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The Silent School


A Retrospective of the History of the Holy Theological School of Halki

Duration: 50’, Ratio: 4/3, 16/9, Versions: English, Greek
Directed by: Irini Sarioglou & Marina L. Leontari Written by: Irini Sarioglou
Production: Hellenic History Foundation & ERT
International Distribution: ICTV

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Situated on the Turkish island of Halki in the Sea of Marmara, the Halki Seminary, or « Theological School of Halki” was founded on October 1st, 1844 as the main school of Theology of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, an important pillar of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This Church had separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the Great Schism of 1054 AD. During the latter half of the 19th Century, and the earlier part of the 20th Century, the Halki Seminary had become the most prestigious and influential higher education school for the orthodox elite, with close to 1000 graduates over its long history.

But in 1971, parts of the Private University Law were ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Turkey: all private institutions of higher education either became part of state universities or closed down. Since that moment, the School is silent. As it is located on the site of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, the premises of the school continue to be maintained by the monastery and are used today to host conferences. An international campaign is under way to support the re-opening of the School as an expression of freedom of religion or belief in Turkey.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the graduation of his All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I from the Halki Seminary, the Hellenic History Foundation was given the honor of making, in collaboration with Greek and Turkish historians, a documentary on the history of « Halki’s Theological School » and its most remarkable events throughout the centuries. By tracing the historical background of the School, through the accounts of some of its graduates and academic staff, we are taken on a journey through Kalymnos, Thessaloniki, Athens, Istanbul and Heybeliada (Halki).