March 25, 2021

The Church Where General Theodoros Kolokotronis Wept in his Darkest Hour

In the early days of the revolution, Theodoros Kolokotronis had marched triumphantly through cheering crowds, but in the following weeks few things went right for him. After the events of Kalamata, he headed north to Karytaina with Nikitas Stamatelopoulos, Elias Mavromichalis, the Plapoutas brothers, Kanellos Deligiannis, Papaflessas and Anagnostaras. Karytaina was an isolated village on a rocky outcrop in the central Peloponnese, with an old Byzantine castle over it. Turks were besieged in the castle by some thousand and a half armed Greeks. When 2000 enemy soldiers with 700 cavalry reached Karytaina from Tripolitsa all the Greeks fled, as Kolokotronis observed from afar with his telescope. For over 400 years of slavery the Greeks were used to obeying orders like good subjects and with the exception of the law-breaking klephts and law-enforcing armatoloi the villagers had no idea how to use a rifle. They needed the first victory, to acquire self-confidence. Kolokotronis had to then hide in a tree to allow the Turks to pass without noticing him. He was left alone and when he was asked by his soldiers to leave to fight another battle, he said: "I am not coming. I sit in these mountains where the birds know me better than my neighbors." Papaflessas ordered a young soldier to stay with Kolokotronis: "Stay with him, so that the wolves don't devour him." Kolokotronis stayed alone. And as he says in his memoirs:

"I was left alone, I and my horse at Chrysovitsi. I stayed until they left with their banners, then I descended the hill until I came to a church on the road, the Panagia in Chrysovitsi, and I sat until I wept for Greece: 'My Panagia help the Greeks again at this time to be encouraged!'"
Thus it was to the Panagia that Kolokotronis turned in his darkest hour.

Kolokotronis prayed in the Church of the Panagia in Chrysovitsi, which had been consecrated in 1819, on the 2nd of April in 1821, and this event is commemorated there annually.

Soon after this, Kolokotronis uttered the phrase: "God has put His signature for the Freedom of Greece and He will not take it back."
Another major event took place some days later on April 28th and concerns the first military and political administration of the Revolution with the establishment of the five-member ephorate with Kanellos Deligiannis as president and the proclamation of Kolokotronis as Arch-General.