September 23, 2020

Holy Ethnomartyr Gregory the Kalamaras, Metropolitan of Argos (+ 1821)

St. Gregory Kalamaras of Argos (Feast Day - September 23)

Gregory the Kalamaras was born in 1769 in Alagonia, Kalamata. He served as Metropolitan of Erythra and then Patras (1780 - 1799). Then he was elected Metropolitan of Argos and Nafplio (1810 - 1821), since he was the nephew of his predecessor Gregory (1800 - 1810).
In the year 1819 he was initiated into the Friendly Society (Filiki Etaireia) by Daniel Pampoukis, abbot of the Monastery of Vrachos in Nemea. He himself initiated into the Friendly Society the elites of his province such as Ioannis Iatrou and the Papalexopoulos brothers in Nafplio, Ioannis Peroukas, Stamatis Antonopoulos, the Vlassis brothers in Argos, the priest George Velinis in Platanizos, Theodosios Bouskos in Tzaferaga, George Kakanis in Chonika, his archdeacon Athanasios Soliotis, and the priest Papa-Constantis in Achladokambos.
Why was he called the "Kalamaras"? He had promoted the School of Argos, that is, the Secondary School maintained by the merchants and the Church, into a remarkable educational unit with a radiance that was not only local. As a man of letters, he was nicknamed the Kalamaras, which indicates he was a scholar. He transferred the school from Panagia Portokalousa to the city. It must have been housed near the seat of the Diocese. They are not preserved. Both, the home and school, were burned and demolished by the Turkish-Albanians of Kehayabei at the end of April 1821.
At the beginning of March 1821, the secret of the impending Revolution was betrayed by a prominent Tripoli native named Kougia. In Tripoli there was no Pasha, but a Kaimakami, that is, a temporary replacement. As a precautionary measure, he asked all the bishops and governors of the Peloponnese to gather in Tripoli. Not everyone went. Gregory went even though he knew all the secrets of the Friendly Society. He went, consciously, to reassure them because he was afraid that the Turks could easily exterminate all the Christians of Argos.
When the Revolution began, he was imprisoned, along with others, in the basement of the Great Saragio of Tripoli. It remained closed from March until September 1821. The Turks, after their defeat at the Battle of Grana (August 1821), found themselves in a desperate situation and tried to reach an agreement with the Greeks. They took Gregory and the others out of the basement. This was even worse, because a contagious disease had spread among them which began to infect the weak and malnourished hostages. After September 14 they began to release them. Gregory, exhausted from the disease, died as he was transported to Argos, on 18 or 21 September 1821.
Gregory was an active member of the Friendly Society. He hosted his fellow citizen Papaflessas in Argos for a long time and helped in the initiation into the Friendly Society of many priests and nobles of the region.
Though he is not officially canonized a saint of the Church, he is so in the consciousness of many of the faithful, and his statue stands outside the Church of Saint Peter in Argos.