On the night of Christmas Eve, December 24, 2019 / January 6, 2020, the Episcopal Entourage came down in the Basilica through the Baptistery Gate, led by the Most Reverend Archbishop Methodios of Tabor, for the beginning of Christmas Matins.
During the Service of Matins, around 23.00 p.m. H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos came to the Altar from St. Nikolaos’ chapel and started the procedure of “taking the blessing”, the Priests followed, and they all put on their liturgical vestments, the Jerusalem Patriarchate reports.
Immediately afterward, as the kathisma “Come all ye faithful and see where Christ was born” the formal litany began to the Cave from the Main Gate of the Holy Altar, as His Beatitude was escorted on the right side by Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Autonomy and on the left by the Greek Consul General, by Mr. Sami Daud, Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and representative of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and other representatives of the Palestinian State.
In the Cave, the Gospel of the Nativity was read according to St. Luke: “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus…” (Luke 2:1-20) by His Beatitude in Greek and by the Most Reverend Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias in Arabic.
This was followed by a prayer and then His Eminence the Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina read His Beatitude’s Christmas message in Greek.
Matins and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom followed at the Catholicon of the Monastery, led by His Beatitude with co-celebrants the Archbishops of the Patriarchate; Most Reverend Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, Methodios of Tabor, Demetrios of Lydda, Aristovoulos of Madaba, and the Most Reverend Metropolitan Paul of Drama from the Church of Greece, Hagiotaphite Hieromonks, Priests and Deacons, and the Divine Liturgy at the God-receiving Cave, led by His Eminence Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis.
The dismissal of the Divine Liturgy according to the Status Quo was at 3.30 a.m.
Photography courtesy of Facebook / Dimitrie Arhim Teofil Anăstăsoaie