May 19, 2013

Pascha Under Turkish Domination (5 of 6)

The Certified Document of the Patriarch

This historical document, written by Patriarch Theodosios II is addressed to the clergy, priests and hieromonks of the Great Church of Christ, and through them to the faithful people of Constantinople. It refers to the "stern command" of the Porte and urges among other things the following:

Most-honorable clergy of our Great Church of Christ and all the most-pious priests and most-venerable hieromonks, who chant in the churches of the city, of Galata, Katasteno, grace to you and peace from God.

It is known to all, that today I was invited before the most-glorious efendi of Istanbul, and having gone there I heard boldly read the issued royal venerable definitions, which dictate that during the days of Pascha, all Christian slaves are to spend them in quietness and modesty, without dances and songs and games, and not to walk gathered together in the streets, going neither to Baloukli nor to Egri-kapi and other holy water shrines, but to quietly rest in their homes and their lofts.

The people are not to wear a high kalpak, fur with a long guard and other "unseemly" things which belong to those who hold us, that is, salvaria and mintani and other such prohibited dress, but to keep intact the royal venerable definitions given for garments.

Whoever dares to transgress any of these dictates, will be disciplined with the heaviest punishment. Hence, embrace it and in a few days, as we have written and as we have advised, you will spend these holy days quietly and modestly. Behold, even now that we have revealed the aforementioned stern command and proclaim to all Christians, small and great, young and old, men and women, to take care of yourselves during these holy days, according to the issued royal venerable definitions, and to (...) keep without wavering the dictates above, the royal venerable definitions which have been issued.

For whoever annuls any of these commands, they should know that they will be disciplined with the heaviest punishment.

The aforementioned patriarchal document began with the word "the Patriarch" as a heading and closed with the word "Constantinople", without the name of the Patriarch being written. From the date of the document however (1772), it shows that the Patriarch on the throne at that time in Constantinople was Theodosios II.

Theodosios II was elected Patriarch on 04/11/1769 and remained on the throne until 1773. He was appointed Patriarch during difficult times, as is written by the chronicler. He performed his duties with peace and gentleness. He was distinguished for his wisdom, virtue, goodness and simplicity. He was lovingly-just and endearing to the clergy and the people.

He was Cretan in origin and became an abbot in a monastery on the island. For some time he was the head-priest of the Sacred Church of Saint George in the Queen City. He was later ordained Bishop of Ierissos and Mount Athos from where he was promoted to the Metropolis of Thessaloniki and then was elected Patriarch.

The Orlov Revolt (1770) made the position of Theodosios as Patriarch of Constantinople very difficult. Orthodox clergy and the faithful people were considered suspects and dangerous at that time by their conquerors, which is why hard measures were imposed even for their religious duties.

To be continued...

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos