June 3, 2019

Saint Gregory, Bishop of Derkoi (+ 1821)

St. Gregory of Derkoi (Feast Day - June 3)

Saint Gregory was born in the village of Zoumpanta in Achaia of the Peloponnese. His father was Kanellos, his mother Malamo, and his only brother was Mitros. When he was young his father sent him to the Monastery of Saint Athanasios in Philia of Kalavryta, where he was tonsured a monk. He studied in Dimitsana, Nafplion, and the Great School of the Nation in Constantinople. His education and virtue attracted the honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Sophronios II (1774-1780), who in February of 1777 ordained him Metropolitan of Lacedaemonia in succession to the other ethno-martyr Metropolitan Ananias Lampardes (1750-1767).

During his tenure, the Archdiocese of Dimitsana was placed under the Metropolis of Lacedaemonia, while the Patriarchal Exarchate of Zarnatas was promoted to a Diocese of the Metropolis of Lacedaemonia. Ambrosios Frantzis tells us that Gregory's actions were disturbing to the Turks of the region, so the pasha of Nafplion imprisoned him for nine months and sought three times by sending couriers to Constantinople to have issued a firman to behead him. However, the Ottoman authorities were bought with thirty thousand piastras and he escaped being martyred at the time.

In 1790 Metropolitan Gregory managed to escape being arrested by the pasha of Tripoli and he went to Constantinople. Not being able to return to Lacedaimon, the Ecumenical Patriarchate transferred him to the Metropolis of Vidin (1791-1801). There he became friendly with Osman Pazvantoğlu, who in 1797 revolted against the sultan. Gregory was then transferred to the Metropolis of Derkoi during the Patriarchate of Kallinikos V (1801-1806, 1808-1809).

He was one of the first members the Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) and was of great service to the Church and the Greek Nation. He had a strong voice in the work of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He managed to overcome the difficult and tricky problems of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His enlightened thought always bore the thoughts and decisions of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate. He was among the hierarchs who showed great zeal for the foundation of schools in order to exalt the spiritual and educational level of the youth. Patriarchs Gregory V (+ 1821) and Anthimos V (1841-1842) were among his spiritual children, as well as Gregory Papaflessas. He greatly contributed to the reorganization of the Great School of the Nation and to its relocation from the Phanar to Xirokrini. Gregory spoke Albanian, Turkish and French. Ambrosios Frantzis tells us that the Phanariotes respected him, although they knew of his distrust due to their relationship with the Turks.

After the invasion of Alexander Ypsilantis in Moldavlachia (March 9, 1821), Gregory was imprisoned along with the Metropolitans of Thessaloniki Joseph, of Tirnavos Ioannikios and of Adrianople Dorotheos. Following the eruption of the Revolution in the Peloponnese (23-25 ​​March 1821) and the subsequent warfare, the killing of the hierarchs in Constantinople was ordered as a retaliation, and the Metropolitans of Thessaloniki Joseph, of Tirnavos Ioannikios and of Adrianople Dorotheos were hanged in Arnavutköy, while for Gregory the gallows was set up in the courtyard of his home in Therapeia near Constantinople. Gregory prayed, blessed the loop of his rope, passed it over his neck, made the sign of the Cross, and in this way ended his earthly life with the testimony of Christ and on behalf of the Nation, on June 3, 1821.