|St. Gregory Kallides of Herakleia (Feast Day - July 25 and October 20)|
By Anthony Patrikios
Saint Gregory (Kallides) was born on the 24th of January in 1844 from devout parents, John and Euphrosyne, in Kumbos (today's Kumbag) of the province of Herakleia in Eastern Thrace. From a young age he showed an inclination towards the priesthood and was thus recruited to serve under the Metropolitan of Selybria and later Serres, Meletios Theophilides of Thessaloniki, from whom he received the first degree of the priesthood on 26 February 1862. He studied diligently in the brilliant schools of Serres, under the direction of John Pandazidis, who later became a professor of the University, and completed his studies at Rizarios School and the Theological School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
In Athens Metropolitan Theophilos Vlachopapadopoulos (1862-1873) elevated him to be his Archdeacon, in appreciation of his personality and rare merit. Thus he took part in the doxology for the arrival of the then bride Queen Olga and later at the baptism of the successor Constantine.
Around the year 1873 Gregory was a Scholarch in Raidesto (today's Tekirdag), and in 1874 he was the chancellor of Metropolitan Panaretos of Herakleia and a preacher, until he received the third degree of the priesthood and named Bishop of Nazianzus on 24 March 1875. As an auxiliary bishop of the Metropolitan of Herakleia, with great prudence, together with Greek political leaders, he preserved the city of Raidesto from the raid of 45,000 Circassians during the Russo-Turkish War, until they welcomed the Russians.
During the years of the Bulgarian Exarchate, he was sent by the Patriarchate to Adrianople as exarch. After the violence there against Metropolitan Dionysios V, the later Ecumenical Patriarch (1887-1891), he represented him since he was absent while hospitalized in Constantinople.
After a three-month stay in Adrianople, he was elected on 12 May 1879 to be the Metropolitan of Trebizond by Patriarch Joachim III the grandiose during his first patriarchate.
Gregory Kallides pastored the province of Trebizond for five years and was a worthy successor of his predecessors, who graced this metropolitan throne of the Komnenoi and Trebizond. From the day of his enthronement he initiated the work to care for his flock from the attacks of Turkish immigrant neighbors.
Similarly, he saw to the reduction of the heavy taxation on Christians. He restored peace and harmony among his flock and rewrote the community regulations of the Roman Orthodox community. With the help of the great benefactors Theophylaktos and Phokionos Kiousis, he created a lucrative income from estates which covered the budget of the schools. For these actions he was congratulated by the Patriarch with a personal letter on June 13, 1880.
During his prelacy in Trebizond in 1879, the Great Church, having received the exarchies of the three Stavropegic Monasteries of Soumela, Vazelon and Peristereota, made them subject to the direct administration of the Metropolis of Trebizond, in hopes of better strengthening and prosperity among Christians.
In Trebizond Gregory Kallides was commissioned by the Great Church, with a synodal letter dated 22 October 1879 by Patriarch Joachim III, the supervisory task of these three Stavropegic Monasteries, which he undertook with visits on regular intervals. But from April of 1886, the supervision of Christians in the region returned back to Soumela Monastery.
Gregory Kallides of Trebizond, who was elected to the throne of the most-holy Metropolis of Thessaloniki, was succeeded by Gregory III of Lesvos who was transferred from being Bishop of Philippopolis. The enthronement of Metropolitan Gregory in Thessaloniki took place on 20 March 1885 amidst a climate of enthusiasm.
During the prelacy of Gregory Kallides, he found himself to be in the climax of intense conflict among the community of Thessaloniki in regards to the election of local leaders of the city. At that time wealthy union workers began to weaken, who had claimed an incontestable election to the council of elders and the delegation of the community. The powerful members of institutions in the region were merchants, landowners, lawyers and doctors. The leaders of the union workers sought for a change in the provisions of the electoral process, which no longer favored them. In this way the known battles of the 1880's broke out which resulted in the transfer of Metropolitan Gregory Kallides. However, community conflicts had begun long before the period of the prelacy of Gregory, and lasted several years after, thus becoming a cause to transfer two further Metropolitans, Kallinikos Photiadis (1878-1883) and Athanasios Megaklis (1893-1900).
S. Ioannides, D. Vlatsis and K. Sfikas were union representatives, the weakest class in most of the city, and they supported Metropolitan Gregory, which resulted in him being slandered to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1888 opposing factions circulated anonymous tabloid libel mawkish charges against Metropolitan Gregory, shortly before a trial was to take place in Constantinople to clarify the situation.
On April 29, 1889 the Ecumenical Patriarchate acquitted the blameless Metropolitan Gregory in a celebratory fashion. The accusers did not attend any trial. The representatives of the accusers were T. Georgiadis, G. Gravaris and T. Papageorgios. Here we should note that Alfred Abbott, a descendent of an old and wealthy family, and Stavros Hatzilazaros, had sided with the Metropolitan in favor of the poor portions of the union workers.
After his acquittal, Metropolitan Gregory was vindicated and remained in Constantinople, not wanting to return to Thessaloniki, thus surrendering himself to the availability of the Great Church, by which he was elected Metropolitan of Ioannina on September 28, 1889.
As Metropolitan of Ioannina he was elected by merit to be a member of the Synod, so he returned to Constantinople in 1892. In his place he left his chancellor Panaretos, who was then elected successively as the bishop of Nazianzus and the chorepiscopos of Tatavla.
In the Queen City, Gregory served as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Printing Press of the Patriarchate, Chairman of the Management Committee of Monastic Estates and a member of the Tax Office of the Sacred Theological School. Particularly notable were his actions as Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Patriarchate. He returned once again to Ioannina in May of 1894.
During the war of 1897, together with the general consuls, he protected the city of Ioannina from the Turks, and was honored by the king-to-be Crown Prince Constantine with the medal of the High Commander of the Savior Christ, while at the same time receiving from the Emperor of Russia the Grand Cross of Saint Anna and from the ruler of Montenegro the Grand Cross of Daniel. We should note here that his value as a Hierarch was recognized by the Turkish side earlier, when he was honored by the Sultan in November of 1885 with the medal of the Osmanieh 2nd Class. He served in the Synod under Patriarch Neophytos VIII, Constantine V and Joachim III and became Chairman of the National Council, at which time he received the Serbian Grand Cross of Saint Savvas.
On May 22nd of the year 1902 Patriarch Joachim III elevated Gregory to the old Metropolis of Herakleia and Raidesto, in the place of Jerome, in order for Sophronios of Nicaea to be elected for Ioannina. The other candidates for the Metropolis of Herakleia were Anthimos of Amaseia and Constantine of Berroia. The former Metropolitan of Herakleia, Jerome, was transferred again to the Metropolis of Nicaea.
To oversee his provinces outside the areas of Raidesto and Harioupolis he appointed bishops: Bishop Germanos of Nazianzus in the sections of Herakleia and Tyroloi and Bishop Philotheos of Harioupolis in the sections of Kessani, Malgaron and Makras Gephyras.
The Church of Herakleia, which was founded by the first-called Apostle Andrew, was the capital Metropolis in Thrace, and Byzantium, later named Constantinople, belonged to this Diocese. At the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon in 451, the Church of Constantinople was elevated to New Rome. However, the Metropolis of Herakleia reserved the right to hand over the patriarchal staff to each Ecumenical Patriarch.
In the early years of his prelacy in the Metropolis of Herakleia, he transferred and delivered to a Hungarian delegation the bones of the prince of Transylvania, Francis II Rakoczi, and other Hungarian exiles from the beginning of the eighteenth century after the Treaty of Karlowitz who were buried on the grounds of Sancta Maria de Misericordia (Gr. Panagia of Reumatokrateiras). He was then honored by the Austrian Government with the Grand Cross of Francis Joseph.
In the five years between 1902 and 1907 Metropolitan Gregory of Herakleia, with the help of Greek diplomats, managed to protect the province from the danger of the Unia, who since the mid-19th century made their appearance in the area, as well as from the actions of the Bulgarian Exarchate.
In Raidesto he set the foundation stone for the building of the Thracian Educational Association in 1873, the central school for girls "the Theodorideia", the central school for boys "Georgiadeion", the Kindergarten "Georgiadeion" and the large warehouse at the pier of the city.
He bought and repaired the Yiangou house and he donated it as the Metropolis mansion in Raidesto, provided that each respective Metropolitan give 35 sovereigns each year to the school fund. This is why the Greek community of Raidesto has written his name in their official code and proclaimed him their Great Benefactor.
Metropolitan Gregory also deposited money in the National Bank for the maintenance of a teacher in his homeland of Kumbos, and he named its public school "Kallideion".
In Raidesto, after a life of much anguish and torture, he saw the majority of Christians in Thrace expelled.
He collaborated with the expatriate Armenians, Turks and Jews so that Raidesto would not suffer, and he was made worthy to receive on July 7th in 1920 the Greek Liberation Army from the Smyrna division and the next day the young king Alexander. He was the first member of the Committee of Thracian Orthodox, Muslims, Armenians and Jews, which gave their gratitude to King Alexander and the Government of Venizelos and took part in the celebration of the National Victory.
For the second time he went to Athens after the death of King Alexander, with the Spiritual Leaders and Representatives of Thrace for the reception of King Constantine. He went to Thessaly and Macedonia to urge and encourage there the return of Thracians to their homeland, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Relief. He took part in the Synod of the Old and New Territories in 1921 in which he had the chair of primacy in all the sessions.
Finally, despite his advanced age, he continued working tirelessly in the Thracian bastion for the spiritual nurturing of his flock receiving with it the given freedom of Thrace.
But these glories and honors came to destruction with the black tragedy, the destruction in 1922 that tore away the eternal Hellenism of Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace from their ancestral homes. So Metropolitan Gregory, like another Moses, with his refugee staff, was a magnanimous consolation for his displaced flock, and he led them safely to Greece.
The last years of his life he spent in Thessaloniki, at leisure without wanting to take up a new Metropolis.
On April 12 (Palm Sunday) in 1925 Metropolitan Gennadios Alexiadis of Thessaloniki and the community of Thessaloniki honored Metropolitan Gregory for the completion of fifty years of his God-loving and nation-loving hierarchical service. After a festive Divine Liturgy there followed a solemn ceremony at Saint Gregory Palamas with Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine present, as well as other Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Church of Greece, representatives of Mount Athos and the Greek State, military and local leaders.
The periodical "Gregorios o Palamas" dedicated their ninth volume (1925) to Metropolitan Gregory Kallides on the occasion of the jubilee of his hierarchical service.
Metropolitan Gregory, the Archbishop of Herakleia and Raidesto, after a brief illness, gave his last breath at midnight on Thursday July 23, 1925. His funeral service took place with splendour by Metropolitan Gennadios of Thessaloniki, Diodoros of Campania, Joachim of Apolloniados and Irenaeus of Cassandreia in the Sacred Church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki. Also present were Metropolitans Constantine of Serres and Neophytos of Sidirokastro, the Armenian bishop, a representative of the Chief Rabbi, numerous officials and the faithful people of God. With splendour the body was brought to the cemetery of Evangelistria where it was buried at the expense of the public.
On October 20, 1979 His Holiness Metropolitan Panteleimon II of Thessaloniki translated his sacred relics which were discovered to be fragrant and since then have performed numerous miracles.
Following the actions of His Holiness Metropolitan Panteleimon II of Thessaloniki in the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a Patriarchal and Synodal Act was issued on 22 May 2003, officially placing Saint Gregory in the list of Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the day for his commemoration was designated for July 25th (the day of his repose) and October 20th (the day of his translation) as a second feast.
The Patriarchal and Synodal Act was brought by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I himself with a patriarchal escort, and he presided over the service/doxology for the classification of Saint Gregory in the list of the saints of our Church, in the Sacred Church of Saint Demetrios on 29 May 2003.
Bibliography and Resources:
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Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.