Chrysanthos (Philippidis) of Athens

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Archbishop Chrysanthos (Philippidis) of Athens was the Archbishop of Athens of the Church of Greece from 1938 to 1941. Prior to ascending the cathedra of Athens, he had been the Metropolitan of Trebizond under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople until 1925 when he was exiled from Turkey.


Charilaos Philippidis, son of Zissis Philioglou, was born in Komotini (Gumulcina). in Thrace, in March 1881. His father died early, leaving his mother to care for him and two siblings. After completing his basic education in Komotini, Charilaos entered the Theological School of Halki in 1897 and graduated in 1903. Upon graduation, Charilaos was ordained an archdeacon by Metropolitan Constantinos (Karatzopoulos) of Trebizond at the Cathedral of Trebizond, at which time he took the name Chrysanthos.

In 1904, at the age of 23, he was assigned the duties of Genikos Epitropos (representative of the Metropolitan) of the diocese of Trebizond. This position brought him, amongst others, the task of resolving problems that arose between the Christians and the Muslims. His success in this task, as well as his administrative abilities, increased his prestige in the community. Although the death of his mother in May 1905 caused him much pain and grief, Dcn. Chrysanthos put his personal troubles aside as he placed his duty before all else. Two months later, Metr. Constantinos of Trebizond died and was succeeded by Metr. Constantinos Arampoglouon.

At the end of the 1907 school year, Chrysanthos resigned his position to devote himself to further education in Western Europe. Through the following years he attended classes in Vienna and Leipzig while keeping up relations with the western European intelligentsia. Later, he continued his studies in Lau­sanne, Switzerland.

In 1911, Chrysanthos was appointed Archivist and editor-in-chief of the Ekklesiastiki Alitheia, the official journal of the of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In 1912, he was raised to the dignity of archimandrite and sent as Exarch to Venice to evaluate the options for saving Orthodox property there that the Italian government was planning to appropriate.

On May 18, 1913, Fr. Chrysanthos was elected, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Trebizond. His enthronement came as the Greek population of Pontus came under duress with the beginning of World War I. Metr. Chrysanthos immediately interceded with the Turkish authorities to convince them of the absolute law-abiding nature of the Greek population. Through his intercessions he stopped the deportation of hundreds including those assigned to notorious labor battalions (amele taburu) and obtained exemption from the conscription of teachers, professors, and church workers.

In April 1916, when the Turkish authorities withdrew as Russian forces approached Trebizond, the Turks placed administration of the area in the hands of Metr. Chrysanthos. The Russians in turn assigned him to running the city, having full confidence in his administrative and diplomatic abilities, and having discerned in his person a guarantee of harmonious co-existence between Greeks and Turks.

With the rise of the Bolshevik government in Russia at the end of World War I, Metr. Chrysanthos traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia. There, he worked with the Georgians to re-establish their autocephalous Orthodox Church. He, also, went to Yerevan, capital of the newly constituted Armenian Republic, where he negotiated the creation of a Ponto - Armenian Federation. But, on returning to Trebizond, he faced the wrath of the Turks and, for safety's sake, sought refuge in Constantinople, then under Allied occupation. On September 20. 1921, he was condemned to death in absentia by the Independence Court of Kemal Ataturk that had already sent 69 Greek notables to the gallows after summary proceedings. Thus in 1922, Metr. Chrysanthos was obliged to flee from Constantinople, as it had been abandoned by the Allies. He, then, established himself in Athens and was appointed an accredited representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1926.

In Greece, Metr. Chrysanthos gained the appreciated by the Greek government, which entrusted him with a number of missions over the next decade. These missions that included Albania in 1927, Belgrade, Bucharest and Warsaw in 1929, Mount Athos in 1929, 1920 and 1935, and Cyprus in 1931 were to settle matters arising in the Orthodox Churches outside Greece.

In December 1938, Metr. Chrysanthos was elected Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, replacing Archbishop Damaskinos (Papandreou) who had been dismissed by John Metaxas, then dictator of Greece. As World War II reached Greece when the German army arrived in April 1941, Archbishop Chrysanthos refused to join the committee that would hand Athens over to them. When the Holy Synod received the commander of the German Second Army Corps, His Eminence rebuked him when he refused to swear in the collaborationist government.

With the fall oft he government that that had dismissed Abp. Damaskinos, on July 2, 1941, Abp. Chrysanthos was dismissed from his office and Damaskinos was returned as archbishop. Chrysanthos withdrew to a small house in the Kypseli district of Athens. There he remained throughout the German occupation not taking a single step outside this house. Penniless, he was sustained by the generosity of his friends.

After the German occupation had ended, Abp. Chrysanthos did not seek to return to the archbishop's cathedra, so as not to create internal irregularities and discord. Also, from the time of his dismissal to his death, the attitude of the state and Church toward him was of complete indifference. Only a month before his death, the Holy Synod recognized Chrysanthos as the former Archbishop of Athens ("with ecclesiastical frugality") in order to offer him some rudimentary financial support.

Abp. Chrysanthos reposed on September 28, 1949.

Succession box:
Chrysanthos (Philippidis) of Athens
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Trebizond
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Damaskinos (Papandreou)
Archbishop of Athens
Succeeded by:
Damaskinos (Papandreou)
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