History of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal begins by the Will of God, synergic with the will of a Man, a Portuguese, Dr. Eduardo Henrique Pinto da Rocha, who became the First Orthodox Portuguese (after over 1.000 years of extinction of the Orthodoxy in these Portuguese Lands), the First Priest, the First Bishop, the First Metropolitan, the First Primate, the First Head of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal.

After finished his military career as Official of the Portuguese Army, he decides to depart to Switzerland, to the Agaune’s Abbey of Saint Maurice with the intention of becoming Regular Canon of Saint Augustine.

He stays there almost two years until enter in touch with the Orthodox Parish of the Villa, existing near the referred Abbey and his Love for the Orthodoxy begins to be born in his heart in a non-stop manner.

Righteous man, he doesn't abandon the Roman Catholic Abbey, not before asking the blessing to leave the Novitiate and become integrating member of the mentioned Orthodox Parish.

His Abbot, the Titular Bishop of Bethleem, before giving him the blessing for the disengagement from the Abbey, asks him to well consider and ponder before taking definitely such a decision, which was accepted as an advice and accomplished by Dr. Pinto da Rocha.

However, by the time of Easter 1966, keeping inflamed the same fire for the Orthodox Church, he receives the Saint Maurice Abbot’s Blessing and introduces himself in the already referred Orthodox Parish.

The Parish Rector communicates the fact to the Orthodox Diocesan Bishop and Dr. Pinto da Rocha is called to Geneve for an encounter with the Orthodox Diocesan Bishop, who was not just a Bishop, but the Archbishop Anthony Bartochevitch, responsible for the whole Western European Diocese, belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

A little time after this meeting, the Russian Archbishop sends Dr. Eduardo Henrique Pinto da Rocha to the Chilandar Monastery, on Mount Athos, where he stays around 9 months, becoming called urgently by the same Archbishop, who communicated the need of receiving him, by pastoral reasons, as a priest, in the Diocese.

Then he receives, with the ecclesiastical name of John, the Minor Orders of Reader, Cantor and Subdeacon, being immediately ordered as a Deacon; one week later he is ordered as a Priest and after 8 months he is exalted as Archimandrite, starting to integrate the Archbishop Anthony Bartochevitch’s Diocesan Council.

Eight months before, when he was ordained to the Priesthood, the Archbishop placed him at Paris for working with the Archpriest Alexander Troubnikoff where inhabited, for a while, in his home at Meudon-sur-Seine.

He was participating there in the liturgical celebrations with Priest Troubnikoff, where administered Sacraments to the Russian Community of Paris; this was his great pastoral passion, developing contacts with the Great Portuguese Immigrant Community, in that City.

On that same year (1968), he comes to Portugal and is fulfilled what he was longing for a long time: the first Orthodox Liturgy, according to the Byzantine Rite, was celebrated by Priest João, in Portugal, in the month of July, at Mr. Jorge Araújo’s home, a former-priest of the Anglican Church, where gathered his family and dozens of friends and sympathizers, who were beginning the immense adventure of the Eastern Orthodox Church discovery.
From then on, the Pastoral of Priest John – as he was known at the time – is extended between Paris (France) and Portugal; on that same year he comes several times to Portuguese territory for accompanying the first faithful that had just been received in the Orthodox Faith.

In the four (4) following years this accompaniment of the Portuguese Faithful, inhabiting in Portugal, passes by an active and energetic unfolding, resulting in more and more trips to Portugal.

So notorious was the Portuguese Orthodox Mission’s growth, as one can verify by the transcribed out in the Official Orthodox Bulletin of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, “MESSAGER, Bulletin d’Information du Diocese de L'Europe Occidental de L'ÉGLISE ORTHODOXE RUSSE HORS FRONTIÉRES)”, nº 65 of March/April/May 1972, at pages 24, with the title “Mission Orthodoxe Portugaise”, where one can read: 

A Portuguese Orthodox Mission was established out in the womb of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, in the Western European Diocese.
This Mission shares its activity between Portugal and France, in order to attend the Portuguese Orthodox resident in their Homeland as well as those who live in their adopted Country, which is, temporary or permanently, France. As in all Missions, it pursues the aim of introducing and expanding the Orthodoxy among the Portuguese people.
The Paris Centre includes: the Parish of Our Lady of the Perpetual Aid, where Liturgies are regularly celebrated, a Social Helping Centre for the imigrants and the Synodia of the Exaltation of the Cross, where clergymen are living.
The Lisbon Centre is constituted by the St. Archangel Michael’s Chapel where the Orthodox Liturgical Services are celebrated.

Besides the Portuguese that became Orthodox, there is in Lisbon a Community of Greek and Rumanian origin, including some hundreds of faithful, but without any local priest and belonging to none Jurisdiction.
In the South of Portugal, at Portimão, there is a small Mission conducted by a Deacon.

As a whole, the Mission counts three Priests and three Deacons, a People around two hundred faithful, to which are added the Portuguese of Greek and Rumanian origin in Lisbon, constituting, in the total, a Community of approximately five hundred people.

The Mission is headed by the Right Reverend Archimandrite John, whose residence in France is Rue Bauyn of Perreuse 94, Nogent-sur-Marne”. [Translated from the original in French Language].

Doubts do not subsist that on 1972 the Portuguese Orthodox Mission already counted – globally – with about 500 faithful, being obligatorily due that number of faithful, fathers (six in all including priests and deacons), parishes and chapels, to the started Missionary Work in 1968 by Priest John (Dr. Eduardo Henrique Pinto da Rocha).

On 1974, Archimandrite John is appointed Episcopal Administrator for the Orthodox Exarcate of Portugal.
This nomination reveals the importance taken by the Portuguese Orthodox Mission before Archbishop Anthony Bartochevitch and unequivocally indicative of the fast Mission growth that, on that time (1974), had already been exalted to the Level of Exarcate.

The Pastoral is evolving in evident and fast growth, so that, on January 1976, Archimandrite John decides to ask His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, a vacant church, by loan, in the zone of Lisbon, where other gloss could be given to the magnificent Liturgical Ceremonies, before an already significant Orthodox community, composed, in that time, by almost one thousand faithful.

After searching for some months, he was granted, by loan, St. Geronimo’s Chapel (or the Discoveries’), in the High of Restelo.

Still at that same year (1976), Archimandrite John, begins a Conferences circle on Orthodoxy which, soon after, becomes the Theology Institute, with the name of Orthodox Academy of Theology Saint Martin of Dume, that is, nowadays (2008) the Orthodox Academy of Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal, a Syndesmos member.

This Circle began its existence in Rua da Condessa, 60, in Lisbon but, very soon, on that same year, it was settled in the A.R.C.O.

Those Conferences attendance were calculated in about seventy/eighty people.

The, already, Academy of Theology included as contributors, besides Priest Martinho (Dr. Antonio of Águeda Aparício, one of the integrating clergymen of the Orthodox Exarcate of Portugal under Archimandrite John's leadership), and the Archdeacon (Dr. Manuel Carlos Ferreira de Almeida), Professor Lima de Freitas and Dr. Jose Carlos Gonçalves.

The first Academy of Theology Administrators were Dom Miguel of Bragança, Prince of the Real House of Portugal (great personal friend of Archimandrite John – the future Metropolitan Gabriel), Madame Natalia Correia, Poetess and Deputy at the Portuguese Republic Assembly and Professor Lima de Freitas, Arquitect, Painter and Director of the National Theater.

By that same year (1976), Archimandrite John settles the first Orthodox Monastery in Portugal, in Aldeia do Penedo, Sintra, under the name of Transfiguration Monastery (of which he was also the first Abbot) which remains existing in our days, where over 80 monks were already received, along its 32 years of existence.

This Monastery is until now under the spiritual Protection of one of the great Monasteries (the Esphigmenou Monastery) of the Sacred Mountain, the name by which the Mount Athos is known in the whole world.
In the meantime the accelerated growth of Orthodox Exarchate of Portugal required more Priests, being the faithful number admirably increasing.

From one side, His Eminence the Archbishop Anthony Bartochevitch of Geneve continued to give enormous importance to the nascent Orthodox Church in Portugal, to the point of having invited Archimandrite John for the Diocesan Synod of that same year, gathered in Marseille, France, granting in the pre-established schedule so much time for the Orthodox Exarchate of Portugal as to all the other ones 40 Parishes; on the other hand, there was not coherence with the effective, real and direct attendance.

The pastoral began to suffer of strangle! Archimandrite John had, furthermore, the obligation of elaborating and approving Statutes for the Church Legal existence in Portugal. It was not necessary the Head of the Church in Portugal to be a bishop. However, his existence ought to be foreseen by the Statutes.

It was also necessary the responsible for the Church in Portugal to be a Portuguese – as well as any Superior of Monastery, of Congregation or Religious Society.

Due to this reality the Archbishop Anthony Bartochevitch of Geneva said categorically to Archimandrite John, by telephone, that it was not like so in Switzerland.

If it was like that, then Archimandrite John was free to look for another Jurisdiction.

At that time the Statutes of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal were approved and the Minister of the Justice, serving as Minister of the Cults, signed the Official Recognition of the Church.

Archimandrite John, based on the Archbishop Anthony of Geneva’s somehow cold and disconcerting letter, giving freedom to seek another Jurisdiction, directed to the Old-Calendarist Greek Church, because being this one in full Communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which was figured out, at that time, to be the one to whom he should direct to in first place.

It should be mentioned that, at that time, the ROCOR didn't have Canonical Communion with any other universal Orthodox Church, being like so since 1917, the date when was founded. She had Communion of Prayers with the Old Calendarist Greek Church that, either, didn't also have Communion with anyone of the universal Orthodox Churches, in other words, they did not celebrated nor took communion at the same Altar.

One may enhance that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, after 90 years, entered last year (2007) in full Communion of Prayers with the Holy Patriarcate of Moscow, being this Communion of Prayers with the largest Orthodox Patriarcate of the world, not forcing to the automatic and immediate Communion of Prayers with all the universal Orthodox Churches; thus, only the Slavonic Tradition Churches recognized the established Communion of Prayers between the Patriarcate of Moscow of and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

All the other Churches of Greek Tradition, Patriarcate of Constantinople; Patriarcate of Jerusalem; Patriarcate of Alexandria; Patriarcate of Antioch; Autocephalous Church of Greece and Autocephalous Church of Cyprus are still not celebrating with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia nor having any relationship with her Hierarchs nor Clergy members.

Returning to the historical itinerary of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal, now on the way to Greece, we will say that Archimandrite John arrives at Athens on June 13, 1978 (civil calendar).

On that very day he was received by Archbishop Auxentios to whom informed he was placing himself under his Jurisdiction, requesting the same Archbishop of Athens for deigning name an Exarch for Portugal.

On June 14 Archbishop Auxentios gathered the Greek Holy Synod during over 3 hours. At the end, the Archbishop called Archimandrite John for informing him that the Synod had decided not to name any Exarch for Portugal but, instead, consecrate the Archimandrite as Vicar Bishop.

Archimandrite John's amazement was enormous but the need of giving an answer to the pastoral in Portugal, made him to accept such responsibility and apostolic incumbency.

They were accompaning Archimandrite John in that trip, Father Tiago (Jacob) (actual Emeritus Archbishop of Coimbra and Aveiro); Priest Athanasius (Dr. António Carlos Carvalho) and his wife, Mrs. Dona Tereza Bobone.
On June 17, Archimandrite Athanasius of the Esphigmenou Monastery, by Archbishop Auxentios of Athens’advice, received as Great Monk Archimandrite John, whose name was changed to Gabriel.

The consecration occured on June 18 in the Catholicon (head church) of the Kapandriti Monastery, by 3 o’clock a.m., in a celebration already begun at the 17th, 7 o’clock p.m., and finished at the 18th, Sunday of Pentecost, by 6 o’clock a.m.

Archbishop Auxentios of Athens presided the Consecration and the Co-consecrators were Metropolitan Kallistos of Corinth, Metropolitan Gerontios of Pireu and Metropolitan Anthonios of Megarides.

On that same day, already in Athens, in the Petroupolis’ Saint John the Theologian Monastery, Archbishop Auxentios informed the – now – Bishop Gabriel he was going to exaltate him to the Metropolitan Dignity, in the Greek Tradition (that is equal to Archbishop, in the Slavonic Tradition, which is the one of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal).

In the departing day, 19, when Metropolitan Gabriel went to farewell, His Beatitude the Archbishop Auxentios of Athens gave him a new document, where he appointed the new Metropolitan as His Exarch for Western Europe.
At the time Metropolitan Gabriel's thought was an expectation one: or he was before the fulfilment of the Will of God, or he was before a perfect madness. His attitude was a waiting one. Everything had elapsed the margin of his plans. Everything had been granted him, when he had requested nothing. And there is to point out an extremely important factor from Metropolitan Gabriel's point of view which, several times, was stressed by him: until his Episcopal Consecration none Greek Church had ever elevated to the Bishopric any Western man converted to the Orthodoxy. Much less a Metropolitan. Much less an Exarch.

Metropolitan Gabriel returned to Portugal with another new priest (father Athanasius) and a deacon (father Jacob), both ordained by the Archbishop of Auxentios of Athens.

The Orthodox Mission of Portugal passed of the level of Exarcate to the one of Diocese; new priests and deacons were ordained; new parishes were created; thousands of new orthodox faithful were received.

Thus, on May 17, 1984, Archimandrite Jacob was consecrated Bishop in Athens by the same Archbishop Auxentios and all the Greek Old Calendarist Holy Synod.

At that same year, on September 30, was consecrated in Lisbon Archimandrite Theodoro, today Archbishop of Evora and Setubal and Chancellor of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal.

Still during the year 1984, it had been granted by Synodal Ordinance, the AUTONOMY of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal, setting Her in the Slavonic Tradition. Archbishop Gabriel was exalted to the dignity of Primate Metropolitan of the Church of Portugal, according to the Slavonic Tradition, with the right of using Panaghia, Enkolpion and Cross, with White Epanikalimaphion, Symbol of the Primates of Local Churches.

On the year 1986, the Archbishop of Athens visited Portugal, in his first and unique time he did it.

Still on that year 1986, on October 16, Metropolitan Gabriel is received by His Excellency the President of the Republic, Dr. Mario Soares.

At 1988, Metropolitan Gabriel and the Synod of the Bishops of the Autonomous Church of Portugal, cut off the Communion of Prayers with the Old Calendarist Greek Church due to reasons of Theological, Disciplinary and Canonical order.

From 1988 to August 1990, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal stayed without any kind of Communion of Prayers with any Church.

On May 1988, Metropolitan Gabriel visits Poland with the intention of entering in Communion of Prayers with the Polish OrthodoxChurch.

On October 1989, by letter, he formalizes that request before Metropolitan Basil of Poland.

On that very month the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal received the visit of Bishop Jeremias of Wroclaw and Dr. Nikolay Koslowsky, in a quick visit but sufficient for changing serious and extremely profitable impressions.

On August 1990 the Orthodox Church of Portugal enters officially in Communion of Prayers with the Autocephous Church of Poland, being INTEGRALLY RESPECTED HER STATUTE OF AUTONOMOUS CHURCH.

At year 1991, on December 14, Archimandrite John is consecrated Bishop of Silves and Portimao.

On 1993, the same Bishop of Silves and Portimao is elevated to the Archbishopric and apointed Metropolitan Vicar; this new Archbishop is today the Primate of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal.

On that same year, 1993, Metropolitan Basil, Primate of Poland comes to visit the local Church of Portugal, after invitated by the same one.

The invitation sent by the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal to the Orthodox Church of Poland, was essentially related to the Commemoration of the 25 years of the Foundation of the Church in Portugal, and consequently, the 25 years of Orthodoxy in the Country.

During the Festivities, Metropolitan Basil of Warsaw bestowed the Commemorative Document – recognition by the Church of Poland – of the 25 years of arduous pastoral work developed by Metropolitan Gabriel and those who cooperated with him in that glorious Mission.

The Polish Primate congratulates with the life of the local Orthodox Church of Portugal.
He is received by the President of the Portuguese Republic and decorated with the Great-Cross of the Order of the Infant and – in a reciprocity act – he decorates the Portuguese President, Dr. Mario Soares, with the Great-Cross of the Religious Order of Saint Mary Magdalene.

All this work leading to the Solemn Audience in the Palace of Belem, was an accomplished work by the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal in narrow collaboration with the State Protocol Services of the Republic Presidency.
The Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal prepared and promoted this meeting between the President of the Portuguese Republic and the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland, by which was dignified the Country in its Higher Representative's Person, the Chief of the State.

Until then, never any Portuguese State Chief had received a foreigner Religious Orthodox Decoration.
The image of a Democratic Country, open to the confessional plurality and respecting the Religious Minorities, came out reinforced and arrived, beyond borders, to Poland, Eastern Country, very distant of Portugal.

All this work of dignification of the Country – in this context – is due to this Local Church.

The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Poland came to Our Country as a guest and in that quality was received and treated.

On February 18, 1997 happens Metropolitan Gabriel's birth into Heaven and the local Orthodox Church of Portugal comes across, probably, for the first time, with her largest challenge: the Succession of her First Primate.
Metropolitan Gabriel, by his Mandate in Spiritual Testament, informs his Will of being buried in the church of the Most Holy Trinity in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercies, in Torres Novas; being the same church still unfinished at the date of his Death, his body is provisorily placed in a borrowed Grave, in Riacho’s cemetery.

His body was transferred, in 1998, in Solemn Procession for the referred – still at the time – Orthodox Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercies.

After Metropolitan Gabriel's death, Archbishop Tiago (Jacob) of Coimbra and Aveiro is assined as the Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan Throne until the Election of the future Metropolitan and Primate of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal.

The Local Council was prepared in the following almost four months.

Since over 1.000 years none Orthodox Council was assembled in the West. The glimpsed task and challenge, were not small.

The Council was gathered at June 1997 and the Council works lasted for three days.
Illustrious Personalities were present, invitated by the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal: a Representative of the Church of Poland, Archbishop Simon of Lodz, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Poland; the President and Secretary of Syndesmos; the Princes Philipe Boiry and Princess Elisabeth of Araucania’s Kingdom and several Ambassadors of the Represented Orthodox Countries in Portugal.

At the Council the new Metropolitan was Elected by Acclamation.

This spontaneous unanimity was a huge responsibility but also of undeniable and evident support to the new Primate of the Church.

One week after the end of the Council, the new Metropolitan was solemnly Enthroned – after the celebration of the Holy Liturgy – by the Primate of Poland, Basil I, who, after being invited by the local (which is, of the country) Orthodox Church, willfully travelled to Portugal for the New Primate's Enthronement.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Basil I, Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland, had an Apostle’s heart and, in the Enthronement Act of the Portuguese Metropolitan, reinforced in an indelible manner, the consolidation of the AUTONOMY of the ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH OF PORTUGAL, that in 1990 had already fully recognized and now was reaffirmed in Her maximum exponent.

In the Enthronement Act, His Beatitude the Metropolitan Basil, imposed to Metropolitan John of Portugal, his own Primate’s Insignia (Enkolpion, Panaghia and Cross), still today recognized by any Primate of no matter which universal Orthodox Church; he bestowed him his own pastoral staff and imposed him his green Manthias (a kind of great mantle like a similar one existing in the Church of Rome). This Manthias with the green color, can only be used by Primates of Autocephalous Churches, like those of Russia (Moscow), Poland, Serbia, etc.

Through this act he wanted to affirm that he was enthroning another equal Primate of himself, with the temporary reach by this act of major love presupposed, presupposes and let infer – as a message – for the universal Orthodox Churches world.

The Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal didn't become by that Act an Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
However, Metropolitan Basil advised the Metropolitan of Portugal and the Orthodox Bishops to live locally as such (as an Autocephalous Church) and when God’s and Men’s time will arrive, the road will be already made easy.

Still in the present days the imposed Manthias to Metropolitan John of Portugal, continues to exhibit Metropolitan Basil’s monogram, due to the affection, love and recognition which he deserves from the Orthodox Church of Portugal.

Two months later this Church was represented in Poland in a pilgrimage to the Orthodox Sanctuary of Grabarka, where Metropolitan John of Portugal – for the last time – celebrated the Holy Liturgy with His Beatitude Metropolitan Basil, Primate of the Polish Orthodox Church and His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Primate of the Autonomous Church of Ukraine.

At the beginning of the following year, on February 11, 1988 occurs the birth into heaven of venerable Metropolitan Basil, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland and Dean of all Primates of the universal Orthodox Churches; there were 32 years he was presiding his Church.

The Metropolitan Primate of Portugal was invited to attend and participate at the Funerals Solemn Liturgical Ceremonies. He was the only Metropolitan Primate present there; from Russia, Patriarcate of Moscow – on behalf of His Holiness the Patriarch Alexis II – had come Metropolitan Pitirim; they were present, naturally, the Locum Tenens, Archbishop Savas of Bialystok (today Metropolitan Primate of Poland) and the remaining Archbishops and Bishops of the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland.

On May of the same year the Primate the Portuguese Church returned to Poland – by invitation of the Elected Metropolitan – for his Enthronement.

They were present, in this Solemnity, many Orthodox Primates and Representatives of all the universal Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches.

During the Holy Liturgy, the Metropolitan Primate of Poland, in the Liturgical moment of the Commemorations for the Chiefs (Primates) of the universal Churches, prayed for Metropolitan John of Portugal, as the Twentieth Head (Primate) of Church.

It is notorious the affection, respect and fraternal love manifested by all the Orthodox Primates towards the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal.

The new Primate of Poland, Metropolitan Sawa, full of fraternal love, invited all the Orthodox Primates and Representatives of all the other Primates of the universal Orthodox Churches who were present at the event, to listen to the Metropolitan Primate of the Autonomous Church of Portugal. The Metropolitan approached the major question of the Local Orthodoxy in Portuguese Lands, which is the consolidation of the same Portuguese Orthodox Church in the Canonical Churches’ womb and the Orthodox Missionary itinerary to travel throught in the Western world.

Still on August of that year (1998) our Metropolitan was invited, once again, to be in Poland, where he participated in the Great Monastery of Suprasl 500 years Celebrations.

In the course of these International Ecclesiastical commitments, this Local Church was growing as living almost a new Pentecost; they were inaugurated on that year the following new parishes: Vigo and Pontevedra, in Spain (Galicia); St. Joseph in Torres Vedras; St. Anthony in Sintra (monastic parish); St. Mark in Marinha Grande; St. Nicholas in Mafra (monastic parish); and St. Damasus in Arganil.

They were also inaugurated the monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God, in Sintra (in a farm named Quinta da Tapada, or Quinta dos Fetos) and the monastery of St. John the Theologian in Torres Novas; and also was increased the monastery of St. Catherine in Mealhada/Buçaco.

In the year 1999, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal, through her Sintra’s Monastery, gave an admirable contribution to the Country taking care during 15 consecutive weeks of the fire surveillance tower of the Mountain of Sintra.

The Natural Park of Cascais/Sintra didn't have nor financial nor human means to turn operative the referred tower, crucial for the combat to the fire that, in the previous year, had already devoured great part of the Mountain. Nor the Institute of Nature Conservation, nor the City Hall of Cascais…

This fire surveillance tower (known as Yellow Stone Tower) had the mission of exercising surveillance as far as Setubal and in the whole adjacent area of the Mountain of Sintra.

Seeing Metropolitan John the lack of means of these institutions and the danger that the Mountain of Sintra was running, the close communities and the eventual irreparable loss for the Country in general, he made available 8 monks, who, in daily shifts, 24 hours a day, for 15 weeks, took care of the surveillance of one of the most beautiful Portuguese mountains and one of the largest properties of the Country and of the Mankind.

Dr. Joao Alves, at the time President of the Directive Comittee of the Natural Park of Cascais/Sintra, manifested a notorious recognition and gratitude towards this work.

The monks of this Church, without technical (nor other) preparation, quickly learned how to handle the very instruments of the tower. They were competent in their surveillance mission, so that they detected fires in the far zone of Setubal, at due time, which allowed firemen to act in useful time.

We are talking about serious readiness – not in the paper; we are talking about effective readiness; readiness in good faith; we are talking about accomplished service, of not remunerated altruistic work; of absolute readiness without the minimum conditions, for even the monks’ meals were supplied by the Monastery, during the long period of the 15 weeks in which they operated in the tower.

It seems important this reference to the monastic readiness of the Orthodox Church of Portugal on behalf of the Country, as a proof of the attention of the local Church towards the important challenges of cooperating with the civil and national society, where is inserted.

At 1999, the Metropolitan of Portugal visited Greece where gathered with His Beatitude Archbishop Cristodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and Primate of the Autocephalous Greek Church and also with His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.

Still in the same year (1999) Metropolitan John visited Russia and was received in a long Audience by His Holiness the Patriarch Alexis I of Moscow where enjoyed of the unspeakable opportunity of approaching with His Holiness important themes such as, for instance, the one of the Orthodox Diaspora, particularly in Western Europe.

At the year 2000, the Orthodox Church of Portugal inaugurated the great church of the Holy Trinity – in the, until then, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercies in Torres Novas – and they were present in the inauguration (by invitation of the Local Church), Representatives of five universal Autocephalous Churches: the Archbishop of Klin, in Representation of Moscow Patriarcate; the Archbishop Serafim of Otawa and all Canada in Representation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of America; the Archbishop Jeremias and Bishop Mirron of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland; and Archimandrite Anthony of Lavardac, in Representation of the Serbian Patriarcate.

On that day over 20.000 faithful were gathered in the Sanctuary.

At the following week Metropolitan John of Portugal departed to Jerusalem, in Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mount Sinai.

The Orthodox faithful accompanying him in the pilgrimage were about 200.

He visited the Holy Sepulchre, the orthodox churches in Bethleem, witnessed several baptisms in Jordan River, he was on the Olive trees mount, in short, at every holy places, blessed by the passing by of the Lord Our Saviour.
The Orthodox Primate of Portugal was also received by His Holiness the Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem, of Blessed Memory, who received Metropolitan John with all affection and love.

Soon after the Portuguese Metropolitan pursues to Egipt, directing to the oldest Christian Monastery of the world, the Monastery of Saint Catherine of Mount Sinai.

He was immediately received by Archbishop Damianos, Primate of the Autonomous Church of Sinai, who warmly and brotherly gave him his Omophorion (piece of priestly and liturgical ornament equivalent to the Pallium in the Church of Rome) with which arose to Sinai, where he prayed, in the church of St. Moses, on the top of the Mountain surrounded by all the Orthodox ones accompanying him in the pilgrimage.

These were unique moments of physical proximity with the ancient Heroes and Holy Martyrs in the Faith, which the Orthodox Church of Portugal will never forget.

Coming back from the Holy Land and encouraged by our ancestors' such examples at the service and love to God, the Metropolitan and the Portuguese Bishops took a more clear glimpse about so much there was still to do, in Church, in this Land of Portugal, planted by God in the Extrem European West.

At the following year, 2001, due to serious reasons of local Pastoral Order, the Orthodox Church of Portugal untied of the Communion of Prayers that for 11 years long maintained with the Orthodox Church of Poland.

Thus on June 2001, one of the Prelates (Bishop Paul) of the local Orthodox Church of Portugal, is invited to visit one of the Dioceses of the Patriarcate of Moscow in Moldovan Republic.

Still on the year 2001, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal founded one more monastery, the Monastery of the Birth of the Mother of God in the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira.

On 2002, Metropolitan John was invited by His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Chisinau, major Prelate of the Moscow Patriarcate, in order to both approach, above all, the preoccupying subject of the Orthodox Diaspora.
On 2006, the Orthodox Catholic Church of Portugal is recognized, by the Portuguese State, with the Statute of Religious Confession.

On 2007 Archbishop Theodoro and Bishop Paulo are invited to attend at the funeral of Bishop Doremidont of Moldovan Republic for a last farewell of a great Orthodox Prelate which was very well known and loved by the Church of Portugal.






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Department of Foreign Relations of the Orthodox Church of Portugal
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