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Greek Orthodox Church (Greece)

Last modified: 2017-07-16 by ivan sache
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Status of Orthodox churches in Greece

The Orthodox Church is composed of 15 autocephalous churches: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Patriarchate of Antioch, Patriarchate of Alexandria, Patriarchate of Russia, Orthodox Church of Greece, Patriarchate of Romania, Patriarchate of Serbia, Patriarchate of Bulgaria, Orthodox Church of Albania, Orthodox Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia, Orthodox Church of Poland, Orthodox Church in America, Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Patriarchate of Georgia).
There is no subordination between these churches: the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome bears the title of First Among Equals Patriarch. This means nothing more than that he is the president of All Orthodox Conferences, without any leadership over other church than his own, the Patriarcate of Constantinople. The Patriarchate is not an independent state like the Holy See. Legally, it is simply a Turkish corporation. The Patriarch is not the head of any state.

From an ecclesiastical, Orthodox point of view, Greece is in a peculiar situation:
- Areas that formed part of the Kingdom of Greece between 1830 and 1912 belong to the Orthodox Church of Greece, headed by the Archbishop of Athens;
- The parts of European mainland that were incorporated to Greece after the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 - Greek Macedonia and Thrace are direct subjects of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. They are administrated, however, on its behalf, by the Orthodox Church of Greece;
- Rhodes, which became part of Greece in 1948, and the other Dodecanese islands belong to the Patriarchate, which directly administrate them.

Yannis Natsinas, Dimitri Kaminas, Ivan Marinov & John Udics, 13 February 2006

Use of the "Byzantine Imperial flag" by the Greek Orthodox Churches

[Byzantine Imperial Flag]

"Byzantine Imperial flag" - Image by António Martins , 27 January 1999

The "Byzantine imperial flag" is yellow with a black double-headed eagle clutching a scepter and orb, with crown above and between the two heads.
This flag doesn't have official status as the flag of the Orthodox Church of Greece, of any other Orthodox church, or of Orthodox Christianity as a whole. Its shape is neither determined, there are different formats in use. Its neither the flag of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The use of the flag has been reported from individual parishes in Greek Orthodox Churcuhes with ethnic Greek populations (Patriarcate of Constantinople, Orthodox Church of Greece and Orthodox Church of Cyprus). The eagle is sometimes surronded by the words"Εκκλησια της Ελλαδος Ιερα Αρχιεπισκοπη Αθηνων in black lettering

John Udics & Ned Smith, 15 February 2006

Flag of the Orthodox Church of Greece

The flag of the Orthodox Church of Greece (photo, photo) is red with a large yellow cross. Along with four golden firesteels, there is the inscription "TOYTO NIKA" in white (the second "O" is actually an Ω, while "OY" is actually a ligature Ω / Υ), which is Greek for "In hoc signo vinces". The top arm of the cross is charged with the Χ-Ρ symbol in white. In the center of the flag is a white double-headed eagle fimbriated red, charged upon its breast with a red shield with a cross between four firesteels, all in gold, as used in the Byzantine Empire.

Tomislav Todorović, 12 May 2013


Former flag of the Orthodox Church of Greece - Image by Tomislav Todorović & António Martins , 2 June 2015

An early flag of the Church was combining the designs of the "Byzantine Imperial flag" and of the national flag of Greece. It was divided vertically, with the Byzantine double-headed black eagle on golden field in the hoist, which occupied 1/3 of the flag length, and nine blue and white stripes in the fly, which occupied the rest of the flag. I have seen it only once, in the TV-report about the Meteora complex of monasteries which was broadcasted some time in the mid-1980s. Still I remember well that a light shade of blue was used, which I was seeing frequently in the illustrations, but never in real life until then, and that the black charge in golden field, although too small to reveal all the details on TV screen, was still recognizable as the double-headed eagle. Although used in the Meteora complex, it certainly was not a specific flag of its own; with such design, it could only be an early flag of the Church of Greece as a whole, used before the current flag.

Tomislav Todorović, 2 June 2015

Flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

The flag of the Patriarchate of Constatinople is white with deep red - on the face, in a red circle with gold outlines, a double-headed eagle, with a crown on each head, and a crown over both, and the abbreviation "ΟΙΚ" and "Π" for Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον (Oecumenical Patriarchate), and in the right claw of the eagle, a cross, and in the left, an orb with a cross on its top. Below the eagle is an arc of wreathed branches - which may be of the same sort of tree. Below the tail, there is the outline of a closed book, atop of which are two keys, crossed. On either side of that, there are the letters "Κ" and "Π" for Κωνσταντινουπόλεως (Constantinople). On the reverse of the flag, a deep red equal-armed cross, with the abbreviations Βαρθ in the first quarter, λμς in the second (for Βαρθολομαίος, Bartholomeos) and in the third quarter Π with Τ, Ρ, and Χ superimposed to form one character, and in the fourth quarter, ΚΡΣ (for Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Patriarch and Constantinople). There is a thin deep red circle around this, and the words Οικουμενικόν Πατριάρχην in gold, and in the base of the circle, a branch in deep red, and above it in small golden characters, the Greek numbers 'a' 'xsi' 'ts' 'a', indicating the date 1991. All this is surrounded by two thin deep red circles.

John Udics, 15 February 2006

Mount Athos

Mount Athos (Όρος Άθως), aka the Holy Mountain (Ἅγιον Ὄρος) is located on the easternmost part of the peninsula of Chalkidiki (Macedonia). Mount Athos (389 sq. km) stretches into the Aegean Sea for about 57 km and varies in width between 7 and 10 km.
The 20 Athonite monasteries, placed under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, form the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain (Αὐτόνομη Μοναστικὴ Πολιτεία Ἁγίου Ὄρους). Its status is prescribed in Article 105 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic.

Ships sailing around the coast of mount Athos fly both the Greek flag and the flag of the "Byzantine Imperial flag".
Ships sailing from Ouranopoulos to the harbour of Dafni fly only the "Byzantine Imperial flag".

Thomas Becker, 20 May 2002