Saturday, February 05, 2005

How an Orthodox Monk Saved the Life of the Young King Hussein

2005.02.04 HNA:
An Orthodox Christian Monk saved the life of a Muslim Prince

In 1951 Father Theodosios Makkos saved the life of Prince Hussein who later became king of Jordan. Father Theodosios was born in Smyrna, Asia Minor, present day Turkey, on July 11, 1913. He became an orphan at an early age and was reared by his grandmother and aunt. He had a burning desire to become a monk and serve the Church in the Holy Land. He came to Palestine in 1928 and remained there until his death, 1991 at the age of 78 years old. He served the Church of Jerusalem with great devotion at various places and positions for 63 years. His last 50 years he was the spiritual father and resident priest at the monastery for women, Saints Mary and
Martha, sisters of Lazarus in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem.

While in Palestine he befriended King Abdullah. In July 1951 the king made a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Omar at Jerusalem with his grandson Prince Hussein. The prince was a very young man at that time. While in Jerusalem King Abdullah was assassinated. Father Theodosios was present, accompanying the king. He immediately took the young prince under his cassock (Rasson) and brought him to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The prince was hidden there. Fr. Theodosios reported the Patriarch about the tragedy of the assassination of King Abdullah and was greatly concerned for the safety and life of the young prince. The Patriarch, before the rebels cut off the phones, placed a call to the Jordanian authorities that the young prince is alive and hidden in a safe place in the Orthodox Patriarchate. The Jordanian government sent appropriate officials to the Patriarchate and took the young prince under the protection of Jordan. For that reason King Hussein always was indebted to the Elder Theodosios for saving his life. He visited often the simple monk Theodosios in his monastery in Bethany. When later the prince became king he continued to have close relations and visit him at the monastery and Fr. Theodosios had an easy access to the king's palace. Fr. Theodosios was able to enter the palace at any time. He helped numerous people through his good word to the king. The king requested the Patriarch to elevate him to the Episcopate.

Elder Theodosios was elected by the synod three times to be elevated but he refused the honor. He chose to remain a simple monk to serve the nuns at the monastery of Martha and Mary. He was well known throughout the region for his love and charity for all people without regard of religion or race. He loved all people without distinction and dedicated to charity and the service of justice. When I was in Jerusalem for the month of January 1986 on a mission of study and dialogue with Jews and Muslims I had the honor to meet Fr. Theodosios. I visited him in the monastery and he told me the story. He also told me that whenever the king greeted him as a sign of respect the king opened his palm for him to kiss, whereas the other people kissed the back of his hand. This is a remarkable story of friendship of a simple monk and a king, a Greek Orthodox Christian and the other a Muslim. Father Theodosios dedicated his entire life to protect the shrines and people who live in Palestine that he loved so much. Especially he was honored for saving the life of the future king from certain death. This is a great example for all people to follow, that is, to love all and protect the life of all regardless of religious affiliation, nationality or race. All people are people of God created in His image.

I was blessed to have known the Blessed Elder Theodosios. All must emulate his example of love and respect for the other.

Rev. Dr. Protopresbyter Professor George C. Papademetriou, Hellenic
College/ Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology