Today I was given…

…a moment of divine grace. Not only that I participated in the ceremony of granting the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine, but I was also blessed with an icon, illustrating the Holy Saints Constantine and Helena, which was given to me in person by His Holiness.

Being in the proximity of such a person ennobled me.

Charismatic, humble and bright at the same time, Patriarch Theophilos pointed out in his speech delivered in the presence of Patriarch Daniel, senior bishops of the Romanian Orthodox Church, distinguished professors from the University of Bucharest and other personalities who were at the event, the role of „bridge” that Christianity can play between Israel and Palestine, meaning between Jews and Muslims. Admitting the fact that between the two sides there is in fact a religious conflict, and that diplomats and politicians have failed, in time, to solve this eternal conflict, The Patriarch of Jerusalem said that, in order for peace to endure, ‘’ it is  necessary for both sides to be equal’’, concept somehow unacceptable today, at least from Israel’s part.

His Beatitude Theophilos III was born in Greece (in 1952), he arrived in Jerusalem at the age of 12, and his entire spiritual, human and diplomatic ascending within the Orthodox Church is linked to this Holy city which he sublimely evoked, calling it „the spiritual center of the world, defined by “its diversity and universality”.

An impressive Laudatio was delivered by Professor Doctor Madeea Axinciuc, Program Coordinator of Religious Studies at the University of Bucharest. Having rare and profund intellectual and theological knowledge, Madeea Axinciuc is also my professor at the Faculty of Jewish Studies. She opened the most beautiful and brightest way through the meanings of the Bible that I have ever stepped on. Encouraging the uniqueness of each student, she is one of those professors that you follow, being fascinated by the eloquence of her speech and the joy of sharing her knowledge with her disciples. There are few such professors,  and they are a real blessing.

She emphasized, referring to Patriarch Theophilos, not only his theological virtue, but his quality as „a distinguished politician” and „wise diplomat” in a Middle East that even His Holiness described it as being of a religious complexity unique in the world.

“Patriarch Theophilos sees power as the power to love. His brightness as a Patriarch is the sheer reflection of what His Beatitude is as High Priest” mentioned Madeea Axinciuc who praised, in the epistolary spirit of Paul addressing the Corinthians, the Patriarch’s ability of being benevolent, eternally patient, his lack of envy, pride and vanity, rejoicing only in the name of Truth.

This portrait was made somehow in reference, subtly, to the conflict that began about three years ago between the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Patriarch Daniel, caused by the construction of a Romanian church in Jericho, and which was ended today due to the high virtues and reconciliatory spirit of both Patriarchs.

Patriarch Theophilos, this man small in stature, with vivid eyes, a silver beard and black robes, is the personification of Humbleness Itself.  His hand gave me an icon, sharing with me, without knowing it, one of those Great Encounters that a Christian has throughout his religious life..

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