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Greek Community100th Anniversary of Asia Minor Catastrophe: St. Stefanos, Meteora Monastery Exhibit

100th Anniversary of Asia Minor Catastrophe: St. Stefanos, Meteora Monastery Exhibit

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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By Catherine Tsounis

“Greece is one, an undivided, immeasurable Mother, reflecting the Greek soul”- poet Kostis Palamas, Song of the Refugee

St. Stefanos Monastery in Meteora, Greece is a nunnery with a unique pictorial exhibit. “1922-2022, 100 years since the Minor Asia Catastrophe: Commemoration and the Uprooting of the Greeks from Asia Minor” was comprehensively displayed. This visit was part of the Kapogiannis Travel 3-day excursion of Volos, Pilias and Meteora for 160 euros with Kostoula Kapogiannis.

Another exhibit was on “100 years Remembrance and Memory of Smyrna, 1922-2022.” Quotes from eyewitnesses and the martyrdom of Metropolitan Chrysostomos are described. Smyrna was the “Paris of the Middle East,” an international business center. Its destruction is referred to in Greek songs and literature.

“The months to not erase. The wounds never heal. The history is not forgotten. The universal recognition of the Asia minor genocide must be recognized. The Greek nation must not forget the forcible approved of the Greek population. Everyone remembers 1453, (Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks). They must remember 1922. Nations that forget their history easily, the triumphs and destructions, are condemned to historical oblivion,” explains the wall document.

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Greek Cities of Asia Minor, St. Stefanos, Meteora. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

A map of Asia Minor (Western Anatolia) pinpointed the three thousand years of Hellenic history .The Greeks. “The Greek spirit is seen in the marbles, numerous churches, history, civilization and perpetuation of Greek culture hidden in the soil of antiquity,” said a quote by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna in the poster. He was dismembered alive Turkish mop in 1922. He was canonized as a saint by the Greek Orthodox Church, along with other clergy.

The late Prof. N. Moutsopoulos said “Ionia (Greek cities in Asia Minor coast) influenced Anatolia, Pontus, and Russian lands. They were prominent in the Byzantine Empire, combining Greek civilization with Christianity. The Greek glory vanished with the Turkish genocide that resulted in the Asia Minor Catastrophe and refugee repopulation in Greece.”
“Our church has clergy who were excellent in their ministry, showed a unique, courageous. With an exceptional devotion to patriotism and faith. They refused to escape and leave their congregation to be slaughtered in the Asia Minor catastrophe. Their martyrdom exemplifies the leadership of the Greek orthodox clergy in leading and protecting their congregations,” The poster showed photos of martyred clergy, beginning with Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna, who became saints.

My grandmothers were born on the island of Mosconisi (modern Cunda,) opposite Lesvos. The 1898 baptismal certificate of Grandmother Despina Gagas is on a letterhead that states “The Holy Archdiocese of Mosconisi”. The island had a significant Greek population to have its own Greek Archdiocese documents. St. Ambrosios, (Ambrosios Pleiathidis)Metropolitan of Mosconisia, was the second leading churchman listed in the Meteora poster that stated: “Loyal to the Greek Orthodox tradition, Metropolitan Ambrosios was ordained Bishop by Metropolitan Chrystosomos of Smyrna at the age of fifty. Some months afterwards, assuming his bishopric ministry, with a direct resolute case, he looked at his persecutors knowing what his fate would be. With courage, he told them ‘you cannot frighten me. I am prepared to die for Jesus Christ, my country (Greek nation). Whatever will be, may it take place. It is God’s will.’ On September 15,1922, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Mosconisia was buried alive in a pit with nine priests, outside the city of Kidonion (Aivali).

Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey, photo by Catherine Tsounis

Other martyred metropolitans canonized as saints include St. Gregory, Metropolitan of Kidonion (Aivali); St. Evthimos, Metropolitan of Zilon; and St. Procopios, Metropolitan of Iconium. They are all known today as the Holy Martyrs of Asia Minor Hellenism.
The St. Stefanos of Meteora exhibit listed the following major Greek cities in Asia Minor Western Anatolia: Smyrna, international city, Agia Fotini cathedral with Bell tower;

Pergamon, rich and powerful ancient city; Antioch, Hellenistic city, education center, cave church of St. Peter; Caesarea, Cappadocia, major Byzantine Empire center, Central Area, underground cities, cave monasteries; Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, Library of Celsus, John the Evangelist tomb, Byzantine fortress; Attaleia, Hadrian’s gate, major Roman city, miraculous icon of Panagia Attaleiotisa; Miletus, great, wealthy city Temple of Apollo Ionian theater, Byzantine fortress; Sevasteia, religious center named after 40 Roman soldiers martyrs; Myra Lykian, St. Nicholas bishop (Santa Claus, Christian rock cut tombs, amphitheater; Nicomedia, aqueduct, Roman marble statues; Tricia, Christian center; Soumela,, Pontus Greek monastery complex; Sardis, Ancient Greek Center and Stratonikeia, largest marble city, 2200 year old theater.

“Every city in Greece is remembering the 100th Anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, “said Prof Isaak Papadopoulos Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at Larnaca College, Cyprus and his wide educator Varvara. My deep appreciation for helping on the Greek Cities of Asia Minor. Dr.Papadopoulos is 3rd. generation from Cappadocia. Varvara is 3rd generation from Pontus.

Exhibit, Asia Minor, St. Stefanos, Meteora. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

I was interested in the positive contribution of Hellenism in Asia Minor. Metropolitan Pavlos of the Metropolis of Drama describes the area accurately. “Asia Minor was the cradle of Hellenism and civilization. The Greeks lived for 3,500 years on the coasts of Asia Minor but also inland, and its space functioned as a center for the spread of Hellenism and as a bridge between Europe and Asia.

The Greek civilization that came from Asia Minor was the result of continuous struggles, work and thought. Science was born there with its empirical and rational character. There, theory and practice were harmoniously combined. There developed the free spirit, the love for independence. There, religion established its spiritual character. Democracy was established there; equality was imposed and balance prevailed. But the arts and techniques also come from there. All this was done over time and forever, from antiquity to the Byzantine era.

photo by Catherine Tsounis

The civilization of Greece at the time of Pericles had been prepared by two or three centuries of high civilization in Asia Minor.

After the fall of Athens, it would perhaps have been extinguished and would not have conquered the West, if it had not rekindled on the shores of Asia Minor, where it had been born and from where the great cities had spread it to the rest of the world.
Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna, Colophon, Clazomenes, Priene, Theos Halicarnassus, Pergamum Nicaea, Amasia are the cities where the sciences were born.

Their representatives are the natural philosophers Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes from Miletus, Anaxagoras from Clazomenes, Heraclitus from Ephesus, the poet and philosopher Xenophanes from Colophon, Byas the Prieneus – one of the seven sages of the aristocracy, the mathematicians Apollonius from Perga, Epparchus from Nicaea of Bithynia, the physician Galen from Pergamum, the geographers Hecataeus of Milesius, Strabo from Amasia of Pontus, Pausanias from Lydia. The architect, town planner, physicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and philosopher Hippodamus from Miletus. The architects Arkesius of Tralles, Pytheos of Halicarnassus, Hermogenes of Prieneus.

The father of History, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, came from Asia Minor. Poetry was born in Asia Minor. Homer came from Smyrna (or Chios). The lyric poets Callinus of Ephesus, Mimnermus of Colophon, Focylides of Milesius, Anacreon from Ionia, Alcmanas from Lydia (or Ionia) were born here.

Christianity was born in Judea but very quickly spread to Asia Minor by the Apostle of the nations Paul. For two years, the Apostle Paul preaches the Gospel of Christ in Ephesus and founds the Church of Ephesus, which was to produce hundreds of church leaders and martyrs. After the death of the Apostle Paul, the Evangelist John comes to Ephesus, who will make Ephesus the center of his teaching and with an unquenchable flame he will go non-stop through the cities and villages of Ionia for thirteen whole years, increasing the number of believers and completing the Paul’s work. Under Emperor Domitian, John will be exiled to Patmos, where he will write the “Apocalypse”, and will return to Ephesus, where he will write his Gospel.

In Asia Minor are the seven Churches of Revelation: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. In the great Ecumenical Synods that took place in the cities of Asia Minor (Nicaea of Bithynia, Ephesus, Chalcedon) the great Fathers of the Church laid the foundations of the doctrine and worship of Christianity. Monasticism flourished in the interior of Asia Minor, on the Olympus of Bithynia, on the slopes of Sipylus northwest of Smyrna, in Cappadocia, in Trebizond. Monasteries, Byzantine churches are built, original works of Byzantine art and iconography are created1.

The best conclusion is based on the factual reporting of Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama. “The Diary of the Holy Metropolitan Drama for 2022 is dedicated to the Hellenism of the Asia Minor and its achievements on the occasion of the sad 100 -year -old anniversary of the Asia Minor Disaster and with the prompt ‘to admire the achievements of Asia Minor, LET’S GATHER AND REORGANIZE OUR SPIRITUAL POWERS FOR THE GOOD OF GREECE’. …the disappearance of the civilization that was a “golden necklace of pearls and sapphires” urges us to reflect, reflect and purify history from the rust that has settled on it due to passions and of our mistakes”. “Let us admire the achievements of Asia Minor Hellenism, let us be inspired by them, For a whole hundred years, we blame and curse only the Turks for what they tragically did.

300 years of History of Asia Minor, St. Stefanos, Meteora. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

We forget the moral authors of the drama, whom we consider our friends and protectors to this day. In a long telegraphic conversation on September 27/28, 1919 with Abdul Kerim Pasha, Mustafa Kemal Pasha confidentially announced to him that “the Americans, the French, the Italians, and finally the English were convinced that our people were in the right and that the his goals are legitimate (…) The national troops, of course, because of the friendship of the English, are ready to take immediate action”. And as Archbishop Chrysanthos reports, “with the guilty cooperation of two great Christian Powers of the West during the years 1919-1922, the national movement of the Turks of Mustafa Kemal completely complemented the work of the Young Turks (…)

Those who remember, remind, refuse silence, they are at the forefront of history, whether they know it or not… The secret light of the men and women who gave their lives for what they believed in cannot be completely erased. No, as long as there is someone in this world who is willing to remember them and resurrect them. That alone is enough; a person crying out in a moral wilderness… Sometimes it is right to dream the impossible, to ask for the impossible, to cry for the impossible. There is a possibility that history will listen. There is a possibility that history will answer”…

During the First World War, Asia Minor was the so-called eastern front, where the Allies of the Entente faced the Germans. The fate of Asia Minor Hellenism was played out by the conversion of the allies of the Entente in favor of the Turks, due to their fierce competition in the region. Thus, while the conquest of Mudros in 1918 provided for the disarmament of the Turks and justice for the Greeks, it was not implemented. On the contrary, the secret help and assistance of the Allies to Kemal led to the defeat of the Greek army, the displacements, the massacres, and the complete domination of the Turks in Asia Minor.
Germany’s greatest contribution was to the destruction of Hellenism in Asia Minor. Wanting to make Asia Minor a German colony and a political province of its empire, it struggled for a quarter of a century to create in Asia Minor a market for its industry, a field of action for its trade and economy. During the Greek-Turkish wars of 1897 and 1912, he equipped the Turkish army with modern weapons and trained them with the help of German soldiers. Finally, he took advantage of the personal ambitions of the Young Turks and pushed them to evacuate Asia Minor from the Armenians and the Greeks, these two large active elements that could stand in the way of their ambitions, in order to replace them with German settlers. One million Greeks were displaced or forced to leave,

The persecutions led by the Germans began after the Balkan wars and were carried out throughout the duration of the First World War (1914-1918) and in a second phase after the landing of the Greek army in Smyrna until the Catastrophe of 1922. The intended purpose was the expulsion of the populations. Massacres and destruction were used to spread terror and cause the exodus of populations from Asia Minor.
There is no doubt about the complicity of Germany in all the measures taken. The writings of pro-German German journalists, foreign correspondents, and the testimonies of the American ambassador (Morgenthau) testify to this.”2

All information from St. Stefanos monastery was translated from Greek into English by Catherine Tsounis, from the exhibition in Meteora. All photos by writer.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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