The Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East
The Patriarchate of Antioch has been one of the great centres of Christianity since the times of the New Testament. The origin of the Christian community within the city itself dates from the time of the Apostles, and the importance of the city as a center of the Christian community of the East dates from shortly thereafter. The civilized world of the Roman Empire was centred in cities, and it was quite natural that the Church, arising within the context of the Roman political structure, should assume that same external pattern. The fact that Antioch was the “Queen City” and capital of the Roman Diocese of the East went far in extending her ecclesiastical jurisdiction and influence throughout the Middle and Far East.
In the development of Church order, five great urban centres stood out after the fifth century: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. Each of these five Ancient Patriarchates was centred in a particular city, but the Church designated and/or controlled by their names extended far beyond urban boundaries. This pentarchy of Sees comprised the universal Church before the sad schism which separated Rome from her sisters in the eleventh century.
Today the Antiochian Orthodox Church has spread across the world, initially by emigration of its members from the Near East but latterly through a great incoming of western believers into her welcoming fold; hence the existence of our own recently formed Archdiocese! The light of Antioch and her missionary spirit continues to burn brightly in the world today as it once did in those formative years of the Church of the Fathers.