Commemorated on April 10th
Hieromartyr Gregory V of Constantinople
St Gregory V, Archbishop of Constantinople, occupied the Patriarchal throne three times (1797-1799, 1806-1808, 1819-1821 AD). During this time Greece was under the harsh Turkish yoke, but many Greek patriots lived in the hope of winning national independence. They found a brave champion for freedom, the Holy Patriarch Gregory V.
St Gregory's connections with the Greek patriots came to light only when Alexander Ypsilantis and his army crossed over the River Prut against Sultan Makhmul. Toward the end of 1820 AD, the Russian Embassy advised him to flee from Constantinople because his life was in danger. The Saint replied, "Only a hireling deserts the flock in time of danger, but the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his flock". He hoped that if he were killed, the other Christian nations would rise up to help Greece.
As the Revolution began in Greece, the enraged Turks retaliated against the Christians. It is estimated that 30 000 men, women, and children were killed by the Moslems because of the insurrection. The Patriarch, as the leader of the Greek people, was a natural scapegoat. He was accused of being a traitor, and a secret leader of the Revolution.
On the day of Holy Pascha, April 10, 1821 AD, they arrested St Gregory and hanged him before the doors of the Patriarchate. Because of his age and his asceticism, his body was not heavy enough to cause immediate death, so he suffered for a long time. No one dared to help him, and it was after nightfall before he finally gave up his soul to God. Those doors have remained shut since that day. After three days, the Saint's body was sold to a Jewish mob, who dragged his body through the streets, then threw it into the sea.
Mark Sklabos, the Greek captain of a Russian ship saw the body floating in the water. Under the cover of darkness, they brought the holy relics on board and sailed to Odessa. There, in the Greek church of the Most Holy Trinity, the body of the Saint was buried on June 17, 1821. The Tsar of Russia sent vestments and a mitre with cross, which had belonged to Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658 AD) from Moscow to clothe the Hieromartyr's body.
In 1871 AD, at the request of the Greek authorities, it was decided to transfer the relics of St Gregory from Odessa to Athens for the fiftieth anniversary of Greek independence. A special service in honour of the Saint was composed in Athens. St Gregory's death contributed to the rebirth of Greece.