The Ecumenical Patriarchate today.
THE PATRIARCHAL HOUSE
This architectural arrangement was planned by the active Patriarch Gregory V (1797-1798, 1806-1808, 1818-1821), while repairs for the «modernization» of the buildings were undertaken from time to time by other Patriarchs, as mentioned earlier.
The patriarchal complex was mostly built of timber. The upper floor housed the Throne Room or Great Synodicon, the Hall of the Patriarchs, the Little Synodicon, the Patriarch's Office, the Patriarchal Trapeza and the Great Protosyncellia with the necessary offices. The middle floor comprised the Hall of the Panagia, the Room of Primates, the Offices of the Holy Synod's Secretariat and the Hall of the Legal Council. The ground-floor included the Great Archdeaconry, the Deacons' Refectory and other auxiliary services. The so-called papadika, i.e. the living-quarters for the higher and lower clergy, were in the adjoining building, next to the patriarchal church.
In 1941, in the patriarchy of Benjamin (1936-1946), a short-circuit in the electrical installation caused a devastating fire which burned to the ground the patriarchal edifice and «all that it contained became part of the past» (Meliton Karas). The furniture, sacred vessels, portraits of the Ecumenical Patriarchs, relics, icons, illuminated manuscripts and other valuable objects were lost. Since that fire, and for about 50 years (1941-1989), the Patriarchate went through a period of great hardships and difficulties but also of hope and expectations. On the spiritual level, however, «the most revered and venerated Mother of all the Orthodox Christians» (Bartholomew Koutloumousianos), the Great Church of Constantinople, continued to shepherd her flock all over the world with the same vigour «in a spirit of wisdom and admonition».
The new restored building will house all the Patriarchate's services, from the Patriarch's Office, the Audience Room and the Synodicon to the living-quarters of the resident staff and the hostel for the guests.
From 1941 to the present (1989), the Patriarchal Oikos was essentially composed of two edifices. The building of stone masonry known as «Constantinian», erected in 1897 in the patriarchy of Constantine V (1897-1901) and the so-called «Eugenideion», built with funds donated by the banker Eustace Eugenides in the patriarchy of Joachim III (1878-1884, 1901-1912), in order to serve «as the Patriarch's own living-quarters». The offices of the Great Protosyncellus and the Archidiakonos with their services were on the ground-floor. The office of the Archigrammateus and the other services, the Little Synodicon and a combined office and sitting-room for the Prelates were located on the first floor. The upper floor comprised the Small Refectory, the Hall of the Eisegesia and the office of the Eisegetes-Metropolitan, the Chapel of St. Andrew, and the Office of the Ecumenical Patriarch. For almost half a century these rooms have been the centre of struggles and agony, of major and minor decisions for the Orthodox Church.The Little Synodicon and the Chapel of St. Andrew the Apostle are worth a detailed description.
The Little Synodicon
The Little Synodicon is a small elegant room where the Holy Synod holds both its ordinary and extraordinary meetings presided over by the Patriarch. The special characteristic of this room is its carefully studied and finely executed decoration. The last renowned hagiographer of Constantinople, Eirenarchos Covas, painted the room in his own distinct style. The faces are delicately outlined, the unusual vivid chromatic tones subside before the discreet, fragile and lean countenances. A very light, almost white, colour is predominant and the figures seem to belong to the realm of dream and myth. The general atmosphere is profoundly mystical. From their images, the venerated holy figures silently transmit their great message to this world in the magnificence of Byzantine art.
The Little Synodicon was storied in 1943 by Eirenarchos Covas (1894-1972) on the basis of a carefully designed iconographic programme. The room is entered from the south. The lintel of the single entrance is painted with medallions containing portrayals of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. On the east wall Christ is pictured full-length. With the right hand He makes the sign of benediction and in the left He holds an open Gospel Book inscribed with the verse:
«ΟΥ ΓAP ΕΙΣΙ ΔΥΟ H ΤΡΕΙΣ ΣΥΝΗΓΜΕΝΟΙ ΕΙΣ TO ΕΜΟΝ ΟΝΟΜΑ ΕΚΕΙ ΕΙΜΙ EN ΜΕΣΩ ΑΥΤΟΝ». («For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them»).
The corresponding place on the west wall is occupied by the full-length painting of the Holy Virgin portrayed in the type of the Blachernitissa, standing with palms turned towards the onlooker in salutation. The remaining surfaces of the walls are painted with the full-length figures of the major saints associated with the most glorious and brilliant pages in the history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. St. Andrew, the First-Called Apostle and founder of the Great Church of Constantinople, is portrayed full-length, frontally, with the facial characteristics traditionally attributed to this Saint by Byzantine painting (south wall). St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory of Nazianzus are depicted together, their full-length frontal figures painted in delicate hues (west wall). Portrayed next to Christ (on the east wall), St. Photius the Confessor, great hierarch and writer, is shown standing full-length, holding a little icon of the Virgin and Child in the left hand and a cross in his raised right hand.
The ceiling is beautifully decorated with chromatic compositions of a profound symbolic and theological meaning. Medallions contain the symbols of the four Evangelists, each holding the corresponding Gospel Book.
The monogram of Christ and the apocalyptic letters A-Ω are inscribed in circles. Below the trikera, on the east and west sides, there is a design of arches with crosses resting upon globes. On the north side a stained glass shows the Preparation of the Throne. Lastly, the whole Creed is inscribed in majuscule lettering above the decoration of the east, south and west sides.
iconographic ensemble is characterized by unity and a constant
reference to the deeper ideological content of the sources of the
The Chapel of St. Andrew the Apostle
The Chapel of St. Andrew the Apostle: Joachim III completed his renovating programme in the second period of his patriarchy (1901-1912) by adding to the stone-built edifice the Patriarch's own living-quarters and a chapel honouring St. Andrew the Apostle. Eustace Eugenides defrayed the cost of this building, which was hence called «Eugenideion». The patriarchal parecclesion was consecrated on 20 September 1904.
The chapel of St. Andrew is located between the Office of the Patriarch and the Hall of the Eisegesia. The templon, the icons, the candelabra and the entire decoration is in the so-called «Russian» style. The icons are by the celebrated Joasaph painters of Mount Athos and include: Christ portrayed standing and making the sign of blessing, the Virgin and Child depicted full-length, the Forerunner standing in attitude of blessing to the right of the Holy Virgin, the Annunciation painted on the door-valves and the Lord's Supper on the lintel of the Beautiful Gate, the Virgin's parents Anne and Joachim, the Saints Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great and Athanasius of Alexandria in medallions on the walls.
In a patriarchal and synodical letter written on parchment, the Orthodox Church proclaimed E. Eugenides «a benefactor of the Patriarchikos Oikos». At the entrance to the parecclesion, a built-in marble plaque bears the inscription: «Donated in veneration by Eustace Eugenides to Joachim III, 1903».