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March 11, 2021

Chapel of Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem in Leros

In Alinda on the Greek island of Leros is a neoclassical mansion known as the "Patriatchate", which today is the seaside residence of the Metropolitan of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalea. It was reconstructed about fifteen years ago after lying as an abandoned ruin for many years. Now, apart from the Archbishop's residence and office, it's also a conference center, with lovely views all around.

Its nickname is due to the notorious Patriarch of Alexandria Sophronios IV who used the original building as a summer home. Patriarch Sophronios served the Patriarchate of Alexandria from 1870 to his death in 1899, after having been Patriarch of Constantinople from 1863 to 1866. His tenure as Patriarch of Alexandria was tainted by the unfair expulsion of the Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, Metropolitan Nektarios Kephalas of Pentapolis, whom the Church elevated to Sainthood following his death. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronios IV of Alexandria, Nektarios went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronios ordained him priest on March 23, 1886.

During the Urabi Revolt, a nationalist uprising in Egypt from 1879 to 1882, led by and named for Colonel Ahmed Urabi who sought to depose the Khedive Tewfik Pasha and end British and French influence over the country, Patriarch Sophronios left Alexandria for Leros, when a British fleet arrived in Alexandria on May 22, 1882. On the afternoon of June 11, 1882 the political turmoil exploded into violence on the streets of Alexandria. Rioters attacked Greek, Maltese and Italian businesses and battles broke out in the streets. About fifty Europeans and 250 Egyptians were killed. A month later there was a bombardment of the British against Alexandria from its fleet, which led to British rule in Egypt.

Patriarch Sophronios loved Leros and assisted in its development. Some Greek wealthy families followed him to Leros from Alexandria and built fine neoclassical mansions on the island, mainly in Alinda.

The white chapel next to the "Patriarchate" in the courtyard is dedicated to the patron saint of Patriarch Sophronios, Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem, who is celebrated there annually on March 11th.
A view of the "Patriarchate" from the sea.
St. Sophronios of Jerusalem processional icon.
Patriarch Sophronios IV of Alexandria