St. Dionysius on the Epidemic of Alexandria


St. Dionysius the Great was Pope of Alexandria from 248 to 264. During that time, the Church of Alexandria suffered horrible persecution. Just as that was dying down, an epidemic broke out in the city, just as Pascha was approaching. St. Dionysius described the epidemic, and the Church's response, in...

Athenagoras Didn’t Want the Hagia Sophia Returned to the Church


The Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was the greatest cathedral in the Orthodox world -- an architectural wonder built during the reign of St. Justinian, which, according to legend, inspired the emperor to declare, "Solomon, I have outdone thee." Centuries later, Prince Vladimir of Kiev sent envoys to study Orthodoxy in...

The Cold War Origins of the EP’s Albanian Diocese


There are 13 Albanian Orthodox parishes in America, and 11 of them are part of the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA. The other two belong to the Albanian Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- the smallest jurisdiction in America. It's possible that this two-parish diocese is the tiniest diocese in...

The “Bulgarian Schism” Began 150 Years Ago


On February 28, 2020, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the creation of an independent Bulgarian Church (known as the "Bulgarian Exarchate") by decree of the Ottoman sultan. For centuries up to that point, the Bulgarian Orthodox living in the Ottoman Empire had been under the...

Chronology of Terror: The Anti-Orthodox Istanbul Pogrom of 1955


It's well known that the Greek Orthodox population in Istanbul is infinitesimally small -- estimates these days usually put the number at under 2,000. It's also well known that most Greeks in Turkey were deported in the early 1920s as part of the forced "population exchange" with Greece under the Lausanne...

Athenagoras: The Apostle of America to Orthodoxy


  In a previous article, I shared some of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras' declarations of loyalty to the United States, documented in U.S. State Department files from 1950-51. Thanks to Aram Sarkisian, I have since obtained many more State Dept. documents from the rest of the 1950s. In two of these...

Secret 1950 State Dept Memo on Ecumenical Patriarch


Lately I've begun to publish a series of articles on the relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the United States government during the early Cold War period. The most recent of those articles focused on various statements of loyalty made by Patriarch Athenagoras to U.S. State Department officials. As I...

Patriarch Athenagoras’ Declarations of Loyalty to America


Thanks to my colleague Aram Sarkisian, I recently came into possession of the first batch of a trove of U.S. State Department documents related to the Orthodox Church -- and particularly the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- in the early 1950s. It will take me months -- maybe years -- to sift...