Today as every September first Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew prayed together with hundred’s of Orthodox Christian’s in the Patriarchate’s church, in Istanbul, for the environment’s protection. Since 1989, every September 1st (the beginning of the ecclesiastical calendar) has been designated as a day of prayer for “the protection of the environment” throughout the Eastern Orthodox Church consisting of some 300 million Christians worldwide. Instituted by the late Patriarch Dimitrios of the Greek Orthodox Church, the tradition has since been shepherded by his successor Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople who has been dubbed “The Green Patriarch.” Bartholomew was the first major religious leader to have initiated since 1991 various events to promote environmental protection. Exercising his influence on the Catholic Pope, Bartholomew in 2002 orchestrated a coming together in joint environmental efforts that witnessed the first liturgy spoken by the Greek Patriarch in Italy for over 1,000 years since the Vatican and the Orthodox Churches excommunicated one another in the Great Schism of 1054.
Elected Ecumencial Patriarch in 1991, Bartholomew was born Demetrios Archontonis on the Aegean Island of Imvros (Turkey) on February 29th,1940. He studied at the renowned Orthodox Theological School of Halki, graduating with high honors in 1961. He holds a doctorate from the Institute of Eastern Studies of the Gregorian University in Rome, and completed further studies in Switzerland and Germany. He is fluent in seven languages, including Greek, English and Turkish. He is the 270th Successor to the Apostle Andrew who brought the Christian faithful to the shores of the Bosphoros, ancient Constantinople, now Istanbul. Constantinople eventually became the seat of the Church in the East.
(Photo credit: Rachel Portele)