April 20, 2012

First Celebration of the 1241 Naousa Martyrs of 1822

On Bright Thursday, 19 April 2012, a Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Katholikon of the Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos, or Panagia of the Rock, which until recently housed the Psychiatric Hospital of Petra Olympus. This was done to commeorate Hieromartyr John the New of the Holy Monastery of Petras Olympus, who was martyred in the holocaust of Naousa on Bright Thursday in 1822.

In 1822, the insurgence of the Greeks of Western Macedonia against the Turks came to a dramatic finale in Naousa. Abdul Abud, the Pasha of Thessaloniki, arrived on the 14th of March at the head of a 16,000 strong force and 12 cannons. The Greeks defended Naousa with a force of 4,000 under Anastasios Karatasos, Aggelis Gatsos, Tsamis Karatasos, Karamitsos and Philippos, the son of Zafeirakis Theodosiou, under the overall command of Zafeirakis Theodosiou and Anastasios Karatasos. The Turks attempted to take the town of Naousa on the 16th of March 1822, and on the 18 and 19 March, without success. On the 24th of March the Turks began a bombardment of the city walls that lasted for days. After requests for the town's surrender were dismissed by the Greeks, the Turks charged the gate of St George on Good Friday, the 31st of March. The Turkish attack failed but on the 6th of April, after receiving fresh reinforcements of some 3,000 men, the Turkish army finally overcame the Greek resistance and entered the city. In an infamous incident, as the rebels were abandoning the town, some of the women left behind committed suicide by falling down a cliff over the small river Arapitsa. Zafeirakis Theodosiou was pursued by a Turkish unit and was killed. The other Greek leaders retreated southwards. Abdul Abud laid the town and surrounding area to waste. The fall and massacre of Naousa marked the end of the Greek revolution in Macedonia in 1822. (John C. Vasdravellis, The Greek Struggle for Independence: The Macedonians in the Revolution of 1821 (1968), p. 123-24, 136)

Hieromonk John of the Holy Monastery of Petras Olympus represented his Monastery in the struggle of the Greeks. On Bright Thursday of 1822 Saint John celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church of Saint George in Naousa together with four other priests. At the end of the Divine Liturgy thirty faithful were in the church who had fled there to pray for God's mercy and to escape the fury of the Turks. Unfortunately, the siege of the Turks was persistent and they managed to enter inside the temple, and behead all those who were inside with the first being Hieromonk John, then Papa Gerasimos the Spiritual and Papa Dimitri the Sakelario, and two other priests whose names remain unknown.

On Sunday 26 June 2011, 1241 New Martyrs of Naousa were glorified by the Church.