Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Chrysopigi
Chania, Crete
2021 Calendar
Saint Gregory V

Introduction to 2021 Greek Edition

On this year’s 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, we wish to honour and thank the innumerable people, known and unknown, who sacrificed their lives in the fight for Greek independence. One of the most emblematic leaders among them is the Ethnomartyr and Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Gregory V. His death as a martyr signaled the start of the Revolution.

This calendar is dedicated to Saint Gregory’s heroic sacrifice, since the year 2021 marks 200 years from his martyrdom on 10 April 1821. This year also marks 100 years since his canonization on 8 April 1921. The most important events in his life are briefly recounted here, so that this great Patriarch and his offering to the Greek people might become better known.

The Church praises Saint Gregory V not only as a martyr, but also for his invaluable labours for Hellenism throughout the entire course of his life. Saint Gregory lived in a period marked by events and changes of immense historical significance for the whole world and for Europe. His sharp mind, excellent education, and deep spiritual formation enabled him to broadly grasp the needs and signs of the times. Saint Gregory especially struggled in word and deed to resist the atheistic current of the European Enlightenment. He strove to offer the enslaved Greeks the stepping stones that would lead them to a different enlightenment–one grounded in their centuries-old Greek Orthodox tradition.

As Metropolitan of Smyrna and later as Ecumenical Patriarch, one of Saint Gregory’s primary goals was the development and spread of education. He fought to free the enslaved Greek people from the ethical and spiritual bonds that were holding them down, and to expel the thick darkness that comes with illiteracy and lack of education. It was his unshakable conviction that restoring education was the only possible road to rising up from the fall.

Saint Gregory defended the privileges of the Greek people, built churches, restored the Patriarchate, secured self-governance for the monasteries, translated patristic writings, and urged all in spiritual vigilance and zeal. He built schools in even the furthest villages. By establishing a printing press in Constantinople, he was preparing the soil in which the tree of Greek national freedom could take root and bear fruit. Thus the people would be freed—not only from the tyrant oppressing them—but from every form of tyranny scheming against the freedom of man’s conscience.

Endless discussions have ensued from some of Saint Gregory’s actions, such as when he condemned the Wallachian Uprising. These tend to be guided by ideological biases, and do not seriously consider the historical realities and needs dictating these decisions.

The Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Chrysopigi has close historical and spiritual ties to the Ethnomartyr Gregory V. Buried within the rock foundation of the monastery’s church of the Transfiguration, there is a cave chapel dedicated to the holy Patriarch. The small crypt is illumined by the humble light of oil lamps and candles. It is reminiscent of the Secret School in Moni tou Philosophou in the Peloponnese, where Saint Gregory received his first education as a child.

The students who visit Chrysopigi’s Environmental Education Center also visit this chapel. In its contrite atmosphere the children and young people learn about the Patriarchate and the sealed door at the Phanar where the Patriarch was martyred. They feel the weight of the sacred legacy which all of today’s Greeks have received–an inheritance “taken out of the sacred bones of the Greeks.” They also hear the admonition of poet Aristotle Valaoritis: “Children, do not neglect the noose of the Patriarch!”

The martyrdom of our heroic Greek forebears, such as Patriarch Gregory V, is a witness of faith, hope, and self-awareness in today’s turbulent world. In the words of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:

Whatever is sanctified by ascesis, sacrifice, and prayer, is never dead. Whatever exists for Christ, is not ensnared by the gates of hell. Whatever is created for Christ, does not die. While others lament death, we praise Christ, our hope and resurrection!

Mother Theoxeni
Abbess of the Holy Monastery of Chrysopigi

1. Birth–Education

Saint Gregory V was born in 1746 in Dimitsana, a village in historic Gortynia in the heart of the Peloponnese. His name in the world was George Angelopoulos. His parents, John and Asimina, were poor, yet pious Christians who raised him in ‘the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’

The saint was an exceptionally bright child, eager to read and write from a young age. He received his primary education and the foundation of his life in Christ at the School of Dimitsana, which was then operating within the historic Moni tou Philosophou. His teachers were two monks who had been ordained to the priesthood, Meletios, his uncle and godfather, and Athanasios Rousopoulos.

In 1765, after his schooling in Dimitsana, he spent two years at the School of Athens. There he studied under Dimitrios Voda, a preacher and well-known writer from Ioannina.

In 1767 he visited Symrna, where his uncle served as the sacristan. With his help and support, he studied for five years at an Orthodox Academy known as the Evangelical School of Symrna. Gifted with a brilliant mind, he was distinguished by his diligence, piety, and modest manner.

2. Moni tou Philosophou–School of Dimitsana

Southwest of Dimitsana, a monastery known as “Monastery of the Philosopher” [Moni tou Philosophou] lies in a narrow cave-like hollow in a steep cliff face, 200 meters above the Lousios River. It is the oldest monastery in the Arkadia region and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. The monastery was founded in 963 during the reign of emperor Nikiforos Fokas. It was built by John Lambardopoulos—a scholar from Dimitsana and head secretary of the imperial court–the philosopher who gave the monastery its name.

The Philosopher’s Monastery was Stavropegic from its founding. Tradition tells us that its remote and inaccessible location allowed it to operate as a ‘Secret School’ during the years of the Ottoman occupation, when education was limited or prohibited entirely. This school gradually developed into a well-known academy for training clergy, known as “The School of Dimitsana.” From the end of the 17th century, the School operated within the New Philosopher’s Monastery (1691) and was an important center for the enslaved Greek population to cultivate and preserve their faith and language. Many of its students later became teachers for the Greek people, priests, hierarchs, and even patriarchs. Patriarch Gregory V received his primary education there, as did Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patros a few years later.

From 1764 onwards, the School operating within the New Philosopher’s Monastery was succeeded by another School of Dimitsana, which continued the illustrious tradition in a newly constructed building in the town of Dimitsana. In 1816, the Philosopher’s Monastery again took an active role in supporting the School’s successful operation and growth, contributing both economically and spiritually to ensure its longevity.

3. Serving the Church

As soon as the young George completed his studies in Smyrna, he became a monk at the Monastery of the Transfiguration on Strofades islands. He was tonsured with the name Gregory.

The desire to complete his theological education quickly led him to the island of Patmos. At the renowned Patmiada School, he studied theology and philosophy under Daniel Kerameas and Basil Koutalinos.

The monk Gregory returned to Smyrna in 1775 at the invitation of Metropolitan Procopios of Smyrna. The Metropolitan had such admiration for the young monk’s education and manner, that he ordained him and set him to serve as his archdeacon. Shortly thereafter, Deacon Gregory was ordained to the priesthood and appointed Chancellor of the Metropolis. When Metropolitan Procopios became the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1785, the young Father Gregory was elected, at the request of the clergy and the people, to be the new Metropolitan of Smyrna.

Metropolitan Gregory accomplished extensive pastoral and philanthropic work in Smyrna. He rebuilt churches, reconciled long-standing divisions, and labored for the formation and spiritual growth of the clergy. He methodically worked to expand educational opportunities for the enslaved Greek people by building schools, ensuring their immediate operation, and supporting their students and teachers.

Twelve years later, in 1797, he was elected Ecumenical Patriarch. He ascended the First Throne of Orthodoxy in Constantinople as Gregory V.

4. Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Gregory V emerged as a leader of the Church and the enslaved Greek people under particularly adverse conditions. Alongside political turbulence and shifts in power, the Greek ideology was being shaped by the European Enlightenment. This set the stage on which he would be called to play a key role. His deep spiritual grounding enabled him to discern the signs of the times and their implications, even with the danger of instability lurking on all sides.

Saint Gregory was forced to abandon the Patriarchal throne twice. His patriarchate lasted less than six years over nearly a quarter century.

He served as Ecumenical Patriarch for three brief periods:

May 1797–December 1798
September 1806–September 1808
January 1818–April 1821

His third tenure as Ecumenical Patriarch ended with his death as a martyr.

In every aspect of his life and conduct, Saint Gregory exemplified the man fully devoted to Christ and His Church. He was humble and modest, merciful and generous, simple and content with little, ascetic and devout. He loved the church services, and was always diligent to maintain proper order and conduct in ecclesiastical matters. Saint Gregory had a deep understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and had also received a classical Greek education. He acted with vigor, strength, and stability. In the face of danger and adversity, he remained firm and unwavering in his goals and vision for the enslaved Greek people.

5. First Patriarchate, 1797-1798

Immediately after being installed as Ecumenical Patriarch, Saint Gregory began resolving problems that had plagued the Church for years. He reconstructed and restored the Patriarchal House, which had fallen into disrepair, and arranged for old debts to be paid. With the Ottoman authorities ever eager to control the Patriarchate, he worked resolutely to keep the Church free and self-governing. Saint Gregory settled internal administrative matters, attended to relationships with Orthodox faithful and dealings with Ottoman officials, and made decisions to address long-standing social problems. He built new churches, and arranged for the old and dilapidated temples to be restored, preserved, and maintained.

Seeing the severe illiteracy of the Greek people, Saint Gregory struggled to build up education by constructing new schools and supporting the old ones that were still operating. Under his leadership, the Patriarchal Press was re-established in Constantinople in 1798, to support the pastoral work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With a particular concern for the spiritual rebirth of the enslaved Greek population, he personally translated many writings of the Church Fathers into the common language of the people.

Despite the short duration of his patriarchate, Saint Gregory sent out many patriarchal decrees (tomoi), charters, encyclicals, and letters, which manifest his unwavering faithfulness to the Church’s canons and Tradition. Thus he underlined the significant mission of the Great Church of Christ—the Ecumenical Patriarchate–in those dire times.

6. Disenthronement and Exile

Saint Gregory’s first patriarchate coincided with significant power shifts on the political plane, triggered by Napoleon’s 1797 occupation of the Ionian Islands and the opposition that this provoked among the Great Powers. Early revolutionary rumblings were also beginning among the Greeks. Patriarch Gregory worked to subdue the unrest, but the Sublime Porte did not trust his involvement.

Certain officials, irked by Patriarch Gregory’s role, took advantage of the disorder to slander him to the Sultan as the instigator of the turmoil. This drove the Sultan to order his disenthronement and exile. The Grand Vizier’s directive removing Saint Gregory characterized him as “a violent man [who is] incapable of keeping the people in submission.” After only 19 months on the patriarchal throne, he was exiled in December 1798.

Saint Gregory initially traveled to Halkidona and then spent several months at the Monastery of Panagia Eikosifinissa in Drama. Eventually he landed at Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos. He remained there in prayer and study for six years, offering all a living example with his imitable manner.

At the Sultan’s command, Saint Gregory returned to Constantinople from Mount Athos in September 1806, to re-assume the role of patriarch. His arrival was met with much enthusiasm, the City’s clergy and people gathering at the harbor to welcome him.

7. Second Patriarchate, 1806-1808

During his second patriarchate, Saint Gregory V worked toward the same goals that he had established from the outset of his hierarchy. He cared for the needs of the clergy and church administration, ensured the economic stability of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and attended to social philanthropy and the spiritual life of the monasteries. Again he placed special emphasis on developing education and raising the literacy level of the enslaved Greeks, encouraging people to build schools and requesting help from anyone willing and able to contribute. For this reason, the Patriarchate released a synodical statement on 11 September 1807, noteworthy for its historical significance and impact:

May all take care and have godly, eager zeal to found and reinstate public schools in order that words of faith and Greek lessons may be studied in different regions and in suitable places […] so that your children and the local people and those from foreign places who desire to, may study and grow in knowledge… [So] take care to prepare and appoint teachers who will diligently educate students, instructing them in all knowledge and virtue.

During his second patriarchate, Saint Gregory again managed the major political events in Europe with his characteristic wisdom and perspective. Yet once again, his time on the Ecumenical Throne was brief. His second patriarchate was terminated by violent events, personnel changes within the sultan’s court, and also by malicious schemes which had found favorable soil to take root.

In September 1808, Saint Gregory was exiled to the Monastery of the Transfiguration on the Prinkipos island. A year later, he returned to the Monastery of Iveron on Mount Athos. He embraced the stillness of monastic life by participating in the liturgical services, meditating on the scriptures, teaching with the example of his conduct and manner of living, and inspiring love and respect in all. Patriarch Gregory consecrated the central church of the Esfigmenou Monastery in 1811, and is thus considered to be one of the monastery’s founders.

Yet even from his hermitage and exile, Saint Gregory did not cease following the state of the Church and the activities of the Greek people.

8. Third Patriarchate, 1818-1821

In an atmosphere of great joy and enthusiasm, Patriarch Gregory V ascended the throne in Constantinople for the third time and final time in December 1818.

The periodical Logios Hermis published this proclamation:

We are hastening to announce to all Greeks the good news that His All Holiness Patriarch Gregory has been called back from Mount Athos to the throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. He is enthroned for the third time on this sacred throne, from which he will direct the people entrusted to him to the true path of righteousness… And now, because divine providence has already been looking with most compassionate eyes on our unfortunate [Greek] people for some time, we truly believe that he will remain immovable on this highest throne of the Church, in order to complete the lofty work [of his patriarchate] and to establish the souls of the Orthodox Christians through the light gained by learning the commandments of the Lord.

Though now 72 years old, Saint Gregory continued working resolutely toward the goals that he had carved out from the start: building schools and creating educational opportunities for the Greek people, restructuring the administration of the Church, restoring the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and selfless philanthropic activity.

As their hierarch, Saint Gregory was fully aware of the hopes and desires of the Greek people. As their leader, he was also conscious of the dangers and the heavy burden of his responsibility.

9. “Be courageous as lions, and the blessing of the Lord will strengthen you”

Saint Gregory V played a crucial role in the preparations for the fight for Greek independence. Most historians agree that he knew of the Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends), and systematically participated in its work—albeit wisely, cautiously, and quietly—during the entire duration of his third patriarchate.

Narratives of the Greek Revolution tell us that Patriarch Gregory learned about the founding of the Filiki Eteria while he was still exiled on Mt. Athos. “He showed the liveliest enthusiasm for its spirit [its philosophy, aims, and ideals],” and “prayed from his heart” for it to become a reality. Nevertheless, he never became a formal member. He declined to pledge his membership, saying: “As for me, you have me as I am. My oath would be superfluous, but also dangerous.” He explained that his role as Ecumenical Patriarch prevented him from swearing an oath, and also expressed the reasonable fear that “if my name was ever revealed in the books of the Society, the whole Greek population, still under the rule of the tyrannical authorities, would be endangered. For although I am exiled, I do not cease to be their father and leader.”

There are several documents, encyclicals, and letters emanating from the Ecumenical Patriarchate during 1819 and 1820 which bear Patriarch Gregory’s signature and contributed decisively in coordinating the actions of the Filiki Eteria and in the success of its mission. Thus, secretly and mystically, “the arms against the tyrant were raised for faith and fatherland.”

Among these writings is one important, characteristic letter which Patriarch Gregory sent to Bishop Isaiah of Salona on 28 December 1820. The bishop himself was an active member of the Filiki Eteria and eventually sacrificed his life in the Revolution. This letter reveals that the Patriarch was carefully following the events in Greece and knew of the preparations that were taking place:

I have securely received both of your precious letters through the good patriot, Captain Fountas from Galaxeidi, and have read your valuable words. There is great need, brother, for confidentiality and caution in every action. Because the days are evil and even among the patriots there is a portion of malicious leaven, from which you must protect yourselves as from a sickly and contagious sheep. Many of them scheme evil, and this is from the crime of love for money.

Thus having chosen the good portion, inform me through trustworthy patriots of all things that must be kept secret. The Galaxeidians, whom you constantly send to me, work carefully, and as far as I know it is impossible for even the smallest word to escape their lips, even if all riches would be set before them. Besides your own [letters], they also bring me letters from the brothers in the Morea [Peloponnese].

The actions of Papa Andrea are patriotic, for those who know him, but may be condemned by those who do not. In secret, defend him, but in public, pretend ignorance. And on occasion, censor him in private in front of the pious brothers and others. Calm the vizier with words and promises, but don’t let him be handed to the lion’s mouth.

Embrace the brave brothers with my blessings, urging them in secrecy for the fear of the Jews. May they be courageous as lions and the blessings of the Lord will strengthen them, for truly we are very close to the Savior’s Pascha [the day of Liberation]. I bestow my humble prayers upon your head, brother Isaiah. Till and labor tirelessly, and the Most-High [God] will grant you abundant fruits.

In Constantinople,
28 December 1820

10. “It is our duty to die for the salvation of all”

By the end of 1820, rumors presaged war from the North. Patriarch Gregory’s supporters tried to persuade him to move away from Constantinople. He responded courageously: “As to what may happen to me, may the Lord’s will be done. For He said: ‘The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.’”

When reports of the outbreak of the Wallachian Uprising on 22 February 1821 reached Constantinople, the Sultan was overcome by ferocious rage. Mass persecution of the Christians began immediately: imprisonments, murders, assassinations. Among those arrested were many hierarchs who suffered and died as martyrs.

When the Holy and Sacred Synod convened, Metropolitan Gregory of Derkoi proposed that the Patriarch himself and the hierarchs of the Synod move to the Peloponnese to become leaders of the Revolution, thus escaping the danger in Constantinople. Patriarch Gregory replied:

Both for me, as the head of the Greek people, and for you, as the Synod, we must die for the salvation of all. Our death would give Christianity the right to defend the [Greek] population against the tyrant. But if we go to encourage the Revolution, then we justify the sultan in his decision to exterminate the whole Greek population… Our days are numbered; may the Lord’s will be done, for He has called us to this great and terrible trial, which we have a duty to lighten with our own blood. I know what awaits us; it has already been predetermined. Let us prepare, with faith and hope, to drink this cup which has been prepared for us, entreating God for His will to be done, but also to strengthen us in this inevitable final fight. For this is for the benefit of the Greek people!

11. A Time of Anticipation

News of the Wallachian uprising reached Constantinople on 1 March 1821 and incited upheaval in the Sublime Porte. Sultan Mahmud II asked the chief religious leader of the Ottoman Empire to give an official order (fatwa, or in Turkish, fetva) for a general massacre of all the Greeks in Constantinople, thus proclaiming a religious war against the Christians. The massacre, the Sultan declared, could be revoked only under the strict condition that the Ecumenical Patriarch renounce the Revolution and excommunicate all involved.

Patriarch Gregory was the leader of a committee of 72 representatives of the Romioi in Constantinople—bishops, priests, leaders, merchants, and craftsmen—most of whom were already involved in revolutionary activity. Yet he also felt the impending threat of a massacre of the entire Greek population in Constantinople. Under these difficult conditions, he was forced to excommunicate the revolutionaries on 20 March 1821.

To this day, many differing evaluations have been offered concerning this act of excommunication. In any case, it was imperative and unavoidable. As a prudent spiritual shepherd and leader of the Greek people, Patriarch Gregory was fully aware that opposing the Sultan would cause greater consequences for his flock. He himself had already chosen the road of sacrifice. Nevertheless he gave the order of excommunication, which caused him indescribable grief and pain, in order to separate the non-combatant population from the initiators of the Revolution. In this way, he tried to curb the atrocities that were already happening, to bridle the infuriated Ottomans, and—at least temporarily—to save the powerless Greek civilians from an impending massacre.

12. Caught in Catastrophe

Messages arriving at the Sublime Porte from Wallachia, Moldavia, and Greece announced the growth of the Revolution and further infuriated the Ottomans and their leaders. A wave of intense persecution began and violent men from the East flooded into Constantinople, committing horrific acts of murder, plunder, and vandalism. A reign of terror was spreading. Furthermore, Russia and all the European Powers hurried to renounce the Greek Revolution. Patriarch Gregory found himself in a tight spot that was becoming ever narrower.

Many friends of the Patriarchate, eminent officials, and ambassadors of foreign countries—foreseeing that the patriarch was in great danger as the Christian leader—urged him to abandon Constantinople to save himself. They even provided the means for his departure.

Patriarch Gregory refused. He remained in his place, faithful to his duty, together with his people. He did not consider his own life to be of any special value. Rather, he anticipated the great impact of his death. He accepted martyrdom with wholehearted certainty that it would be an offering in his mission as a hierarch. His death would be a sacrifice to benefit the enslaved Greek people, whom he had served throughout his entire life with diligence, vision, and self-denial.

13. ”I am Patriarch to save my people”

Do not push me to leave, do not desire my deliverance. The hour of my departure would mark the onset of the massacre, the hour of swords in Constantinople and in the rest of the Christian world. What a beautiful thing you are asking me to do! Disguised with some sheepskin on my back, to flee in the boats or to be secured in a friendly foreign embassy [and] to hear on the roads the orphans of my People cry in anguish at the hands of the executioner… I am Patriarch to save my people, not to throw them to the knives of Janissaries. My death will possibly be of more benefit than I could have even hoped my life to be. The foreign kings will be shaken at the injustice of my death; and perhaps they will not look indifferently upon the insulting of their [own Christian] faith in my person, and wherever there are armed men, Greeks, they will fight with the desperation of war which often grants victory. I am certain!

Have a little patience no matter what happens to me. Today, on Palm Sunday, let us sit and eat of the fish of the seashore and a little later, perhaps within this very week, let them [too] eat of us … No, I will not serve as a laughingstock of the living and be found walking with deacons and archons on the roads of Odessa, of the Ionian Islands, or of Ancona, so that children may point their fingers: “Look, the murderer Patriarch!” If my Nation is delivered and triumphant, I will be repaid, I hope, with the incense of honor and praise for having done my duty. […] I go wherever my conviction compels me to, wherever I am called and urged to go by the great destiny of the Greek people and by our heavenly God, who knows all divine and human things.

14. Pascha, 10 April 1821

The slaughters, plunders, and hangings of Christians intensified during Holy Week of 1821. The Ottomans had already decided on Patriarch Gregory’s murder. He remained strong and prayerful to his end.

On the night of the Resurrection, Saint Gregory served his final Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church. An eyewitness tells us that Patriarch “Gregory was perhaps never more alive and had never served a liturgy that was more radiant, more devout, more powerful, and more lengthy. His eyes were luminous with a divine splendor.” During the Preparatory Rites for the Liturgy, he prayed for all people—friends, those who had caused him sorrow, the living, and the departed.

On 10 April 1821, the day of Pascha, the venerable 75-year-old patriarch was arrested, removed from the Patriarchal throne, tortured, humiliated, and imprisoned.

The Synaxarion tells the story:

His arrestors shut him in the Bostantzipasi prison. There some of the Turks asked him various questions regarding the leaders of the Revolution, without receiving an answer. Others gave him something to eat, fearing that perhaps his body, weakened by the fast, would not withstand until they could carry out the death sentence. Others pushed him to accept Islam, in order to be spared from the tortures and death sentence. This last suggestion upset the Patriarch, who asked them to stop speaking such insulting words against the Patriarch of the Christians, for he would die as he lived, without betraying his crucified Lord. Finally he said to those who were showing him various instruments of torture ready and at hand, “Do your job; the Patriarch of the Christians dies a Christian!”

15. “They have brought the Patriarch to kill him!”

When Gregory was removed from the prison, with his hands tied behind him and bidding his own farewell, he boarded the boat accompanied by the guard Katsibasi and an Ethiopian executioner. Many boats filled with soldiers and armed Turks surrounded the vessel transporting the Patriarch, raising a din which pierced the air. The Golden Horn was filled with boats and the groan of the oars roared terribly. Around 2 p.m. the vessel approached the dock of the Phanar. As soon as the Patriarch disembarked and stepped onto that blood-stained ground, he knelt and, looking intently toward heaven and praying silently, he stretched his neck toward the executioner, for he thought that it was there that he would be beheaded. But with kicks and swears the guard pulled him up, saying that this was not the place of his sentence, and guiding him to a nearby shop, he ran to find a rope. Returning in half an hour, he guided the victim toward the Patriarchate. Because the road was uphill and the elderly Patriarch, utterly beaten down by the hardships, was not able to walk, two Turkish soldiers supported him; passing thus through the mob of Turks and Jews that had filled the surrounding area, they reached the front gate of the Patriarchate. In the Greek homes nearby and within the Patriarchate wailing voices could be heard: “They have brought the Patriarch to kill him!”

From the Synaxarion of Patriarch Gregory V

16. On the Gallows

The Patriarchate has three external [entrance] doors: the one on the left faces east and leads to the courtyard of the church; the one on the right faces west towards the courtyard of the patriarchal apartments; and the third, the middle one, which faces south and towards the road, leads to the clergy’s quarters; it was this third door that was to be the appointed place for the hanging of the Patriarch. The executioner spent over an hour preparing the gallows. The Patriarch stood during those tragic moments praying silently with his head turned toward his right shoulder. He suffered this internal martyrdom untroubled, with Christian calmness. The executioner dragged him at last toward the gallows and stripped him of his enkolpion, outer cassock, prayer rope, and whatever else he could find on him. As the Turkish officer uttered various insults and swears toward the Patriarch for being a revolutionary, a strong porter hoisted the Patriarch onto his shoulders toward the executioner’s ladder; when he had wrapped the noose around his neck, he left him in midair, amidst both the wild shouts of Turks and Jews and the silent sighs of pain and tears of the unseen Christian observers, who were watching this heart-rending event from the side-streets or the windows. The Patriarch’s kalimafki fell from him as his body flailed, but it was placed back on his head by the executioner, at the moment when the Hieromartyr was strangled by the noose. He breathed his last around 3 p.m. on the Sunday of Pascha. Turks and Jews threw stones at the martyr’s body, speaking blasphemies and mockery. [His body] remained hanging on the gallows at the sultan’s command for three full days, with the order of the Patriarch’s death sentence attached to his chest.

From the Synaxarion of Patriarch Gregory V

17. “Thus he is hanged, to bring the rest to their senses”

The decree of his death sentence was placed on the Patriarch’s body. It read:

This infidel patriarch of the Greeks… by reason of the innate corruption of his heart, not only did not warn nor punish those who were deceived [the revolutionaries], but from what it seems he too was, as a leader, a secret participant in the Revolution… instead of subduing the traitors and teaching them by his own example to return to their duties, this infidel became the chief instigator of all the uprisings that have occurred. We have been informed that he was born in the Peloponnese, and that he shares the guilt of all the disorder, which the slaves who have been misled have carried out in the region of Kalavryta… And because we have been widely assured of his treachery, a treachery not only to the destruction of the Sublime Porte, but also to the grave detriment of his own people, it was necessary to remove this man from the face of the earth and thus he is hanged to bring to rest to their senses.

The same day—Pascha 1821—several other hierarchs were seized and imprisoned: Metropolitan Evgenios of Aghialos, Metropolitan Dionysios of Ephesus, Metropolitan Athanasios of Nikomedia, Metropolitan Gregory of Derkoi, Metropolitan Joseph of Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Dorotheos of Adrianoupolis, and Metropolitan Ioannikios of Tyrnovon. They were transported to various locations in Constantinople, where they were later hanged.

By this point, the Revolution had already broken out in the Peloponnese and nothing could restrain the Sultan’s rage. Innumerable Christians were tortured and killed in the persecutions which were launched across all of Constantinople, in Adrianoupolis, in Smyrna, and in other places.

18. “The doctrine of Greece’s independence was written with the blood of Patriarch Gregory V”

When they hanged Patriarch Gregory, the Ottomans were not simply punishing him as an instigator of the Revolution. Their goal was to orphan the Greek nation and shake the revolutionaries’ morale. In reality the opposite happened, just as Patriarch Gregory had foretold before his death. As historian and author George Tertsetis wrote, “on the blade of the Greek sword, the name of the patriarch was written, and it slashed [the enemies].” The Revolution had gained yet another reason for the Greeks to fight: to vindicate the martyrdom of their Patriarch.

Patriarch Gregory’s death assumed immense significance in the hearts of all the Greek people of the time, as the words spoken by Spyridon Trikoupis to the attorney of the Second National Assembly (1862) indicate:

Independence was not first written in the Constitution of 1843, but in 1821. And do you want me to tell you on which day? It was written on that day that the great shepherd of the Christian people emerged from the holy of holies and was hanged, both sanctifying and being sanctified, still eating the holy bread and still drinking the sacred blood of the Lord. It was on that day that the doctrine of independence was written; and do you want me to tell you in what [ink] it was written? In the blood of Patriarch Gregory V! Is it then possible for such a document, gentlemen, to be blotted out?

19. Rescuing his Relics

Three days after the Patriarch Gregory was hanged, Jews purchased his honorable body. They dragged it through the streets of Constantinople in disgrace. Then tying it to three large stones, with great difficulty they threw it into the Golden Horn.

By divine providence his holy body was freed from the stones and remained afloat for several days, being carried by the waves. On the afternoon of Bright Saturday—16 April—it was spotted by Marinos Sklavos, the captain of the Greek ship The Saint Nicholas. Bearing a Russian flag, the ship was about to set out for Odessa. With great care and reverence, the body was pulled from the water. The next day the ship departed for Odessa, where it arrived on 11 May. Patriarch Gregory’s body had remained whole and incorrupt during the entire journey.

A month later, on 16 June, amidst a large and reverent crowd, Saint Gregory’s body was entombed in the Greek Church of the Holy Trinity in Odessa. From that time the Greeks, Ukrainians, and Russians of Odessa have honored the patriarch as a Hieromartyr.

20. Translation of his holy relics–Canonization

In April 1871, Saint Gregory’s holy relics were moved from the church of the Holy Trinity in Odessa to Athens.

The Greek capital gave a moving, public welcome to the martyr of the Church and Nation. The festal words of welcome attribute that “as he draws near, even though dead, all of the Greek land is shaking and trembling and the people of the Greek Kingdom’s capital [Athens] has come to welcome him on foot and bareheaded… Rejoice, Greeks and all Hellenes, for today [you] free [people] are blessed to freely welcome your venerable and most famous leader, who fell as a greatly mourned victim for the resurrection of the Greek nation!”[1]

The next year, on 25 March 1872, the University of Athens honored Patriarch Gregory with a magnificent statue, which stands to the right of the University’s entrance. It was created by sculptor George Fytalis and sponsored by the national benefactor George Averof. In the momentous unveiling ceremony, poet Aristotle Valaoritis recited his famed poem written in honor of the holy martyr Patriarch Gregory V.

100 years after his martyrdom, on 8 April 1921, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece officially ranked Patriarch Gregory V among the saints of the Orthodox Church.

From 1871 until the present, Saint Gregory’s holy relics are housed at the Cathedral of the Holy Metropolis of Athens.

21. “Do not forget the noose, children, of the Patriarch!”

How do you stare at us unmoving?… Where does your thought run,
your winged dreams?… Why upon your forehead
does there not sprout, elder, as many golden rays
as give us your vision of consolations and hopes?…
Why on your heavenly lips does there not softly glow,
Father, a smile?… How does it not break
the heart within your chest and how did your eyelid
not even shed one tear, neither has it shone your light?…

All around you the mountains and the thickets are decorated
greeting their savior… The wild sea
from afar knew you and with foamy mouth
she kisses, my sweet father, the free soil
that holds you in its bowels… She remembers the day,
when she also in her bosom, like a nursing mother,
my father, received you… She remembers on your neck
the bloody noose, and on your holy face
the disgraceful slaps… the shriek… the yearning…
the trampleof the mob… She remembers the uproar…
the rock which they hung on you… the nakedness of your dead body…
the fearful resurfacing of your sinking…
A hunted bird had come into sight from afar
like a cloud brought by the north and dressed in black,
he darkened the sky with his wide wings,
and with a voice that cruelly split his bowels,
he cried out and thundered… “Strike, chief warriors!…
From coast to coast the uproar… They are hanging the Patriarch!”…
With these… with these bones, these crumbs, these ashes
we built, my father, our poor nest,
and there the myrtle sprouted and our branches
which are blooming around you… How your fingers
unmoving do not bless your blackened children?…
What do you want, O Elder, from us?… Do you not feel with your one glance
how many hearts will be set aflame and from within you
how much life will sprout forth? How do you not awaken, Father?…
The marble remains silent… And it will still remain
who knows how long his dead mouth be speechless…
He sleeps and dreams…and then he will wake,
when in the forests, in the mountains, in the oceans thunder
our awesome proclamation… “Strike, chief warriors!…
Do not forget the noose, children, of the Patriarch!”…

Aristotle Valaoritis
The statue of the venerable Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople (excerpt)

22. The Sealed Door

The main entrance of the Patriarchate, where Patriarch Gregory was hanged, has remained closed and sealed to this day as a sign of honor and reverence for his sacrifice. Every year on 10 April–the day of his martyrdom—Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew goes to pray and light a candle at this sealed door in honor of his holy predecessor.

Before going down to the Church today, I passed by, as was my duty, and laid flowers at the closed Gate, the spot of the martyrdom of my predecessor, the Holy Patriarch Gregory V. I lit a candle, asking for his blessing and his prayers for this great Monastery of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and for all of us who have God’s blessing to serve in it. I also asked for his blessing for all the Orthodox around the world, since the prayers of such a great martyr and Patriarch are most certainly heard by God. I prayed that his martyrdom would not go in vain for our people and for our Faith. I ask for his blessing for the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all the people, churches, nations, and ethnicities of the world. I ask his blessing in continuing my service as his unworthy successor upon the Ecumenical Throne today and for his intercession before the Lord for our faithful, and especially for the Greek population here in Constantinople which has dwindled so much, has been wronged so much, has been humbled so much…”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

23. “Nothing is lost…”

For seventeen centuries now the Queen of Cities—Constantinople—has been the beating heart of Orthodoxy. It is a place of history and remembrance, spiritual witness and martyrdom, laborious struggle and hope. “The City,” as it is known in Greek, is the home of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Seated at the Phanar, it serves as the spiritual center of the Orthodox Church worldwide and as a universal symbol of unity throughout the centuries. With a sense of deep responsibility, the Ecumenical Patriarchate labors to protect and spread the Orthodox faith, exactly as it has been handed down from apostolic times.

The Primate of the Great Church of Christ today, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, has become internationally known for his charismatic presence, his enlightened word, and his multifaceted actions promoting religious freedom, human rights, and environmental protection.

On his shoulders, the patriarch bears the weight of the ‘universe’ (oecumene). With sensitivity and compassion he visits the tragedies of all humanity and the Romioi. He struggles within a reality of relentless opposition to save the treasures of Greek heritage, to protect its values and ideals unchanged, and to preserve the unity of the Orthodox Church. In this way the wonders of our faith are proclaimed to the ends of the earth and the future of the Greek nation is being written, which is nursed from its mother and sustainer: the Church.

Never in history has one small dot on the geographical map ever given meaning to the universal spiritual map in quite the same way as the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At all times those who have died in Christ judge those who think that they are living with their eternal vitality. Time, corruption, or the ruins, have never defeated the Phanar, for it has never measured its strength with the meter of the powerful of this world, with the meter of the strong of this earth. Here nothing is ruined, nothing is lost; in this place of silence, of fortitude, of patience, of unceasing prayer and of certitude that the Lord and those alive in him live…

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

24. The Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia—that majestic monument of Christian civilization throughout the centuries and an architectural representation of Christ’s deliverance of the human race and of all of creation—belongs to all mankind. This monument, in its well-spoken silence, remains to this day universal and undefeated by the corruption of time. [It] proclaims the magnificence which Christian art can attain whenever it is the radiant outpouring of living and tangible communion with the living God, Who is the source of wisdom and every good thing.

First came the conversion of the Great Church [Hagia Sophia] into a mosque. And shortly after the beauty of the Chora Monastery was also transformed into a mosque. As if there were not already enough mosques in Constantinople, as if there is need for more places of worship of the believers of this local religion, those in authority have hurried to make these decisions and actions, which insult us, they offend our identity, our history, our culture. And we patiently endure… and we pray…

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

25. The Holy Monastery of Chrysopigi

The Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring [Zoodochos Pege], or Chrysopigi, was founded as a men’s monastery during the 16th century. Throughout its history, including years of war and deprivation, it existed as a center of spiritual life and social support. In 1976 the first three sisters arrived at the monastery, one being the Abbess of blessed memory, Gerontissa Theosemni († 2000). The monastery was restored and today Chrysopigi continues its long-standing monastic tradition. Liturgical worship is alive in the cycle of daily services, and the sisters of the community cultivate the monastery lands using organic farming methods and ply the traditional monastic crafts: icon and fresco painting, ecclesiastical sewing and embroidery, stone carving, book publishing, book binding, beekeeping, candle making, the production of incense and hand-made soap, etc. Many pilgrims from Greece and all around the world flock to the monastery and its miraculous icon of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring, seeking spiritual strength and meaning in their lives.

The Monastery of Chrysopigi is historically and spiritually connected to Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V. In 1797, during his first patriarchate, he granted a Patriarchal Charter (sigillum) which confirms and preserves the monastery’s rights and status as a Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery. This Charter bears Saint Gregory’s signature and is preserved at the monastery today.

This unique spiritual bond between the Ethnomartyr Patriarch and the sisterhood of Chrysopigi continues today. Near Saint Gregory’s birthplace in Gortynia, Chrysopigi has a metochion dedicated to the Holy Unmercinary Healers. Another expression of the sisterhood’s deep respect for the saint is the chapel built in his honor in the foundation of the central church of the Transfiguration. It is currently the only church in Crete dedicated to Saint Gregory V.

On 2 September 2012, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I consecrated the new church of the Transfiguration. This joyous event confirmed the longstanding bond between the Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Chrysopigi and the Great Church of Christ.