Prominent bishops and priests of Pityos

New Martyrs, deacon George Psyrikoulis and deacon Kanaris of Pityos

Apart from their end, very little is known about these two deacons, serving at Pityos during the events of the Chios massacre of 1822.

According to the Chios researcher and hagiographer, Markos Tsaplakos who created the frescoes in the Holy Church of Agios Georgios – among them the frescoes of the two Newmartyrs, standing near the emerging Theotokos – Deacon Georgios Psyrikoulis, was chased by Vahit Pasha’s soldiers in the mountain pastures, being a shepherd himself. At some point, he entered a low stone corral to hide but was spotted by the soldiers. When the soldiers tried to enter the corral, he stood up and like Samson, shook up the stone roof which was a dry-stone infrastructure, and as it fell it crushed them all. When Psyrikoulis managed to free himself from the rubble and tried to escape, he was shot by other soldiers lurking outside.

Daecon Kanaris, of Psara origin, as his surname testifies, was caught together with the villagers trapped in the tower during the siege of Pityos. He was ordered to make his own gallows and hanged himself at Makelos’ tree. That’s why his mural shows him carrying a loop.

The Permanent Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church recognized and canonised the two Pityan priests as New-Martyrs and with special circulars classified them in the Hagiological Bulletins together with dozens more newly martyred priests who were exterminated during the massacre of Chios. (see Circular of the Holy Synod No. 3047, July 19, 2021)

Bishop of Nazareth Kleopas by name Konstantinos Koikilides

He was born in Pityos in 1866. He was ordained a deacon at the Monastery of Mundon. He studied Theology in Athens and Jerusalem and became an archdeacon in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

He was put as librarian at the Holy Sepulcher and studied ancient manuscripts, compiling a catalogue of Syriac ones. He translated the study of the French monk Vaillet: The Monasteries of Palestine. In collaboration with Ioannis Fokylides, he wrote the work Journeys in the Holy Land.

In September 1921 he was ordained Bishop of the Diocesaria of Palestine, which is the ancient Greek city of Sapphoris, (i.e. today’s Zapori in Hebrew or Saforiyia in Arabic), located a few kilometres north of Nazareth.

A year later, in August 1922, he became the Archbishop of Nazareth. He died in 1929. He was the first of a series of priests who were born in Pityos and climbed high in the bosom of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. (For his writings, see the database of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki: https://search.lib.auth.gr/Author/Home?author=%CE%9A%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%85%CE%BB%CE%B9%CC%81%CE%B4%CE%B7%CF%82%2C+%CE%9A%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%BF%CC%81%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%82+%CE%9C)

Bishop Gregorios, by name Gregorios Spanoudis

He was born in Pityos in 1867. He was ordained in 1898 and served for two years as Archdeacon under Bishop Konstantinos of Chios. He studied Theology in Athens at EKPA University and in 1904 he was awarded a doctorate.

Bishop Deligiannis invited him to Constantinople, where he was ordained a priest and appointed Head of the Holy Church of “Agios Ioannis of Chios”, a church dedicated to the Chian community of Constantinople. Later he served as vicar at the Patriarchal Temple of Fener. At the same time, he will assume the duties of a Religious Studies teacher at the Greek Orthodox School of Galata.

In 1926 the Metropolitan Bishop of Chios Ieronymos Gorgias asked him to return to Chios and serve as his assistant. Thus, he will be ordained Bishop of the Metropolis of Chios, a position he will maintain until his death in June 1937.

During his service in Chios, he visited Pityos several times and made a large donation for the building of the school, financing the stone staircase with its characteristic black and red marble. Besides, the very plot of land on which the school building was erected in 1925 was a donation of the Spanoudis family. (Heilas, p. 183)

The first Archbishop of Ioannoupolis (Johannesburg) Isidoros by name Isidoros Georgiadis or Georgos

He was born in Pityos in the year of the great earthquake in 1881. His parents were called Michalis Georgiadis/Georgos and Marigo and they were farmers.

The Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne, George K. Liadis, connects the Georgiadis or Georgos family of Pityos, with its great ancestor, Saint Nikiforos of Chios, from Kardamyla (1750-1821). Besides, the name Georgiadis or Georgos has now disappeared from Kardamyla but still survives in Pityos. (see Georgiou K. Liadi, O Osios Nikiforos o Chios, pp. 12-13, Chios 1999).

With the help of his fellow villager, bishop Kleopas, he joined the Theological School of the Cross in Jerusalem and then the Holy Sepulcher brotherhood initially as a deacon in 1903. He became successively Archimandrite, Director of the Urban School of Jerusalem and General Supervisor of the Schools of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. In Alexandria he was appointed by the Patriarch vicar of the Church of Saint Savvas and presiding judge of Ecclesiastical law.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria entrusted him with some of the most difficult missions, first as Exarch of Abyssinia in 1923, then as vicar in South Africa.

In 1928 he took over as Bishop of the newly founded Diocese of Ioannoupolis (Johannesburg) where he remained until his untimely death from illness in 1938 at the age of 57.

During his tenure there, he was particularly distinguished for the organization of the new church among the Greek immigrants of the country, while also giving lessons in the Greek language and trying to deal with the much more organized and rich missions of the Catholics and the Protestants (see Metropolitan Bishop of Zimbabwe Makarios, The Foundation of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannoupolis/Johannesburg and the first Metropolitan Bishop Isidoros 1928-1938, The Episcopal Issue 17, Athens 1998, pp 260-262).

According to Heilas, he visited Pityos twice, in 1922 and 1936 – the second time already being a Metropolitan Bishop – and seeing the prevailing poverty, in his will, he donated the sum of 1,000 golden liras, as an endowment for the village school and to be given as a scholarship to Pityan students. (Heilas, p. 182).

The memory of his second visit to Pityos has been preserved in the short stories of Yiannis Giannomoros (1865-1960) in the 1950s as recorded by his grandson, Pityan lawyer Antonis Chloros:

…I knew Bishop Isidoros from my childhood. I was around 12-15 years older. My parents were relatives to his parents. Isidoros loved reading and was busy with the church’s sanctuary and the psaltery since he was a small child. It seemed that one day he will become somebody. He left for the Holy Land, studied, and became a Bishop. 

I remember when he came to Pityos, to see his own people, he was now a great and well-known Bishop. When he arrived in the village, we had laid myrtle leaves on the road and in the inner square and the bell was ringing for his arrival. He reached the Aplada square. The villagers had gathered to welcome him. It was summer, and harvest, had just finished.

With tears in his eyes, he blessed those gathered, kissed his family, and saw among the villagers, old man Fitousis. He approached him, bowed down, repented in front of him and tearfully took the old man’s hand and kissed it with great respect. He was his godfather; he had baptised him some fifty-five years ago. The repentance of the great Bishop before the illiterate poor-clothed old man shows his greatness. It can be seen how great he was also from the fact that he left all his savings for children from our village to study.

I remember that all the days he stayed in Pityos, he would go with a book under his arm, to the chapels and more often to Panagia Spiliotina. He would sit there for hours, reading and praying. One day he came to visit the chapels of Saint Markos and Prophet Elias and passed by where I had my bees. He sat down to see and talk to me. I treated him to a piece of honey-pie and gave it to him on a fig-leaf. He took it in his hand and looking at the sky he said: 

…everything in wisdom hath created! 

Then a bee went onto the honey, and as I tried to chase it away with my hand, I finally killed it. Then the Bishop said to me: 

“…John, we took her toil and her work, and this creature of God came to defend her life. We, unjust but strong, killed her. Doesn’t that happen in life too? Always the strong grabs, wrongs, and kills…”.

Markos Costalas, who had his bees higher up, also came down and sat with us. The Bishop asked us, about all the villagers and seemed to be happy, but also to suffer for what we told him, for the joys and sorrows of fellow villagers. He cared about everyone. He spoke beautifully and sang even more beautifully. You were glad to hear him. He asked us to tell him stories from the past, that is, our pranks and exploits from childhood. Great man I tell you!

His early death was a great loss for Pityos. If he lived, he would become a Patriarch. Our cousin Bishop, Grigorios Spanoudis, also said that, admitted and believed it. Gregory used to say that “…if Isidoros had not died so young, he would definitely have become Patriarch…”. Isidoros Georgiadis and Grigorios Spanoudis, both Pityan Bishops, were almost the same age. Perhaps Isidore was a little older than Gregory.” (see: https://filoidromokaiteiou.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/dromoi-psixis-84_site.pdf)

His grave, according to his wish, is in Bulawayo, then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

According to Antonios Chloros:

In memory of the blessed Hierarch, an elegant cenotaph was built on the southeast side of the Pityos’ School. But after years this was removed, to create the square in front of the school. The carved stones of the cenotaph were used for the construction of the facade of the gyneconite of the Church of Agia Paraskevi, where to this day there is the metope of the cenotaph, above the door of the gyneconite of the Church, with the inscription “Metropolitan Isidoros“. (op.p.)