The Halki school of theology was preceded by the Monastery of the Holy Trinity which was founded by Patriarch Photius I (837-866). The Monastery was a place of learning and was known for its huge library. In 1844, Patriarch Germanos IV converted the Monastery (then in ruins) into a school of theology.

The theological school on the island of Halki was inaugurated on September 23, 1844.  Numerous Orthodox scholars, theologians, priests, Bishops, and Patriarchs have graduated from Halki. Some of the more recent graduates include the late Patriarch Parthenios of Alexandria and former Archbishop Iakovos of North America.

The theological facilities include the Chapel of the Holy trinity, sports and recreational institutions, dorms, an infirmary, a hospice, offices, and the school's library with its historic collection of books, journals, and manuscripts. The number of Greeks residing on the island of Halki in the 1950's was around 2,200. The students at Halki included not only a large number of native born Greeks, but Orthodox Christians from around the world thus giving the school an international character.

In 1971, the island of Halki was closed by a Turkish law that forbids private universities from functioning. In 1998, Halki's board of trustees were ordered to disband until international criticism of Ankara's decision persuaded Turkish authorities to reverse their order. In recent years, some concessions toward the Patriarchate have been made by Turkish authorities.

In 1987, the Patriarchate was allowed to rebuild its facilities which were damaged in a fire in 1941. Also, Turkish authorities did not interfere in the Patriarchal elections of 1991. It has been hoped that similar gestures would allow Halki to reopen.

Halki has received international attention in recent years. The New York Times wrote about the school's historic significance in August 2000. Most significantly, President Bill Clinton visited Halki on his visit to Turkey in 1999 and urged Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to allow the reopening of the school.

In October 1998, both houses of the US Congress passed resolutions that supported the reopening of Halki. In addition, human rights groups such as Helsinki Watch support the reopening of Halki.

 


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