From humble roots

When he was born Christos Paraskevaidis in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, in 1939, one of two sons of a food importer and devout mother, there was little to suggest that Christodoulos would prove to be one of Greece’s most controversial archbishops. His decade at the helm of the Church of Greece was rarely dull and will be remembered for several key moments, such as when he led the campaign in 2001 to keep religious persuasion on national identity cards. His rapprochement with the Catholic Church in the following years was also of enormous importance, before a series of scandals that began in 2004 tarnished his image. Despite an apparent fascination with the church as a child first in Xanthi and then in the crowded Athens neighborhood of Kypseli, Christodoulos actually studied law, graduating from Athens Law School in 1962. He went on to study theology and obtained his degree five years later. He was appointed secretary to the Holy Synod in 1967 and served there throughout the military dictatorship, until 1974, when he became Bishop of Dimitrias, with his base in Volos, central Greece. He remained there until being elected archbishop on April 29, 1998.