January 30, 2014

The Three Hierarchs and the History of the Celebration of Greek Education

Before the foundation of the Greek state

The autonomy of the feast of the Three Hierarchs from an eccleiastical context and its institutionalization as a school event is not listed before the 19th century. Preceding this, according to the historian Effi Gazi, was the memorial day celebration for the feast of the Three Hierarchs for the local schools in the Crossroads (Stavrodromi) district of Constantinople by Patriarch Kallinikos V in 1805. Another indication is the Evangelical School of Smyrna and the celebration on January 30th of the memory of the benefactors and subscribers of the School from 1812-1813. In the Ionian Academy the Three Hierarchs were considered and honored as the protectors of their Constitution (1824-1826).

After the establishment of the Greek state

The procedures for establishing the feast as educational is associated with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, when in a gathering of the Academic Council on the 9th of August in 1841, which was held on the occasion of the death of Demetrios Mavrokordatos, a professor of the institution, and a donation of the house of the deceased by his father to the University of Athens, they wanted to honor him. Ultimately they opted to establish a memorial for the benefactors of the University on the ecclesiastical feast of the Three Hierarchs. The first memorial celebration was held on January 30, 1842. The actual establishment of the feast, however, would linger: it would take place in 1911 when this highest academic institution would acquire a new organization and within this it would identify its feasts and celebrations.

Ecclesiastical-political and ideological parameters for establishing this educational feast

This took place when the autocephalous Church of Greece was being discussed and the resulting reactions in making it a major political issue. Relations between Athens and the Phanar, as well as the Greek Kingdom and the Russian, were strained and cold. Alongside this there were articulated reservations about the role of the newly established institution of the University and whether to displace the Church from educational matters and if they would be friendly towards religion. As Effi Gazi writes, the establishment of this university feast within the 19th century entered "to shake off allegations of atheism" and "view the University as a place to preserve traditional values" and "its connection with the autocephalous Church". From the third decade of the 19th century there was an "uninterrupted crossbreeding of formal religious life with secular Greek life". This is reflected with the establishment of this feast.


1. Έφη Γαζή, Ο δεύτερος βίος των Τριών Ιεραρχών: Μια γενεαλογία του ελληνοχριστιανικού πολιτισμού, εκδ. Νεφέλη, Αθήνα, 2004.

2. Κωνσταντίνος Δημαράς, "Η ιδεολογική υποδομή του νέου Ελληνικού κράτους", Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους, Εκδοτική Αθηνών, τομ. ΙΓ΄(1977), σελ.473.

3. Mητρ. Χρυσόστομος Θέμελης, "Ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν Τριῶν Ἱεραρχῶν ἐν τῷ Πανεπιστημίῳ Ἀθηνῶν (Α´)", Θεολογία, τομ.62 (1991), σελ.7-65, 201-277.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.