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Orestus of Jerusalem

Orestus of Jerusalem, also known as Jeremiah, was the patriarch of the Church of Jerusalem from 986 to 1006. His brother Arsenius became the Metropolitan of Cairo at the same time.


Nothing is known of the early life of Patr. Orestus. His patriarchate began in a tranquil atmosphere as his friendship with the Christian Vizier ‘Isa Ibn Nastur and his Russian wife, who was also Christian, enable him to influence the Fāṭimid Caliph Al-ʿazīz Biʾllāh Nizār Abū Manṣūr. However, this arrangement disappeared when al-ʿAzīz's son Abu Ali Mansur El-Hakim succeeded him. The change was drastic as the new caliph was fanatically Muslim.

El-Hakim believed himself to be the incarnation of the Deity and began to persecute both the Christians and Jews through a series of orders that differentiated the Christians and Jews from the Muslims. He began in 1004 by ordering all Christians and Jews to wear a black turban and a special belt. In 1008, he prohibited the making of wine and forbade the procession on Palm Sunday from Bethany to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He also began to force conversion to Islam of all Christian officials. Those who did not he dismissed. Additionally, he ordered Christians and Jews both to wear black robes, ride only on donkeys, and for Christians to display a cross in baths and for Jews a wooden image of a calf.

The worst affront occurred in 1009, after Patr. Orestus' repose, when the Caliph ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The destruction of the church began on September 28, 1009. The church and all the buildings affiliated with it were destroyed and all materials of value were taken by the Muslims.

During the years 1006/1007, the various Christian groups in the Holy Land celebrated Pascha on different days. During this time Patr. Orestus journeyed to Constantinople, leaving the governance of the Jerusalem patriarchate and the controversy to the Patriarch of Alexandria Arsenius who established a unified celebration of Pascha after the Egyptian and Palestinian Christians were not able to agree. Patr. Orestus reposed while in Constantinople during 1006 and was succeeded by Patr. Theophilus I in 1012 after a period of vacancy.

Succession box:
Orestus of Jerusalem
Preceded by:
Joseph II
Patriarch of Jerusalem
Succeeded by:
Theophilus I
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