sadly reduced in size since 1917, but has not entirely disappeared, and there are still three

Russian convents at Jerusalem; two of them receive Arab girls as novices.


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