The Ecumenical Patriarchate
300 million Orthodox Christians exist worldwide, yet the heart of Orthodox Christianity has existed in Istanbul for over 17 centuries. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the ‘mother church’ and known as the “Great Church of Christ” overseeing millions of Orthodox Christians around the world, and serves as the seat for the Ecumenical Patriarch. Orthodox Christianity adheres to the teachings of the seven ecumenical councils, all of which took place either in or near Istanbul (Constantinople) between 325-787 AD.
The Patriarchal Church of St. George
As you enter Fener, to the left you’ll see the walled complex, enter the staircase on your right, the gate on the left leads to the Church of Saint George. You may notice you’ll enter through the side door, since the main gate is welded shut, this was to commemorate patriarch Gregory V who was hung her for treason in 1821, after encouraging the Greeks to overthrow the Ottoman Rule at the start of the Greek War of Independence.
The Church of Saint George is the fifth church in Istanbul to house the Ecumenical Patriarch since the 15th century. The church dates back to 1720, yet the church contains much older relics. The small building is divided into vestibule, nave and altar and filled with historical artifacts featuring Byzantine mosaics, religious relics, and a patriarchal throne.
The interior is dimly lit, so not ideal for photographs, but think of it more as a spiritual or historical visit for tourists and pilgrims alike.
Did You Know?
In the southern corner of the nave, is a fragment of the column of Christ’s Flagellation. A remnant of the column that Christ was bound to and whipped by Roman soldiers during his passion and before his crucifixion. It’s believed that St. Helen (the wife of Roman Emperor Constantius and the mother of Constantine I – Constantine the Great) discovered this and brought it back to Constantinople. Today you’ll see people make the pilgrimage to this church, to kiss or touch this fragment.