August 15, 2019

Filon Ktenidis and the Establishment of the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Vermio

Filon Ktenidis was born in 1889 in Trebizond, Pontus, and spent his childhood days in Kromni. In 1906 he graduated with excellent grades at the Frontistirion (High School) of Trebizond.

From 1906-1909 he began work as an accountant. Αt the same time he was a contributor to the Trapezuntine newspaper Ethniki Drasi (National Action).

In 1910 he published his own fortnightly newspaper, Epitheoro, and was expelled by the Neo Turks, fleeing to Athens, where he enrolled in the University's Medical School. In 1912-13 he volunteered in the Greek army and took part in operations in Epirus and Macedonia (Greece). In 1914-15 he returned to Trebizond to offer his voluntary services as a doctor, to the people of the outer Greek regions of Trebizond.

With the entry of the Russian troops to Trebizond in 1916, he traveled to the Caucasus where between 1915-17 he worked as a Medical Doctor in the biggest Russian Military Hospital. In 1918 he became the President of the National Council of Pontos "Panagia Soumela" in Krassnodor, Russia. Ιn 1922 he returned to Thessaloniki where he practiced as a doctor.

He was the successful writer of 17 well known Pontian Theatrical Plays. He served as an MP after the 1935 legislative elections in Greece.

In 1950, the Pontian poet and doctor, who wrote the song that would have been the national anthem if the Independent Republic of Pontus had come into being, began a campaign in Greece: “I have seen a dream. The Mother of God of Soumela appeared and said, ‘You refugees, my children, you have made your homes in this new country. When are you going to make my home?’” With this, he began a campaign to build the new Soumela Monastery in Kastania, 80 kilometers from Thessalonica on Mount Vermio, where the original wonderworking icon of Panagia Soumela from Pontus is now enshrined.

The location for the new monastery was chosen because it was topographically very close to the original monastery in Pontus. It was chosen on 30 May 1951. On 15 August 1952 the church was consecrated. The original icon, which had been in the Byzantine Museum of Athens, was permanently transferred to the monastery in 1992, with state honors.

Filon died on July 13, 1963 and his grave is located at the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Kastania, which he founded.