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Brutal Murder of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna Still Haunts Greece

Chrysostomos Smyrna
Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna. Credit: Public Domain

On September 10, 1922, just two days before the Great Fire of Smyrna which marked the end of Hellenism in Asia Minor, a Turkish mob brutally lynched Metropolitan Chrysostomos, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox community in Smyrna.

Despite the advance of the Turkish forces and the reign of terror imposed on the Christian population of the once-great city, Chrysostomos had refused to abandon his people.

Arrested by the Turkish commandant, Nureddin Pasha, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Church of Saint Photini, he subsequently surrendered to an angry Turkish mob. He died only after being horrifically tortured.

St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna’s final moments

Historian Giles Milton’s book Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance contains some of the most graphic details of the last days before the destruction of the city.

It describes what happened to Chrysostomos, according to French soldiers who witnessed the lynching but were under strict orders from their commanding officer not to intervene:

The mob took possession of Metropolitan Chrysostom and carried him away…a little further on, in front of an Italian hairdresser named Ismail…they stopped and the Metropolitan was slipped into a white hairdresser’s overall. They began to beat him with their fists and sticks and to spit on his face. They riddled him with stabs. They tore his beard off, they gouged his eyes out, they cut off his nose and ears.

Chrysostomos was then dragged around the city by a car or truck into a back street of the Iki Cheshmeli district where he died soon after that.

Rare footage of the martyred Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna appeared online recently on the YouTube channel “Bahriye.”

The footage begins with shots of Smyrna and the surrounding area, and Chrysostomos is seen around the 1:25 minute mark.

Chrysostomos Kalafatis served as the Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Smyrna between 1910 and 1914 and again from 1919 until his death in 1922. He was born in Triglia (today’s Zeytinbağı), Turkey in 1867.

He was declared a martyr and a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on November 4, 1992.

The Great Fire of Smyrna

September 12, 1922 marks one of the darkest days of Hellenism, as Smyrna, one of the most prosperous and beautiful cities on the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor, was destroyed by the Turks, sending hundreds of thousands of Greeks to a homeland they had never known.

Only five days prior to the Smyrna destruction, the Greek Army, which had come to Asia Minor to liberate lands that once were Greek, was leaving, defeated by Turkish troops under the leadership of the founder of the new nation, Kemal Ataturk.

Once the Greek Army had retreated, the Turkish troops entered the city from the west side of the beach that stretched the entire length of the city, an area that extended to the northern end of the waterfront—where only ethnic Greeks lived.

Turkish soldiers, for no apparent reason, began to act with violence against the Armenian merchants along the coast, destroying and looting their shops.

It was just the Armenians at first. Yet, the following day, eyewitnesses from the American Institute saw Turkish soldiers throwing lighted torches and pouring cans of gasoline indiscriminately into homes in the Paradise area of the city, where the mansions of wealthy Greeks and Armenians were.

In the end, the only neighborhood that remained untouched by the arsonists was that of the Turks.

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