Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I died in Istanbul, Turkey on July 7, 1972 at age 86.
A giant in global Orthodoxy, Athenagoras first went to the United States to unite a fractured group of politically-opposed communities into one archdiocese.
The patriarch is widely-remembered for making a historical agreement with Pope Paul VI in 1965 to revoke the mutual excommunication decrees of 1054 between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The meeting marked the first between leaders of the split church since the original East-West Schism almost 1,000 years prior.
Another interesting fact: When Athenagoras was elected Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman offered his Presidential airplane to Athenagoras to fly from America to Istanbul.
Associated Press archival footage from the funeral of Patriarch Athenagoras
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