Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Papism

Blasphemous Papist canons

The proselytism of Orthodox Christians in Italy

By Apostolos Vakalopoulos,


"The History of New Hellenism", ("Historia tou Neou Hellinismou") Vol.3, Thessaloniki 1968


"...Equally interesting and very touching information on other Orthodox (Hellenic and Albanian) Churches and communities has been provided by Pietro Pompilio Rodota (professor of the Hellenic language in the Vatican Library), in many parts of his 3-volume book, "Dell’ origine, progresso, e stato presente del rito greco in Italia osservato dai Greci, monaci Basiliani, e Albanesi" (On the origin, the progress and the current state of the Hellenic Rite in Italy, observed by the Greeks, Basilian monks, and by Albanians), which he published around 1758-1763. (…) In this book, we also see how certain old ecclesiastic communities are slowly fading away and how the Latin dogma is eventually being imposed, as for example in Altamura in 1602, in Citta d’ Otranto, in Terra di Pietro in Galatina in 1507,  in Terra di Goriliano in 1600, in Callipoli around 1513, etc..  

     It is characteristic, how, in one synod alone (the sinodo diocesano) of the ecclesiastic diocese of Otrado, before the year 1585, there continued to be 200 Orthodox clergymen.  Equally noteworthy are prof. Rodota’s reports regarding the place of the Orthodox Dogma in the areas of Calabria, Reggio, Oppido, Nikastro, Gerase and Bova; regarding the Orthodox churches of Messina; regarding  the Orthodox Monks and the Monasteries of Italy and Sicily (the entire second volume is dedicated to this topic), also, regarding the composition and the organization of those Orthodox communities; their gradual decline; the infiltration of Catholicism; the age-long resistance of many Orthodox, as well as their spiritual status.

    The Orthodox communities of Dalmatia, Venice, Southern Italy (mainly Apulia, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria) and Sicily, which were created following the Sack of Constantinople by the influx of Greek or Albanian refugee populations, had formed a separate metropolis – of Italy – which belonged to the Archdiocese of Ohrid, but this was swiftly abolished by the reactions of the Latin clergy.

     Soon after, the Ecumenical Patriarchate managed to somehow overcome this difficulty.  It ordained in 1575 as Metropolitan of Philadelphia a parish priest of the Greek community of Venice and well-known scholar, Gabriel Seviros, and it agreed to the transfer of the Metropolitan Seat of Philadelphia to the Orthodox Temple of Saint George in Venice.  From that time on, Gabriel Seviros and his successors bear the title of  Supreme Exarch of All Lydia, and they are Patriarchal Wardens and Exarchs in Venice as well as for all the Orthodox churches of Dalmatia.  It is quite possible that every consecutive Metropolitan of Philadelphia still upholds the assignment of generally supervising the Orthodox churches of Italy.     In general, the Greek church of Venice comprises the largest ecclesiastic centre of Hellenism in Western Europe, where, as we have seen, the first religious oppositions of the time were felt.

    In 1588, during the synod of Messina, the Greek clergymen of Italy found themselves confronting the dilemma of either accepting the union with the Catholic church or departing.  Thus, many of them were forced to emigrate to the East; following which, the residents of the Orthodox parishes lost their spiritual guides and their religious independence. "

Article published in English on: 19-5-2008.

Last update: 19-5-2008.