Timeline of Orthodoxy in Greece

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This is a timeline of the presence of Orthodoxy in Greece. The history of Greece traditionally encompasses the study of the Greek people, the areas they ruled historically, as well as the territory now composing the modern state of Greece.

Christianity was first brought to the geographical area corresponding to modern Greece by the Apostle Paul, although the church’s apostolicity also rests upon St. Andrew who preached the gospel in Greece and suffered martyrdom in Patras, Titus, Paul’s companion who preached the gospel in Crete where he became bishop, Philip who, according to the tradition, visited and preached in Athens, Luke the Evangelist who was martyred in Thebes, Lazarus of Bethany, Bishop of Kittium in Cyprus, and John the Theologian who was exiled on the island of Patmos where he received the Revelation recorded in the last book of the New Testament. In addition, the Theotokos is regarded as having visited the Holy Mountain in 49 AD according to tradition. Thus Greece became the first European area to accept the gospel of Christ. Towards the end of the 2nd century the early apostolic bishoprics had developed into metropolitan sees in the most important cities. Such were the sees of Thessaloniki, Corinth, Nicopolis, Philippi and Athens.

By the 4th century almost the entire Balkan peninsula constituted the Exarchate of Illyricum which was under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome. Illyricum was assigned to the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople by the emperor in 732. From then on the Church in Greece remained under Constantinople till the fall of the Byzantine empire to the Turks in 1453. As an integral part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the church remained under its jurisdiction up to the time when Greece won her freedom from Turkish domination.[1] During the Ottoman occupation up to 6,000 Greek clergymen, ca. 100 Bishops, and 11 Patriarchs knew the Ottoman sword.[2]

The Greek War of Independence of 1821-28, while leading to the liberation of southern Greece from the Turkish yoke, created anomalies in ecclesiastical relations, and in 1850 the Endemousa Synod in Constantinople declared the Church of Greece autocephalous.

In the twentieth century during much of the period of communism, the Church of Greece saw itself as a guardian of Orthodoxy. It cherishes its place as the cradle of the primitive church and the Greek clergy are still present in the historic places of Istanbul and Jerusalem, and Cyprus.[3] The autocephalous Church of Greece is organised into 81 dioceses, however 35 of these are nominally under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but are administered as part of the Church of Greece (except for the dioceses of Crete, the Dodecanese, and Mount Athos which are under the direct jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople).

The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece presides over both a standing synod of twelve metropolitans (six from the new territories and six from southern Greece), who participate in the synod in rotation and on an annual basis, and a synod of the hierarchy (in which all ruling metropolitans participate), which meets once a year.

The population of Greece is 11.1 million (UN, 2007), 98% of which are Greek Orthodox (CIA World Factbook).

Apostolic era (33-100)

  • ca. 47-48 Apostle Paul's mission to Cyprus.
  • ca. 49 Paul's mission to Philippi, Thessaloniki and Veria.
  • 49 Paul's mission to Athens.
  • ca. 51-52 Metropolis of Korinthos founded in its Apostolic during Paul's first mission to Corinth; Paul writes his two Epistles to the Thessalonians.
  • ca. 54 Paul writes his First Epistle to the Corinthians.
  • ca. 55 Paul revisits Corinth.
  • ca. 56 Paul revisits Macedonia; he writes his Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
  • ca. 61 Paul shipwrecked in Crete.
  • 62 Crucifixion of Apostle Andrew in Patras.
  • ca. 95 Apocalypse of John written on the island of Patmos.
  • 96 Martyrdom of Dionysius the Areopagite of the Seventy.
  • 100 Death of St. John the Theologian in Ephesus.

Ante-Nicene era (100-325)

Patriarchate of Rome Era (325-732)

Nicene era (325-451)

Early Byzantine era (451-843)

Eastern Roman Empire ca.480, showing the extent of Koine Greek.
The Byzantine Empire during its greatest territorial extent under Justinian. ca.550.
Byzantine Empire by 650; by this year it lost all of its southern provinces except the Exarchate of Carthage.
The Byzantine Empire at the accession of Leo III, ca.717. Striped area is land raided by the Arabs.

Patriarchate of Constantinople Era (732-1850)

  • 732-33 Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian transfers Southern Italy (Sicily and Calabria), Greece, and the Aegean from the jurisdiction of the Pope to that of the Ecumenical Patriarch in response to Pope St. Gregory III of Rome's support of a revolt in Italy against iconoclasm, adding to the Patriarchate about 100 bishoprics; the Iconoclast emperors took away from the Patriarch of Antioch 24 episcopal sees of Byzantine Isauria, on the plea that he was a subject of the Arab caliphs; the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople became co-extensive with the limits of the Byzantine Empire.
  • 734 Death of Peter the Athonite, commonly regarded as one of the first hermits of Mount Athos.
  • 739 Emperor Leo III (717-41) publishes his Ecloga , designed to introduce Christian principle into law; Byzantine forces defeat Umayyad invasion of Asia Minor at Battle of Akroinon.
  • 746 Byzantine forces regain Cyprus from the Arabs.
  • 754 Iconoclastic Council held in Constantinople under the authority of Emperor Constantine V Copronymus, condemning icons and declaring itself to be the Seventh Ecumenical Council; Constantine begins dissolution of the monasteries.
  • 787 Seventh Ecumenical Council held in Nicea, condemning iconoclasm and affirming veneration of icons.
  • 789 Death of Philaret the Merciful.
  • 803 Death of Irene of Athens, wife of Byzantine Emperor Leo IV; St. Luke's icon brought to Agiassos on Mytiline.
  • 814 Bulgarians lay siege to Constantinople; conflict erupts between Emperor Leo V and Patr. Nicephorus on the subject of iconoclasm; Leo deposes Nicephorus, Nicephorus excommunicates Leo.
  • 824 Byzantine Crete falls to Arab insurgents fleeing from the Umayyad Emir of Cordoba Al-Hakam I, establishing an emirate on the island until the Byzantine reconquest in 960.
  • 828 Death of Patr. Nicephorus I of Constantinople.
  • ca. 829-842 Icon of the Panagia Portaitissa appears on Mount Athos near Iviron Monastery.
  • 836 Death of Theodore the Studite.
  • 838 Caliph al-Mu'tasim captures and destroys Ammoria in Anatolia.
  • ca. 839 First Rus'-Byzantine War, where the Rus attacked Propontis (probably aiming for Constantinople) before turning east and raiding Paphlagonia.
  • 840 Panagia Proussiotissa icon found near Karpenissi.

Byzantine Imperial era (843-1204)

Byzantine Empire, ca. 867 AD.
The Byzantine Empire under Basil II - ca. 1025.
The Byzantine Empire and its themata in 1045. At this point, the Empire was the most powerful state in the Mediterranean.

Latin Occupation (1204-1456)

The beginning of Frangokratia: the division of the Byzantine Empire after the Fourth Crusade.
Eastern Mediterranean ca. 1263AD.
  • 1265-1310 Arsenite Schism of Constantinople, beginning when Patr. Arsenius Autoreianos excommunicated emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.
  • 1274 Orthodox attending the Second Council of Lyons, accept supremacy of Rome and filioque clause.
  • 1275 Unionist Patr. of Constantinople John XI Beccus elected to replace Patr. Joseph I Galesiotes, who opposed Council of Lyons.
  • 1275 Persecution of Athonite monks by Emp. Michael VIII and Patr. John XI Beccus; death of 26 martyrs of Zographou monastery on Mount Athos, martyred by the Latins.
  • 1281 Pope Martin IV authorizes a Crusade against the newly re-established Byzantine Empire in Constantinople, excommunicating Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and the Greeks and renouncing the union of 1274; French and Venetian expeditions set out toward Constantinople but are forced to turn back in the following year due to the Sicilian Vespers.
  • 1283 Accommodation with Rome officially repudiated.
  • 1287 Last record of Western Rite Monastery of Amalfion on Mount Athos.
  • 14th c. "Golden Age" of Thessaloniki in both literature and art, many churches and monasteries built.
  • 1300-1400 The "Chronicle of Morea" (Το χρονικό του Μορέως) narrates events of the establishment of feudalism in mainland Greece, mainly in the Morea/Peloponnese, by the Franks following the Fourth Crusade, covering a period from 1204 to 1292.
  • 1309 Rhodes falls to the Knights of St. John, who establish their headquarters there, renaming themselves the "Knights of Rhodes".
  • 1310 Arsenite Schism of Constantinople is brought to an end by the reconciliation of the Arsenites to the Josephites.
  • 1326 The city of Prusa in Asia Minor falls to the Ottoman Turks after a nine-year siege.
  • 1331 The city of Nicaea, capital of the Empire only 100 years previously, falls to the Ottoman Turks.
  • 1336 Meteora in Greece are established as a center of Orthodox monasticism.
  • 1337 Nicomedia captured by Ottoman Turks.
  • 1338 Gregory Palamas writes Triads in defense of the Holy Hesychasts, defending the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus Prayer.
  • 1341-47 Byzantine civil war between John VI Cantacuzenus (1347–54) and John V Palaeologus (1341–91).
  • 1341-51 Three sessions of the Ninth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople, affirming hesychastic theology of Gregory Palamas and condemning rationalistic philosophy of Barlaam of Calabria.
  • 1354 Ottoman Turks make first settlement in Europe at Gallipoli.
  • 1359 Death of Gregory Palamas.
  • 1360 Death of John Koukouzelis the Hymnographer.
  • 1365 Ottoman Turks made Adrianople their capital.
  • 1382 Founding of the Great Meteora Monastery.
  • 1390 Ottomans take Philadelphia, last significant Byzantine enclave in Anatolia.
  • 1391-98 Ottoman Turks unsuccessfully besiege Constantinople for the first time.
Eastern Mediterranean ca.1450 AD.

Ottoman Turkish Occupation (1456-1821)

Greek War of Independence (1821-1829)

  • 1821 Greek War of Independance begins as Metr. Germanos of Patra declares Greek independence on Day of Annunciation (March 25), also Kyriopascha, at the Monastery of Agia Lavra, Peloponessos; martyrdom of Patr. Gregory V of Constantinople, Abp. Kyprianos of Cyprus, and Abp. Gerasimos of Crete in retaliation; Former Ecumenical Patr. Cyril VI of Constantinople is hanged at the gate of Adrianople's cathedral; Metropolitans Gregorios of Derkon, Dorotheos of Adrianople, Ioannikios of Tyrnavos, and Joseph of Thessaloniki are decapitated on Sultan orders in Constantinople; Metropolitans Chrysanthos of Paphos, Meletios of Kition and Lavrentios of Kyrenia are executed in Nicosia, Cyprus; liberation fighters started calling themselves "Hellenes" (for continuity with their ancient Hellenic heritage), rather than using the generic "Romioi" (Ρωμιοί) (which referred to both their Roman citizenship and religious affiliation to Orthodox Christendom).
  • 1823 Wonderworking Icon of Panagia Evangelistria found on Tinos, led by a vision from Pelagia of Tinos, becoming the most venerated pilgrimage item in Greece, at the Church of Evangelistria; martyrdom of Hieromonk Christos of Ioannina.
  • 1827 Europe recognises the autonomy of Greece.
  • 1828 John Capodistrias first president of Greece and confiscates Athonite metochia; Greek church opened in London (2nd time).
  • 1829 Treaty of Adrianople ends Greek War of Independence, culminating in the creation of the modern Greek state.

First Hellenic Republic (1829-1832)

  • ca. 1829 The purified and formal Katharevousa dialect of Modern Greek is promoted as the official language (to 1976).
  • 1831 The fully sovereign status of Greece was accepted at the London Conference of 1831.
  • 1832 European powers establish Greek protectorate; Otho I enthroned as Greek King.

Kingdom of Greece (1833-1924)

  • 1832-35 "Bavarokratia" closes down 600 monasteries and nationalises monastic land-holdings
  • 1833 The National Assembly at Nauplio declares the Church of Greece as independant from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
  • 1834 Suppression of many monasteries in the new Greek kingdom.
  • 1837 School of Theology at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens founded.
  • 1838 Death of New Martyr George of Ioannina.
  • 1839 Theofilos Kairis of Andros condemned and imprisoned for teaching a form of Deism.
  • 1844 Prime Minister Ioannis Kolettis first coined the expression the "Great Idea" (Megali Idea), envisaging the restoration of the Christian Orthodox Byzantine Empire with its capital once again established at Constantinople, becoming the core of Greek foreign policy until the early 20th century; King Otho I accepts constitution.

Autocephalous Era (1850-Present)

The expansion of Greece from 1832 to 1947, showing territories awarded to Greece in 1919 but lost in 1923.
  • 1850 Endemousa Synod in Constantinople presided over by by Patriarch Anthimos IV of Constantinople recognised Autocephaly of the Church of Greece; due to certain conditions issued in the "Tomos" decree, the Greek National Church must maintain special links to the "Mother Church".
  • 1856 Death of Neophytus Vamvas, Greek cleric and educator who had translated the Bible into Modern Greek.
  • 1863 George I enthroned as King of Greece.
  • 1864 First Orthodox parish established on American soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Greeks.
  • 1866 Greek church takes the diocese of the Ionian Islands from Constantinople; beginning of the Great Cretan Revolution (1866-1869); the holocaust of Arkadi Monastery in Crete.
  • 1871 Body of Patriarch Gregory V returned to Athens and entombed in cathedral.
  • 1877 Death of Arsenios of Paros (August 18).
  • 1878 Council of Athens, convened and presided over by Metropolitan Procopius I of Athens, condemned the Makrakists, obtaining closure of Makakris' "School of the Logos" on the pretext that it taught doctrines opposed to the tenets of the Church, and addressed an encyclical to the whole body of Christians in Greece that was read in the churches, charging Makrakis with attempting to introduce innovations.
  • 1878 Cyprus is ceded to Britain by Ottoman Empire at the Congress of Berlin.
  • 1881 Turks cede Thessali and Arta regions to Greece; Thessaly and part of Epirus added to the Church of Greece.
  • 1882 During the Patriarchate of Joachim III, the Great School of the Nation was housed in a new large building in the area of the Phanar.
  • 1888 Death of Panagis of Lixouri (Cephalonia); Typikon of the Great Church of Christ is published with revised church services, prepared by Protopsaltis George Violakis, issued with the approval and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch, while the Sabaite (monastic) Typikon continues to be used in Russia (i.e. from 1682-1888 the Greek and Russian Churches had shared a common Typikon).
  • 1890-1917 Emigration of 450,000 Greeks to the United States, many as hired labor for the railroads and mines of the American West.
  • 1885 Prominent Greek painter Nicholaos Gysis paints the famous "Secret school" ("κρυφό σχολειό"), refering to the underground schools provided by the Greek Orthodox Church in monasteries and churches during the time of Ottoman rule in Greece (15th-19th c.) for keeping alive Orthodox Christian doctrines and Greek language and literacy.
  • 1897 Greco-Turkish War.
  • 1901 "Evangelakia" riots in Athens Greece in November, over translations of New Testament into Demotic (Modern) Greek, resulting in fall of both government and Metropolitan of Athens, and withdrawal of publications from circulation.
  • 1902 Church of Greece takes responsibility for Greek Orthodox parishes in Australasia from the Church of Jerusalem.
  • 1904 Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes the "Patriarchal" Text of the Greek New Testament, based on about twenty Byzantine manuscripts, the standard text of the Greek-speaking Orthodox churches today.
  • 1905 Death of Apostolos Makrakis.
  • 1907 Archim. Eusebius Matthopoulos founds Zoe Brotherhood.
  • 1908 Death of Methodia of Kimolos; jurisdiction of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia was given to the Church of Greece under an agreement made between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Holy Synod of Athens (until 1922 in America; until 1924 in Australia).
  • 1912 Epirus, Macedonia and eastern islands, from Northern territories of Greece, are liberated and come under the administration of the Greek Church.
  • 1912-13 First and Second Balkan Wars; liberation of Thessaloniki from the Turks.
  • 1913-14 Greeks anex Crete, Chios and Mytiline, World War I.
  • 1914 According to the Corfu Protocol Northern Epirus is granted autonomy within Albania; Byzantine & Christian Museum is founded in Athens, becoming one of the most important museums in the world in Byzantine Art.
  • 1917 Hierarchy of the Greek Church changed in accordance with political control of the country.
  • 1918-24 Emigration of 70,000 Greeks to the United States.
  • 1919-22 Greco-Turkish War; a million refugees flee to Greece joining half a million Greeks who had fled earlier; Greek Genocide eliminates the Christian population of Trebizond and Anatolia.
  • 1920 Death of Nektarios of Pentapolis (Aegina); Chryssanthos, Bp. of Trebizond is condemned to death in absentio by a Court Martial in Ankara; Dodecanese Islands ceded to Greece by Italy; publication of Encyclical Letters by Constantinople on Christian unity and on the Ecumenical Movement; Treaty of Sèvres cedes Eastern Thrace and Ionia (Zone of Smyrna) to Greece, but is superceded in 1923 by the Treaty of Lausanne by which these areas were again lost.
  • 1921 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America formed.
  • 1922 Metropolis of Aitolia and Akarnania founded in its modern form; death of Ethnomartyr Metropolitan Chrysostomos (Kalafatis) of Smyrna, lynched by a Turkish mob incited by Nureddin Pasha on Sunday September 10; Greek troops advancing on Constantinople are routed by Turks; the predominatly Orthodox Christian city of Smyrna is destroyed, ending 1900 years of Christian civilization; Patriarch Meletios IV transferred the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America from the Church of Greece back to the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople.
  • 1923 Exchange of Christian and Moslem population between Greece and Turkey; Treaty of Lausanne affirmed the international status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with Turkey guaranteeing respect and the Patriarchate’s full protection, also granting control of the Holy Mountain to Greece; Patriarch ceases to be regarded as head of the Christian Orthodox Millet in Turkey; Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis promulgates reformed calendar.
  • 1924 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia founded; death of Arsenios the Cappadocian.

Second Hellenic Republic (1924-1935)

  • 1924 Death of Arsenios of Cappadocia; Constitution of the Holy Mountain agreed; Greek government adopts new calendar.
  • 1925 School of Theology established at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • 1925-45 Emigration of less than 30,000 Greeks to the United States, many of whom were "picture brides" for single Greek men.
  • 1926 Proposal for Mount Athos to be turned into a Casino by Dictator Pangalos.
  • 1928 The Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a tome by which it ceded to the Church of Greece on a temporary basis 35 of its metropolitan dioceses in northern Greece to be administered by it.
  • 1930 Mustapha Kemal Atatürk officially renamed Constantinople to Istanbul, which comes from the Greek expression "eis tin poli" (to the City) .
  • 1931 Benaki Museum opens in Athens, housing Byzantine, Post-Byzantine, and Neo-Hellenic ecclesiastical and national art collections.
  • 1932 Death of Papa-Nicholas (Planas).
  • 1933 Church of Greece bans Freemasonry.
  • 1935 Old Calendar schism, when three bishops declared their separation from the official Church of Greece stating that the calendar change was a schismatic act; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed Hagia Sophia into a museum.

Kingdom of Greece Restored (1935-1967)

Military Dictatorship (1967-1974)

  • 1968 Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC) founded.
  • 1970 Death of Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos.
  • 1971 Halki Seminary, Orthodoxy's most prominent theological school, is closed by Turkish authorities breaching Article 40 of the Lausanne Treaty and Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution which both guarantee religious freedom and education.
  • 1972 Ecclesiastical coup in Cyprus fails to remove Makarios from the Presidency.
  • 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Turkish forces advance capturing the 37% of the island, 3,000 are killed or missing, 200,000 become refugees; the Monarchy is voted out by a plebiscite vote of 69%.

Third Hellenic Republic (1974-Present)

  • 1974 Esphigmenou Monastery (Athos), a stronghold for the conservative Greek Old Calendarists, withdrew its representative from the common meetings of the Holy Community at Karyes (the administrative center of Mount Athos), accusing the Patriarchate of being ecumenist, and refusing to commemorate the Patriarch; Metropolitan Seraphim of Ioannina is elected Archbishop of Athens and all Greece (1974-1998).
  • 1975 Death of Papa-Dimitris (Gagastathis); Article 3 of the Greek Constitution officially declares the prevailing religion in Greece as Eastern Orthodoxy under the authority of the autocephalous Church of Greece, united in doctrine to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • 1976 The Dimotiki (Demotic) dialect of Modern Greek was made the official language, replacing the purified and formal Katharevousa dialect of Modern Greek which had been in use for nearly two centuries since foundation of the modern Greek state.
  • 1978 Abortions are legalised in Greece but only under certain specific circumstances.
  • 1980 Death of Elder Philotheos (Zervakos) of Paros; Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue, 1st plenary, met in Patmos and Rhodes.
  • 1981 Greece becomes the 10th member of the European Community, January 1; Adultery is decriminalized in the penal code.
  • 1982 Monotonic orthography was imposed by law on the Greek language, however the Greek Orthodox Church continues to use polytonic orthography.
  • 1983 Death of Elder Arsenios the cave-dweller of Mt. Athos.
  • 1984 Orthodox-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, 3rd plenary, meets in Khania, Crete.
  • 1986 Root of Jesse icon of the Mother of God in Andros begins gushing myrrh; glorification of Arsenios the Cappadocian (+1924) by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
  • 1987 In April, parliament approved a law to expropriate monastic land in order to redistribute some to poor peasants, and to take over administration of urban church-owned assets; Abp. Seraphim (Tikas) of Athens was victorious however in preventing the government from expropriating church landholdings, by allowing some land redistribution while opposing nationalisation of church and monastery land.
  • 1988 Mount Athos is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site; radio station "Church of Piraeus 91.2 FM" begins transmitting in October.
  • 1989 Elder Ephraim of Philotheou begins founding Athonite-style monasteries in North America.
  • 1990 The Friends of Mount Athos society is formed by people sharing a common interest for the monasteries of Mount Athos, with Metr. Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia being the President of the society, also including Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh) and Prince Charles (Prince of Wales and Heir Apparent to the British throne) among its members.
  • 1991 Death of Elder Porphyrios (Bairaktaris) the Kapsokalivite (Evangelos (Bairaktaris)) February 7.
  • 1992 Deaths of Gabrielia (Papayannis) and Chrysanthi of Andros; Synaxis of primates of Orthodox churches in Constantinople; Thessaloniki was selected as the cultural capital of Europe.
  • 1993 Church of Cyprus condemned Freemasonry as a religion incompatible with Christianity; canonization of Chrysostomos (Kalafatis) of Smyrna.
  • 1994 Death of Elder Paisios (Eznepidis) of Mt. Athos July 12; Museum of Byzantine Culture is inaugurated in Thessaloniki; Greek Parliament passes a resolution affirming the genocide in the Pontus region of Asia Minor and designated May 19 a day of commemoration.
  • 1995 Death of Eldress Macrina of Volos; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visits Patmos as part of the celebration of the 1,900th anniversary of the writing of the Book of Revelation by the Evangelist John.
  • 1997 A bomb explodes at the Patriarchate of Constantinople, seriously injuring Orthodox deacon Nectarius Nikolou and damaging several buildings.
  • 1998 Death of Elder Ephraim of Katounakia; Thessaloniki Summit held to discuss Orthodox participation in WCC; Archbishop Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) was enthroned in Athens as the new head of the Greek Orthodox Church (1998-2008); a proposal to force the separation of church and state in Greece was rejected; Greek parliament affirmed the genocide of Greeks in Asia Minor as a whole (Pontian and Anatolian Ottoman Greeks), and designated September 14 a day of commemoration.
  • 2000 Government of Greece orders removal of compulsory reference to religious affiliation on state identity cards, despite campaigns against this from the Church of Greece and the majority of the public.
  • 2001 Death of Elder Haralambos Dionysiatis, teacher of noetic prayer; on the first trip to Greece by a Pope since AD 710, Pope John Paul II of Rome apologizes to Orthodox Church for Fourth Crusade; a day earlier some 1,000 Orthodox conservatives took to the streets to denounce his visit; in March, Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens blessed the Hellenic Genocide Petition Effort, which urged that the government not violate Law 2675/98 by deleting the term "genocide" when explaining the destruction of Hellenism in Asia Minor; Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens visits the Patriarchate of Moscow, being also received by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • 2002 Metropolis of Glyfada is established as a new metropolis separating from Metropolis of Nea Smyrni; Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens consented to the construction of a mosque in Athens to end the situation of the Greek capital being the only EU capital without a Muslim place of worship; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople declared the monks of Esphigmenou Monastery (Athos) as being in schism with the Orthodox Church.
  • 2003 Orthodox Churches in Europe commemorated the 550th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople in May; the Greek Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos informs Europarliament session that the status of the monasteries on Holy Mount Athos and its way of life will remain unchanged, citing official recognition of this status fixed in Article 105 of the Greek Constitution and also legally confirmed in the special Athens Treaty clause specifying conditions on which Greece joined the European Union; in February, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church issued a statement opposing the threat of war in Iraq.
  • 2003 Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens has falling out with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew over who should have the final say in the appointment of bishops in northern Greece, but rift is mended four months later; the proposal to build a mosque outside Athens before the 2004 Olympics was blocked due to opposition from residents and Greece's Orthodox Church which disagreed with the location and plans for the funding for the multimillion-pound mosque to come from Saudi Arabia's King Fahd.
  • 2004 In September, a helicopter carrying Patr. Petros VII (Papapetrou) of Alexandria along with 16 others (including 3 other bishops of the Church of Alexandria) crashed into the Aegean Sea while en route to the monastic community of Mount Athos with no survivors.
  • 2005 Church of Greece hosted the WCC World Conference on Mission and Evangelism in Athens, the first in an Orthodox country in the history of this body; in October, the "Grey Wolves" Turkish terrorist group staged a rally outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, proceeding to the gate where they laid a black wreath, chanting "Patriarch Leave" and "Patriarchate to Greece", inaugurating the campaign for the collection of signatures to oust the Ecumenical Patriarchate from Istanbul; Britain's Prince Charles arrived on the monastic community of Mount Athos for a three-day visit in May; Vladimir Putin becomes the first Russian state leader to visit Mount Athos.
  • 2006 Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens visits Vatican, the first head of the Church of Greece to visit the Vatican, reciprocating the Pope's visit to Greece in 2001, signing a Joint Declaration on the importance of the Christian roots of Europe and protecting fundamental human rights; government of Greece announces it will fund and build a €15 million (US$19 million) new mosque in Athens, to be the the first working mosque in the Greek capital since the end of Ottoman rule over 170 years prior, welcomed by Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens and the Church of Greece in accordance with its established position; Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens castigated globalisation as a "crime against humanity"; Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis goes on a three-day pilgrimmage to Mount Athos; Pope Benedict XVI met with Greek Orthodox Seminarians from the Apostoliki Diakonia theology college in Greece who were visiting Rome, urging them to confront the challenges that threaten the faith by working to unify all Christians; a ruling by a first-instance court in Athens approved the formation of an association of people who worship the 12 gods of Mount Olympus, linked to New Age practises by the Church of Greece.
  • 2006 The church reported that there were 216 men’s monastic communities and 259 for women along with 66 sketes, with a total of 1,041 monks and 2,500 nuns, witnessing to a modern modest revival in monasticism; in September, barely 48 hours after a Somali Islamic cleric called for Muslims to kill the Pope, Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens told a sermon in Athens that Christians in Africa were suffering at the hands of "fanatic Islamists", citing the example of Roman Catholic monks who were slaughtered the previous year "because they wore the cross and believed in our crucified Lord"; Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens criticized the authors of a state issued elementary school sixth grade history textbook, as attempting to conceal the Church's role in defending Greek national identity during Ottoman occupation, the book being later removed in 2007; death of Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios, having authored thousands of recorded lectures in the spirit of patristic traditional Orthodoxy.
  • 2007 Greek Minority Lyceum at the Phanar (Megali tou Genous Sxoli - today a middle and high school of the Greek minority) wins a judgement condemning Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), for violation of the European Convention On Human Rights (protection of property); 1600th anniversary celebration of the repose of John Chrysostom; the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed the IAGS Resolution on Genocides Against Assyrians, Greeks, Armenians, and Other Christians by the Ottoman Empire 13 July 2007, affirming that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities between 1914-1923 was genocide; a half-finished painting in the Church of the Holy Virgin in Axioupolis, northern Greece, of Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin cutting off the beard of St Luke - painted as a symbol of communist oppression of the Church - offended traditionalists who wanted it removed.
  • 2008 Death of Abp. Christodoulos (Paraskevaides) of Athens, proving to be one of the most popular archbishops in Greek history, reviving the appeal of the Church in a secular age, especially among young people; Abp. Ieronymos II (Liapis) of Athens elected; Glorification of George (Karslidis) of Drama; Pan-Orthodox meeting in Constantinople in October of the Primates of the fourteen Orthodox Churches, signing a document calling for inter-orthodox unity and collaboration and "the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council"; the 13-member standing committee of the Church of Greece denounced government plans to introduce a civil partnerships law, saying government support for common law marriage would amount to state-sanctioned “prostitution.”
  • 2009 The European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey violated the property rights of the Bozcaada Kimisis Teodoku Greek Orthodox Church on the Aegean island of Bozcaada; the Ecumenical Patriarchate has filed more than two dozen cases with the ECHR to recover some of the thousands of properties it has lost; US President Barack Obama made an explicit appeal in his speech to the Turkish Parliament for the reopening of the hotly contested Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki, viewed by the European Union and others as a test case for religious freedom in Turkey; a delegation from the Orthodox Church of Greece headed by Metropolitan Nectarios of Kerkira, Paxoi and Diapontioi Nisoi visited several monasteries in West Ukraine on April 28-29; Patr. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of the Oriental Church of Antioch went on an official visit to Greece, as the guests of the Greek Government and the Greek Orthodox Church to congratulate the new Abp. of the Greek Church and to renew the relationship between both churches; Elder Joseph of Vatopedi reposes peacefully, funeral service held July 1; Russian Orthodox Patr. Kirill called on Turkish authorities to re-open the Theological Seminary on Halki; over 1,000 Muslims rallied in the city streets of Athens over unsubstantiated claims that Greek police allegedly tore up and trampled on the Quran, smashing 75 cars, injuring 14 people, overturning trash bins and attacking banks.

See also


  • Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
  • The division of Church History into separate eras as we do here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though we have tried to group periods according to major watershed events.
  • This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy.

Church and State

The Orthodox Church in Greece has been considered historically as the protector of the so-called “Hellenic Orthodox Civilization.” The actual role of the Orthodox Church since the creation of the Greek nation-state has been interpreted in many diverse and opposing ways; nevertheless, in all Greek Constitutions the Orthodox Church is accorded the status of the “prevailing religion".
Article 3 of Greece's Constitution defines the relations between the Church and the State :

"The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and synodal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928."[4]

Greece is the only Orthodox state in the world. The relationship between the Church and the State can be characterized as sui generis, since there is no complete separation nor is there an established church. The Church is the State-Church. The role of the Orthodox Church in maintaining Greek ethnic and cultural identity during the 400 years of Ottoman rule has strengthened the bond between religion and government. Most Greeks, whether personally religious or not, revere and respect the Orthodox Christian faith, attend church and major feast days, and are emotionally attached to Orthodox Christianity as their "national" religion.

Names of the Greeks

The Greeks have been known by a number of different names throughout history. Their rise to great heights of power and lapse to near complete destruction were situations that were repeated more than once, which is perhaps why they are such a polyonymous people. The onset of every new historical era was accompanied by a new name, either completely new or old but forgotten, extracted from tradition or borrowed from foreigners. Every single one of them was significant in its own time. From ancient times to the present these included:

  • Achaeans (Αχαιοί)
  • Hellenes (Έλληνες)
  • Graeci (Γραικοί)
  • Romans (Ρωμαίοι)
  • Byzantines (Βυζαντινοί)
  • Romioi (Ρωμιοί)

Patriarchate of Rome

The Byzantine "themes" of Greece rebelled against the iconoclast emperor Leo III in 727 and attempted to set up their own emperor, although Leo defeated them. Up to this time Greece and the Aegean were still technically under the ecclesiastic authority of the Pope, but Leo also quarreled with the Papacy; the defiant attitude of Popes St. Gregory II and St. Gregory III, who summoned councils in Rome to anathematize and excommunicate the iconoclasts (730, 732) on behalf of image-veneration, led to a fierce quarrel with the emperor. Leo retaliated however by transferring the territories of southern Italy, Greece and the Aegean from the papal diocese to that of the the Patriarch of Constantinople, in effect throwing the Papacy out of the Empire.
Previously the lands which Leo ΙΙΙ now placed under the authority of the Church of Constantinople, although subject to the civil rule of the emperor of Constantinople ever since the end of 395, had nevertheless depended upon Rome ecclesiastically, except for a few brief interruptions including:

  • In 421 (when a decree enacted by Emperor Theodosius II placed all churches within the pale of the Illyricum prefecture (then part of the Eastern Empire) subject to the Archbishop of Constantinople).
  • In 438, through the Theodosian Codex, Illyricum was again placed under Constantinopolitan jurisdiction.
  • To some extent during the Acacian schism, 484-519.

Praetorian Prefecture of Illyricum
The Prefecture of Illyricum was named after the former province of Illyricum and was one of the four principal divisions of the Empire instituted by Diocletian. It originally included two dioceses, the Diocese of Pannoniae and the Diocese of Moesiae. The Diocese of Pannoniae did not belong to the cultural Greek half of the empire, and it was transferred to the western empire when Theodosius I fixed the final split of the two empires in 395.

The Diocese of Moesiae (later split into two dioceses: the Diocese of Macedonia and the Diocese of Dacia) was the area known as "Eastern Illyricum", and in view of the detailed list of provinces given by Pope Nicholas Ι (858-67) in a letter in which he demanded the retrocession of the churches removed from papal jurisdiction in 732-33, this area seems to have been the region affected by Emperor Leo's punitive action.

  • The Diocese of Macedonia consisted of seven provinces: Achaia, Creta, Thessalia, Epirus vetus, Epirus nova, Macedonia Prima, Macedoniae salutaris (Secunda).
  • The Diocese of Dacia consisted of five provinces: Dacia mediterranea, Dacia ripensis, Moesia Prima, Dardania, Praevalitana.

Published works

Byzantine Era

  • Rev. Dr. Andrew Louth. Greek East and Latin West : The Church, AD 681-1071. The Church in History Vol. III. Crestwood, N.Y. : St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2007. ISBN 9780881413205
  • John Meyendorff. The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church. Crestwood, N.Y. : St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1982. ISBN 9780913836903
  • John Meyendorff. Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes. 2nd ed. Fordham Univ Press, 1979. ISBN 9780823209675
  • J. M. Hussey. Church & Learning in the Byzantine Empire, 867-1185. Oxford University Press, 1937.
  • Milton V. Anastos. Aspects of the Mind of Byzantium: Political Theory, Theology, and Ecclesiastical Relations with the See of Rome. Ashgate Publications, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2001.
  • Milton V. Anastos. "The transfer of Illyricum, Calabria, and Sicily to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 732-33." In: Anastos, Studies in Byzantine Intellectual History. Variorum Collected Studies Series, London, 1979.
  • Prof. Fergus Millar. A Greek Roman Empire: Power and Belief under Theodosius II (408-450). University of California Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0520253919
  • Fr. Robert F. Taft (S.J.), Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute. Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It. InterOrthodox Press, 2006. 172 pp. (ISBN 1932401067; ISBN 9781932401066)
  • Speros Vryonis, (Jr). "Byzantine Attitudes towards Islam during the Late Middle Ages." Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 12 (1971).
  • Steven Runciman. The Byzantine Theocracy. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780521545914
  • Timothy S. Miller. Medieval Byzantine Christianity. Ed. by Derek Krueger. A People's History of Christianity, Vol. 3. Minneapolis, Fortress Press. 2006. pp.252.

Latin Occupation

  • Aristeides Papadakis (with John Meyendorff). The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy: The Church 1071-1453 A.D. The Church in History Vol. IV. Crestwood, N.Y. : St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1994. ISBN 9780881410587
  • Deno John Geanakoplos. Byzantine East and Latin West: Two worlds of Christendom in Middle Ages and Renaissance: Studies in Ecclesiastical and Cultural History. Oxford Blackwell 1966. ISBN 9780208016157
  • E. Brown. "The Cistercians in the Latin Empire of Constantinople and Greece." Traditio 14 (1958), pp.63-120.
  • Kenneth M. Setton. Catalan Domination of Athens, 1311-1388. Mediaeval Academy of America, 1948.
  • P. Charanis. "Byzantium, the West and the Origin of the First Crusade." Byzantion 19 (1949), pp.17-36.
  • R. Wolff. "The Organisation of the Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople 1204-61." Traditio 6 (1948), pp.33-60.
  • William Miller. The Latins in the Levant: A History of Frankish Greece 1204-1566. Cambridge, Speculum Historiale, 1908.

Ottoman Turkish Occupation

  • Apostolos E. Vacalopoulos. The Greek Nation, 1453-1669: The Cultural and Economic Background of Modern Greek Society. Transl. from Greek. Rutgers University Press, 1975. ISBN 9780813508108 (One of the few scholarly studies in English of this period)
  • Bat Ye'or. The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude: Seventh-Twentieth Century. Translated by Miriam Kochan. Published by Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996. 522pp. ISBN 9780838636886
  • Fr. Nomikos Michael Vaporis. Witnesses for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000. 377 pp. ISBN 9780881411966
  • George P. Henderson. The Revival of Greek Thought, 1620-1830. State University of New York Press, 1970. ISBN 9780873950695 (Focuses on the intellectual revivial preceeding the War of Independence in 1821)
  • George A. Maloney, (S.J.). A History of Orthodox Theology Since 1453. Norland Publishing, Massachusetts, 1976.
  • Leften S. Stavrianos. The Balkans Since 1453. Rinehart & Company, New York, 1958.
  • Speros Vryonis, (Jr). The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1971. (Very comprehensive, masterpiece of scholarship)
  • Steven Runciman. The Great Church in Captivity: A Study of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eve of the Turkish Conquest to the Greek War of Independence. Cambridge University Press,1986.
  • Theodore H. Papadopoulos. Studies and Documents Relating to the History of the Greek Church and People Under Turkish Domination. 2nd ed. Variorum, Hampshire, Great Britain, 1990. (Scholarly; Source texts in Greek)
  • Elizabeth A. Zachariadou. The Great Church in captivity 1453–1586. Eastern Christianity. Ed. Michael Angold. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Cambridge Histories Online.
  • Elizabeth A. Zachariadou. Mount Athos and the Ottomans c. 1350–1550. Eastern Christianity. Ed. Michael Angold. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Cambridge Histories Online.
  • I. K. Hassiotis. From the 'Refledging' to the 'Illumination of the Nation': Aspects of Political Ideology in the Greek Church Under Ottoman Domination. Balkan Studies 1999 40(1): 41-55.
  • Socrates D. Petmezas. Christian Communities in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Ottoman Greece: Their Fiscal Functions. Princeton Papers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 2005 12: 71-127.

Greek War of Independence

  • David Brewer. The Greek War of Independence : the struggle for freedom from Ottoman oppression and the birth of the modern Greek nation. Woodstock, N.Y. : Overlook Press, 2001. 393pp.
  • Douglas Dakin. The Greek struggle for independence, 1821-1833. London, Batsford 1973.
  • Joseph Braddock. The Greek Phoenix: The Struggle for Liberty from the Fall of Constantinople to the Creation of a New Greek Nation. NY. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. 1973. 1st ed. 233pp.
  • Nikiforos P. Diamandouros [et al] (Eds.). Hellenism and the First Greek war of Liberation (1821-1830) : Continuity and Change. The Modern Greek Studies Association of the United States and Canada. Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1976.

Modern Greece

  • Anastasios Anastassiadis. Religion and Politics in Greece: The Greek Church's 'Conservative Modernization' in the 1990's. Research in Question, No.11, January 2004. (PDF).
  • C.M. Woodhouse. Modern Greece. 4th ed. Boston : Faber and Faber, 1986.
  • Charles A. Frazee. The Orthodox Church and independent Greece, 1821-1852. Cambridge University Press 1969.
  • Demetrios J. Constantelos. The Greek Orthodox Church: Faith, History, and Practice. Seabury Press, 1967.
  • John Hadjinicolaou (Ed.). Synaxis: An Anthology of the Most Significant Orthodox Theology in Greece Appearing in the Journal Synaxē from 1982 to 2002. Montréal : Alexander Press, 2006.
  • John L. Tomkinson. Between Heaven and Earth: The Greek Church. Anagnosis Books, Athens, 2004. ISBN 960-87186-5-1
  • Mother Nectaria McLees. EVLOGEITE! A Pilgrim's Guide to Greece. 1st Ed. St. Nicholas Press, Kansas City, MO, 2002. 927 pp. ISBN 09716365-1-6
  • Rev. Dr. Nicon D. Patrinacos (M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon)). A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy - Λεξικον Ελληνικης Ορθοδοξιας. Light & Life Publishing, Minnesota, 1984.