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Cyprus Martyrs of Greek War of Independence to be Honored in July

Greek War of Independence
“Episode from the Greek War of Independence,” Eugene Delacroix, oil on canvas, 66.7×81.6 cm, 1856. Credit: National Gallery of Greece

The many martyrs of the Greek War of Independence on the island of Cyprus will be honored in a special online commemoration of their sacrifice as part of the ongoing celebration of the Greek bicentennial of the War of Independence in 1821.

The month of July, 2021 has been set apart by the American Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, a group which presented a host of gala activities back on March 25, celebrating the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.

Called “A Synaxis of Friends,” the organization’s mission, in its words, is “To remember where we started from, to realize where we stand, and to decide where we want to go.”

The working group, consisting of members of the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA, the Greek, French, English, Russian Nationality Room Committees, and the European Art Center of Greece, sponsored all the events that took place in the month of March 2021 to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The Foundation’s director, Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, told Greek Reporter in an interview this week that July was selected for the next Greek War of Independence presentation “because of the martyric events during that month in Cyprus in 1821 — as well as the martyric events that took place in 1974.

Cyprus’ role in Greek War of Independence little known, appreciated

“Cyprus, its people, and its significant contribution and martyrdom, are largely unknown outside of the island and Greece,” he noted.

“For the first time, the heroes and martyrs of the island will be unveiled to the Diaspora in America, which is home today to many individuals of Cypriot descent whose desire is to see the martyric island united and free of oppressive forces that repeated the events of July 1821 in the same month of 1974.

All the events are virtual, and can be accessed on the organization’s website, here, on its Youtube channel, or live via Zoom, and are open to everyone around the world, from July 7 through 11, 2021.

In addition, al those who are interested may visit the “Digital Exhibits Room” on the website to view and download rare documents and art material having to do with the Bicentennial.

Now the organizers of all the March festivities are announcing that they have dedicated the month of July 2021 to the Cypriot heroes and martyrs of the Revolution.

July devoted to commemoration of Greek War of Independence battles, Cyprus invasion

Over the coming weeks, the organization’s founder, Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, states, “the organization will provide additional menu selections on its website for the central landing page, where these events can be accessed on their scheduled day and time.

“These events constitute a first for the Diaspora,” he notes with pride. “The participation of Cypriots in the Revolution of 1821 is not particularly known outside of Cyprus and Greece. We are honored to present this lesser known aspect of the Greek Struggle for Independence in commemorating the heroes and martyrs of Cyprus.

“While most commemorations and tributes to the Greek Revolution of 1821 in the context of the Bicentennial ended in March,” Giannoukakis states, “some communities and organizations considered that the remembrances should cover the entire year with first-in-kind themes particularly aimed at the non-Greek Americans and sister communities in their area.

Unlike many other entities, however, the founder states, his organization did not forget that commemorating the Greek bicentennial should also include the martyric island of Cyprus as part of its history. “Outside of Cyprus and Greece,” he states, “few in the Diaspora are aware of the contribution of the Cypriot people to the Greek Revolution.

“Even fewer are aware of the price the Cypriots paid – with their lives – for the decisions they made as early as the late 1700s. Historical records from a number of memoirs of Greek Revolutionaries like General Makrygiannis and chroniclers of the Revolution, indicate that at least 130 Cypriots went to Greece between 1821-1833 to join the Revolutionary Captains and chieftains,” Giannoukakis explains to Greek Reporter.

“Emerging documents, such as those from the General National Archives of Greece, suggest that many more sacrificed their livelihoods in Cyprus to join the revolution. Many from the educated class joined the Filiki Etaireia, the secret society that served as the covert pillar of the Revolution, the physician and medical professor states.

“Very notable is the participation — both overt and covert — of the Cypriot clergy who supported the Revolution materially, from finance to supplies to providing ecclesiastic cover for Cypriots and Greeks meeting to arrange revolutionary logistics. At the same time, a number of Cypriots returned to the island to attempt a Cypriot revolt and liberation which were unsuccessful.”

The events schedule to date:

Cypriots in the Revolution of 1821

“Cypriots in the Revolution of 1821,” Wednesday July 7, 2021 at 8 PM — This stirring audiovisual presentation will introduce the audience to the many Cypriots who left the island to travel to mainland Greece, together with a roll call of those who died in battle, those who later became notable leaders in the new Greek state and those who returned to shape Cyprus’ future.

Letters from Cyprus

“Letters from Cyprus” — The Massacres of July, 1821 as reported on by John Carne, Esq., Queen’s College Cambridge, 1826. On July 8, at 8 PM, the vivid reportage on the massacres of Cypriots in the month of July 1821, as recorded by the renowned chronicler of the period, John Carne, in his “Letters from the East” published in 1826, will be presented.

Carne’s eyewitness accounts of the tragic events of the month served to further galvanize the philhellenes of Europe to support the revolution in Greece as well as to help those in Cyprus who had lost everything.

A Poetic Tribute to the Martyrs, with world premiere of original hymns

“A Poetic Tribute to the Martyrs,” to be held three evenings in succession; Friday July, 9, Saturday July 10, and Sunday July 11, 2021 at 8 PM each evening.

This presentation will include “The 9th of July,” An Elegy in Three Parts to the Massacred Martyrs of Cyprus of 1821,” by Cypriot Poet Vasileios Michaelides. Translated into English by Andrew A. Melas, this elegy will be recited by students of Cypriot descent and friends of Cyprus.

Introducing the events scheduled for the 9th of July, including the poem, will be Andrew A. Melas, who translated the poem. Melas is a distinguished member of the Cypriot-American community with many contributions in educating Americans about the history of Cyprus and its culture, and in addition to this unique translation of the poem by Vasileios Michaelides, he also has written extensively about the Cypriot contribution to the Greek War of Independence.

“A Hymnologic Encomium,” including “The Triodion of the Hieromartyr,” dedicated to the Cypriot Hieromartyr Αrchbishop Kyprianos (+1821), will also be presented for the first time in history, as part of this commemoration.

Preceding these poetic odes will be a first-in-history set of ecclesiastic hymns composed in authentic Byzantine chant as a tribute to the hieromartyr Archbishop Kyprianos of Cyprus, who was executed on the July 9, 1821 for his role in the Revolution in Cyprus.

The uniqueness of the hymnographic tribute is that it is in English and offered as a Triodion in three Odes. Members of the renowned Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh and its friends are coming together to interpret the world premieres of these new hymns.

For updates on the organization’s commemoration of the martyrs of Cyprus in the Greek War of Independence, please contact the organizers by clicking on this email address.


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