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March 25, 2013

Blood-Stained Cassocks and 1821

By Konstantinos Holevas, Political Scientist

March 23, 2013

Without the Orthodox clergy the great national campaign of 1821 would not have succeeded. Some propagandists of outdated ideologies deny the role of the Bishops and speak only of the "lower clergy". They are wrong both in terms of terminology and in their historical perspective.

In the Orthodox Church the higher clergy are the Bishops, the Presbyters (priests) and the Deacons. To the lower clergy belong the Subdeacon and the Reader, who are laymen. The French Consul Fran├žois Pouqueville writes that 100 Patriarchs and Bishops were killed during the Turkish Occupation and the Struggle [of 1821]. Before 1821 there were 80 movements made by Greeks, and most were led by Bishops. Remember that from 1680 to 1700 Eastern Central Greece was free after two Bishops revolted, Hierotheos of Thebes and Philotheos of Salona.

1821 is stained with the blood of Patriarch Gregory V and Patriarch Cyril VI, from Andrionople. Besides Bishop Germanos of Patras, who blessed the banner at Holy Lavra Monastery and in Patras, Isaiah of Salona declared Revolution in Phokida and was sacrificed in Alamana. The Patmian Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilos Pagkostas, went to Patmos and raised the banner of revolution. From then he never returned to his throne.

Most Bishops of Peloponnesos were imprisoned by the Pasha of Tripoli from the beginning of March 1821, and only two were found alive when the Greeks entered after 6.5 months. Let us not forget this sacrifice of the shepherds.

In Cyprus, Archbishop Kyprianos had joined the Filiki Etairia (Society of Friends). The Turks were informed and on 9 July 1821 there was a great slaughter in Nicosia. Kyprianos together with all the Bishops and Archimandrites were killed together with the elders.

Many other Bishops played a significant role in the Struggle, such as Anthimos of Elos, Theodoritos of Vresthena, Joseph of Androusa, and Neophytos of Talantio (Livadeia). And in the Grand Exodus of Messolonghi, Bishop Joseph of Rogon, aid to Metropolitan Porphyrios of Arta, was sacrificed while blowing the windmill.

All who lived at that time were confessors: Bishops, priests, simple monastics, all proclaimed their "presence". Our Freedom is owed primarily to the Blood-stained Cassocks.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos