Priest, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1771 – 1826)
Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras, member of the Philiki Hetaireia and the figure most closely associated with beginning the Greek War of Independence on March 25th, 1821.
He was born in Dimitsana as Georgios Kontzias or Gozias to a poor family of goldsmiths and farmers. He studied among the most renowned and respected teachers of his time in Dimitsana and then in the city of Argos. While in Argos, he was named deacon Germanos and stayed there as a monk for seven years. He later moved to Smyrna and then in Constantinople, serving as arch-deacon. In 1806 he was appointed Metropolitan of Old Patras, the highest rank of priesthood. With this rank he became a protector of the citizens and an advisor of the Turkish leaders of the local areas.
His significant diplomatic and nationalist work for the Greek War of Independence began in 1818 when he joined the Philiki Hetaireia, a secret society formed for the War. He went on to recruit many chieftains and metropolitans from Central Greece and raise the necessary money for the funding of the War. Despite his active involvement in the society, he believed that Greece was not yet ready for a revolution. He changed his mind when he realized that the Turks were surrounding the Peloponnese.
In March 1821, he traveled to Patras, Peloponnese to unite all priests of the Orthodox Chruch against the Turkish army. With the city under siege, Germanos united the priests and the chieftains, sent a letter to the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Austria) informing them that they will fight for freedom or die and blessed the Greek flag and armaments. Thanks to Germanos, the revolution had already started in the Peloponnese and on March 25th, 1821, he officially declared the Greek War of Independence in the monastery of Hagia Lavra.
Germanos continued his struggle for the independence of Greece for the remainder of his life. He took place in the First and Third National Assembly and later went to Italy with Georgios Mavromichalis to persuade the Pope to support the revolution. Although he was prevented from doing so, he managed to meet and unite several Greeks living in Italy for the causes of the revolution. His continuous acts of diplomacy and conciliation in the Greek and European field provided important physical and mental support for the success of the revolution.
His contribution to Greek history is also significant due to his memoirs, which chronicle the events from the preparation for the revolution until 1823 and provide detailed insights to the Greek War of Independence. Greek historian Ioannis Philemon described Germanos as “pure in his priesthood, zealous in his struggles and righteous in his politics”.
- “Germanos”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
- “Palaion Patron Germanos”. Sansimera. Web. 14 Jul. 2017.