At the invitation of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Orthodox Church in America was represented at a major celebration honoring His Beatitude, Patriarch John X [Yazigi] of Antioch and All the East at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday, February 17, 2013.
His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; His Grace, Bishop Irénée of Québec City, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada; and Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, joined representatives of the world’s Orthodox Churches at the Divine Liturgy, at which Patriarch John presided.
Patriarch John’s Enthronement was held on Sunday, February 10, at the historic Mariamite Cathedral Church, Damascus, Syria—seat of the Antiochian Patriarchate since the 14th century. [The cathedral is located on the “Street Called Straight,” mentioned in Acts 9:11.] Due to current circumstances in the region, a second Divine Liturgy marking his Enthronement was scheduled for the following Sunday in Beirut. Most of the foreign delegations, in addition to the President and Prime Minister of Lebanon, the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, and other dignitaries participated in the second celebration.
On behalf of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Benjamin, Bishop Irénée, and Father Leonid presented Patriarch John with relics of the North American Saints.
A reception followed the celebration at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Patriarch John X was elected by the members of the Antiochian Holy Synod on December 17, 2012, during a special session held at the Balamand Monastery. He succeeds His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV, who fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 91 on December 5, 2012.
Born in Syria in 1955, Patriarch John received his primary, secondary and university education in Latakiya, Syria, graduating with a degree in civil engineering. He earned a degree in theology in 1978 from the Saint John of Damascus School of Orthodox of Theology at the Balamand University and a doctorate in theology with emphases in liturgy and Byzantine music in 1983 from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He was tonsured to monastic order at the Monastery of Saint Paul, Mount Athos. He was ordained to the holy diaconate in 1979 and to the holy priesthood in 1983. In 1981, he became professor of liturgical studies at the Saint John of Damascus School of Orthodox Theology. He assumed the position of dean of that theological school from 1988-1991 and again from 2001-2005.
He was elected and consecrated to the sacred episcopacy with the title Bishop of al-Hosn in 1995. He has served as superior of the Monastery of Saint George al-Humayrah in the Christian Valley (Wadi al-Nasara), Syria; superior of the Our Lady of Balamand Monastery; and spiritual father to the Convent of the Dormition, Blemmana, Syria. In 2008, he was elected and enthroned as the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe.
View a photo gallery of the celebration on the OCA web site and OCA Facebook page.