Vrontados, Chios, Greece, May 19, 2022
Last July, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece canonized 52 new saints, including the Ethnomartyr Metropolitan Plato of Chios and 43 others who were martyred by Ottoman troops in the Chios Massacre on Holy Friday in 1822.
And over the weekend, the newly-canonized saint’s feast was celebrated for the first time on the island of Chios, “With all ecclesiastical splendor and magnificence and with the participation of many priests and believers,” reports Romfea.
The celebration began on Saturday afternoon, May 14, with a pilgrimage to the dungeon in the prison where St. Plato was held.
A memorial above the door of the prison provides details of St. Plato’s martyrdom:
A long line of swinging corpses stretched along what is now known as The Way of The Martyrs, from the Porta Maggiore to where an obelisk in marble from Skyros now stands by a fountain close to the walls of the Kastro.
The obelisk names Loucas Vlasto among the forty-seven murdered there. To engender greater terror, the Turks hung the bodies from trees in the city centre for three days, having already ridiculed Metropolitan Plato by placing a Turkish cap, a tiara, on his head.
The heads of Metropolitan Plato and the leader, Makarios were put on pikes on the ramparts and pelted with stones by Turkish fanatics. The others too were decapitated and their heads shipped to Constantinople where the Sultan displayed them in 'pyramids' to demonstrate his great victory over the 'infidels' of Chios.
The headless bodies were given to the Jews who dragged them to the harbour's edge and threw them into the Aegean. Breasts, genitals, ears, noses and fingers were shipped to Constantinople and strewn about the streets. Only the nobility were hanged. Villagers were imprisoned until they died of malnutrition or disease.
The pilgrimage to the prison was followed by the Hierarchical Vespers at the Cathedral of St. George in Vrontados, where St. Stamatios (Hartoularis), who was canonized together with St. Plato, was martyred.
The next morning, the Hierarchical Orthros and Divine Liturgy were celebrated by Metropolitan Theologos of Serres and Nigrita, Metropolitan Mark of Chios, and Metropolitan Antonios of Glyfada, Elliniko, Voula, Vouliagmeni, and Varis.
Following the Liturgy, a procession with the relics of St. Plato and the 3rd-century martyr St. Isidore of Chios was held. The artoklasia was celebrated on the central square of the island.
Met. Theologos offered a word:
We come as humble pilgrims to embrace the tabernacles of the faith, to walk modestly in this holy land that is watered by so much blood shed by the Turkish tyrants for the sake of the faith and for the sake of the homeland…
In this place, the fact of the Orthodox faith is inextricably linked to sound patriotism. In this place, our faith, our religion coexisted with the homeland, that’s why it was the salvation of our nation during the terrible period of Ottoman rule. It protected and preserved the Greek language and culture. Keep the candle of faith and love for our nation lit. Only in the Orthodox Church has this happened, that is, its ministers are sacrificed for the love of the homeland.
Last month, the canonization of another ethnomartyr, Metropolitan St. Eugenios of Anchialos, was celebrated on the island of Ithaca.