Nicosia, Cyprus, February 11, 2021
The Holy Synod of the Cypriot Orthodox Church met today under the chairmanship of Archbishop Chrysostomos. The hierarchs dealt with several administrative matters and also issued a lengthy statement in honor of the 200th anniversary of Greek Revolution of 1821.
In the statement, published on Romfea, the bishops praise the faith and love of freedom of the Greeks who rose up two centuries ago and call on the people of Cyprus to have such faith and courage today.
“There are anniversaries that, despite the fact that many centuries have passed since they appeared in history, still make our hearts bleed,” the statement begins. Such are the anniversaries of the fall of Constantinople and of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. But there are others that create a feeling of unprecedented greatness and pride. Such is the anniversary of the revolution that freed the Greek people from the Ottoman yoke.
On March 25, 1821, “our ancestors were examined before God and the people. They showed their national identity and were found in good order,” the Synod writes.
“March 25 is at the highest peak in our history,” from where you can see the whole history of the Greek race, the statement continues. The nation did not discuss or negotiate its freedom, but rather preferred death to life without freedom.
For the Greeks, the inner freedom of man was paramount, and reflected in the national idea that grew over the course of many centuries. They “considered it their highest obligation to fight to the death for the supremacy of the spirit in the world.” When the time had come to wake from the sleep of slavery, the Greek people “roared like a lion,” write the Cypriot bishops.
The Greek ancestors knew the mighty power of the Turks, and yet they were ready to sacrifice themselves “for the supreme of ideals, freedom, which they knew was always acquired through blood.”
And turning to the Church’s contribution to this great historical moment, the Synod emphasizes that its “contribution to this miracle of the nation’s uprising was admirable and unique,” for it was the Church that preserved the “symbols of the Empire” after it fell to the Turks. “Through these terrible and wanton centuries, it stood as the spiritual and national center of the martyred race.”
“If we exist today as a Greek race, it is because we were preserved by the vestry of the Church all these years,” the bishops affirm. History is “full of bloody vestments” and ruined churches, but for the Greeks, Orthodoxy was the spiritual context in which their national consciousness was expressed, including the hope of redemption.
There would have been no revolution without the Church, the Synod declares. But the revolution must continue today, they write. “Thousands of Greeks in Cyprus are still groaning under slavery and threatened with complete extinction. What other meaning would it have for us to celebrate such an anniversary but the continuation of the struggle for liberation and of our homeland?”
“The indomitable Greek soul of Cyprus, dressed in the purple tunic of martyrdom and wearing the crown of thorns,” was also seen in 1821. And today, although nearly half the Cypriot homeland is occupied and many churches are destroyed, the people of Cyprus still celebrate the anniversary of the Revolution with great solemnity, the Synod writes.
If 400 years of slavery could not demoralize the Greek nation, surely 47 years of Turkish occupation in Cyprus can be overcome by taking an example from the past, the bishops conclude.