Brutal murder of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna still haunts Greece

Metropolitan Chrysostom 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 Turkish forces and the reign of terror imposed on the Christian population of the ancient great city, Chrysostomos had refused to abandon his people.

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

The last moments of Saint Chrysostom of Smyrna

Historian Giles Milton, whose 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 city’s destruction.

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

“The crowd took possession of Metropolitan Chrysostom and took him… a little further, in front of an Italian barber named Ismail… They started punching and sticking him and spitting in his face. They stabbed him with a knife. They tore off his beard, they tore out his eyes, they cut off his nose and his ears.

Chrysostomos was then dragged into town by a car or truck through an alley in the Iki Cheshmeli neighborhood where he died shortly after.

Rare images of metropolitan martyr Chrysostom of Smyrna appeared online recently on the “Bahriye” YouTube channel.

The footage begins with shots of Smyrna and its environs, and Chrysostomos is seen at around 1:25 minute.

Chrysostomos Kalafatis was Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Smyrna between 1910 and 1914, then from 1919 until his death in 1922. He was born in Triglia (now Zeytinbağı), Turkey, in 1867.

He was declared a martyr and 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.

Just five days before the destruction of Smyrna, the Greek army, which had come to Asia Minor to liberate formerly Greek lands, left, defeated by Turkish troops under the leadership of the founder of the new nation, Kemal Atatürk.

Once the Greek army withdrew, Turkish troops entered the city from the west side of the beach which stretched the entire length of the city, an area which extended up to the northern end of the seafront – where only the ethnic Greeks lived.

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

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

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

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