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Gregory V

Gregory V (1746-1821) was one of the most important patriarchs of Constantinople (1797-1798, 1806-1808, 1818-1821), one of the most esteemed Martyrs of the revolution, a Saint of the Church (10th April); he belongs equally to the Church, the Nation, and the Education. Additionally, he is a much discussed personality, because of his involvement in the ideological conflicts of the modern hellenism.

Biographical notes

NĂ© Georgios Aggelopoulos, he was born in Dimitsana by poor parents. His inclination to learing made him study in the school of his birthplace and since 1756 for two years in Athens. At the help of his uncle, who was a warden in Smyrna, he managed to study another five years in its renowned High School. But from his nature, he was not only inclined to knowledge, but also to ascetic life. Being brought up in a traditional, hesychastic environment, he followed his gift and turned into the monastic life. His passion for monasticism was especially cultivated by his relation from child-age with the renowned Monastery of Philosophou in his homeland. He became a monk in Strophades, and took the name Gregory. After that he shall stude theology and philosophy at the School of Patmos, attaining thus a rather high education for his age. Then he returns to Smyrna, where he is ordained into Deaconate by the Metropolitan of Snyrna Prokopios, and becomes his Archdeacon.

Quickly he becomes a priest and a protosyncelos. In 1785 Prokopios becomes elected Ecumenical Patriarch, and Gregory is ordained a Bishop and takes the Metropolis of Smyrna. His rich activity makes him widely known, and hence in May 1797, when the Ecumenical throne is becomes empty, he is elected patriarch of Constantinople as Gregory V. His stay at the Ecumenical throne is combined with a variety of difficulties and adventures. This is visible even from his unstable position of his patriarchy. He is disposed and deported in 1798. He retires to the Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos, where he stays for seven years, living ascetically and studying. On the 23rd September 1806, he is called for a second time by the hierarchs to the Patriarchal see.

The problems, however, do not seize: the shift in Turkish politics and the revolution of the Genitsars bring another fall of Gregory, who is expelled first to Pringiponisos and then in 1810 he retires again to Mount Athos, where he stays for another 9 years. He is, however, elected for a third time a Patriarch (15th December 1818) and returns to the City on January 1819. His third patriarchacy is linked with crucial moments for the Nation. His position becomes increasingly harder and more dangerous, and his patriarchy ends with his Martyrdom. On the night of Pascha (10 April 1821), after he has celebrated the divine Liturgy of the Resurrection with another 8 hierarchs, he was arrested, abolished from his throne, and imprisoned. But on 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the same day, he was hung on the front gate of the Patriarch. For three days, his body rested thus hanging, receiving the mockings of the angry croud. A group of Jews bought the corpse and circulated it round the city, before throwing it in the Ceratius gulf. Fortunately, the captain Nicholas Sklavos, found his relic in the sea, and transfered it secretely to Odessa, where it was buried in the Greek Church of the Holy Trinity.