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Public Lecture by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Spiritual Head of Worldwide Orthodox Christian Church, Presented in Conjunction with Upcoming Byzantium Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum

Event to Take Place Thursday, March 18 at 2 p.m.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the worldwide Orthodox Christian Church, will deliver the lecture "Byzantine Icons: A Legacy for Humanism" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday, March 18. Presented in conjunction with the upcoming international loan exhibition Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557), the lecture will take place at 2 p.m. in the Museum's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. Reservations, which are required, may be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis by calling (212) 570-3792. The event is free to the public with Museum admission.

Opening on March 23, the landmark exhibition Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) brings together more than 350 masterpieces of Byzantine art from some 30 nations, including Greece, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Italy, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro, and FYR-Macedonia. The exhibition will demonstrate the artistic and cultural importance of this era primarily through the arts of the Orthodox Church and will include sacred icons painted on gold ground, luxuriously embroidered silk textiles, richly gilded metalwork, exquisite miniature mosaic icons of glass, precious metals and gemstones, powerful frescoes, and elaborately decorated manuscripts made for the churches of the Orthodox world and other East Christian faiths. These extraordinary works, some seen rarely and others never before shown outside the churches and monasteries that have preserved them through the past seven centuries, are among the most cherished and important artistic creations of their respective countries. Included in the exhibition are 40 magnificent icons and manuscripts from the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai.

His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch is generously lending to the exhibition a 14th-century processional icon. The work, with its moving image of the joyful Virgin and Child on one side – called the Virgin "Pafsolype" (Cessation of Sorrow) – and the Crucifixion on the reverse, is traveling from the Collection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul for the first time.L

In his statement for the exhibition catalogue, His All Holiness Bartholomew, as he is called, wrote: "The exhibition Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) … undoubtedly will constitute a historical landmark for the Museum and will contribute greatly to enhance the culture of the New World."

In his March 18 lecture at the Metropolitan Museum, he will discuss Byzantine icons as a superb artistic and spiritual achievement, as beautiful expressions not only of the most refined theology, but also of astonishing anthropological ideas. He will place them in the context of an enlightening humanism that is indispensable to the enrichment of society, society, both now and in the future.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a modern apostle of peace and love, is the head of the world's oldest and second-largest Christian-faith community. His All Holiness Bartholomew has led the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians for 13 years, quietly bringing together major religious leaders and intervening in wars and conflicts and the environmental crisis. He is fluent in seven languages - Greek, Turkish, English, Latin, Italian, French, and German.

His All Holiness Bartholomew, who has served as a president of the World Council of Churches, has organized major leaders of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the condemnation of the abuse of religion to justify acts of violence. With His Holiness Pope John Paul II, he has worked toward reconciliation of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

Known throughout the world as the "Green Patriarch," His All Holiness Bartholomew has also taken the lead among religious leaders in efforts to protect the environment, initiating seminars and dialogues to discuss the need for the mobilization of moral and spiritual forces to achieve harmony between humanity and nature.

Honored at the White House by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, in 1997 His All Holiness Bartholomew was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal of the United States Congress, which had previously been awarded to Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 23 through July 4, 2004.

The exhibition is made possible by Alpha Bank.

Sponsorship is also provided by the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation and the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation.

Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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