April 15, 2019

Holy New Hieromartyr Ananias Lampardes, Metropolitan of Lacedaemon (+ 1764)

St. Ananias of Lacedaemon (Feast Days - April 15 and Sunday of the Myrrhbearers)

The Holy Hieromartyr Ananias, known in the world as Anastasios, was born in the early eighteenth century to noble and affluent parents. His father, Theophiles, was a relative of the Lampardopoulos (Lampardes) family, and his mother was the daughter of Syntychos of Vyziki in Gortynia.

Ananias studied in the school of Dimitsana at Philosophou Monastery, where he probably became a monk and took the name of Ananias, and later in 1741 became the Bishop of Karyoupolis in Mani. In 1747 he was promoted to Metropolitan of Dimitsana and in February of 1750 he was made Metropolitan of Lacedaemon. In 1755 he wrote a special treatise on Sparta and his Metropolis.

He was distinguished for his education, high knowledge, his firm and unshakable ecclesiastical character, his goodness and his philanthropy. He was greatly revered by the Greeks, but terrified the Turks. This is why he became the president of all the leaders of the Morea. He supported the national element and defended the local armatoloi.

During the spring, summer and part of autumn, he stayed in Dimitsana, where he built an aqueduct, consolidated the annual taxes of the famous school of the Philosophou Monastery, and rebuilt in Mistra a magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral.

But the power of Metropolitan Ananias went beyond the Peloponnese, cause he had strong ties with the Patrairchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria, and the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople was occupied with a native of Dimitsana, Patriarch Cyril V Karakalos, who was a lover of Russia and an enemy of the Latins. When Patriarch Cyril V was exiled, he came from Sinai to Dimitsana where he with Metropolitan Ananias began to proclaim the liberation of the nation and established schools.

In 1762 Metropolitan Ananias was sent to Constantinople to stand before the Grand Vizier and describe to him the misfortunes of the Peloponnese. He thus succeeded in preserving the Mora Valesi for the protection of Christians. At that time, at the initiative of the Saint, a large building was built for the school of Dimitsana, where the poor students gathered from all over the Peloponnese.

Wishing to weaken the Ottoman Empire and establish a pro-Russian independent Greek state, Russian emissaries of Catherine the Great had been sent to Mani in the mid-1760s to make a pact with the strongest local military leaders, and at the same time notable Greeks approached various Russian agents, discussing plans for the liberation of Greece. At the famous assembly, which was held in Kalamata, Ananias gave his blessing for the revolt.

Saint Ananias, after this, consulted with the captains and armatoloi of the Peloponnese and Mani, as well as with the presidents and chiefs of the provinces of the three islands of Hydra, Spetses and Psari, for the liberation of their homeland. With the care and expense of the Saint two mills were established in Dimitsana.

For these things Metropolitan Ananias was betrayed to the Mora Valesi, being accused of conspiring with the Russians against the Turks. Many sought armed resistance to help the Saint, but he suggested that he take the fall alone so the Turks would not think there was an organized movement. After partaking of Holy Communion, he gave himself over to the soldiers, who arrested him. Saint Ananias knelt, and with incredible willingness, he told the executioner to strike him. Blood bounced from his decapitated head and stained the west door of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mistra. This took place on April 15, 1764.

The Turks dragged the sacred body of the Hieromartyr to the middle of the street where it was left for three days unburied. As soon as the Turks left, the Christians took the body and buried it with honor. Meanwhile, the decapitated head of the Saint was brought to the Vizier.

On April 15, 2017 Metropolitan Eustathios of Sparta announced the canonization of Saint Ananias during the Service of the Resurrection at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sparta, which is pending approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.