Gregory V of Constantinople

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Patriarch Gregory V was born in 1746 in Dimitsana, Arcadia prefecture, Greece. His name in the world was Georgios Angelopoulos.

He studied first in Dimitsana, later in Athens and finally in Smyrna at the Theological School. In 1775, he was ordained a deacon and evetually (1785) succeeded Procopius as Bishop of Smyrna when the latter became Patriarch of Constantinople.

In 1797, Gregory, himself, was elected Ecumenical Patriarch, an office that he would hold 3 times in his life. In 1818 he became a member of the Friendly Society (Filiki Eteria) which was preparing the revolt of the Greek nation against Ottoman rule. However, in March 1821, when Alexander Ypsilantis crossed the Prut river to start the revolt in Romania, Patriarch Gregory V excommunicated him in order to save the Greeks of Constantinople from reprisals. The reprisals took place after the Greek Revolution broke out in Peloponnesus on 25 March 1821. Many important officials of the Greek community were imprisoned and / or executed and among them was Patriarch Gregory who was seized and hanged in the central outside portal of the Patriarchate on April 10. The door has remained shut and out of use ever since. After three days, the Turks took down the Patriarch's body and surrendered it to Jews who dragged it through the streets before throwing it into the sea. A Greek boatsman, named Nikolaos Sklavos, managed to recover the body and brought it to Odessa (present-day Ukraine) where it was buried with honours.

His Legacy

Patriarch Gregory's martyrdom stirred the Greek revolutionaries who used his name as a rallying cry in the siege of Tripolis and later, eventually winning their freedom.

The Greek Orthodox Church declared Gregory V a saint in 1921. His statue stands outside Athens University along with that of Rigas Feraios, the other great martyr of the Greek Revolution.