Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1778 – 1821)
Isaiah (real name Elias) was the first protopriest to fall in battle during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. A flaming patriot overwhelmed by a sense of freedom, he sacrificed himself to spark patriotism to the Greeks as well as the Church to join the battle of the Greek War of Independence.
He was born in Desphina of Delphi. Wanting him to become a priest, his father sent him to the monastery of Prodromos to become a deacon and learn some letters. Elias continued his studies in Constantinople with the help of Ali Pasha, who upon meeting him in Ioannina saw great virtue in him. There, he came into contact with the Phanariotes and the Patriarcheion of Constantinople. Patriarch Gregory V became a close affiliate to Elias, whom he would strongly support covertly during the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence. On January 1821, the two would meet once again in Constantinople in order for the Patriarch to instruct him on the preparations of the War.
In 1818 Elias was appointed bishop of Salona and adopted the name Isaiah. He was initiated into the Society of Friends (Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία) and began gathering large sums of money as well as weapons and hiding them without the Turkish authorities’ suspicion. After a last trip in Constantinople and his return back to Salona, everything was arranged accordingly and on March 27, 1821, Isaiah of Salona hoisted the Greek flag signaling the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in the region of Viotia.
Isaiah fought alongside Athanasios Diakos and Panourgias, whom he considered Isaiah as his right-hand man. He had joined as a mere soldier in Panourgias’ army and was member of the Administrative Commission of the War of Sterea Hellada. On the 23rd of April, Isaiah had a protagonistic role in the Battle of Alamana, where he led into battle the few-numbered Greeks against the army of Omer Vryoni. During the battle, Panourgias’ force was disbanded, he himself was injured while Isaiah fell heroically, after ordering his soldiers to leave him wounded and save themselves. The next day, Athanasios Diakos was impaled alive by the Turks and alongside him were impaled numerous other heads of fallen Greeks. Among them was that of Isaiah of Salona.
Isaiah was the first and at the time the only man of a religious title to not only grab arms and fight in the Greek War of Independence, but to sacrifice himself in the name of freedom. Even though the Battle of Alamana concluded with a defeat of the Greeks, it is remembered today principally for the death of Isaiah, which shook the Greeks, increased their esteem and inspired them to imitate his example and join the war. To this day, he is regarded as a symbol of the Greek War of Independence.
- “Isaias Salonon”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
- Ησαΐας Σαλώνων. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. January 19, 2019. Web.
- Κραββαρτόγιαννος, Δρόσος. Ο Επίσκοπος Σαλώνων Ησαΐας. Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος. Anthoulaki.blogspot.com. August 29, 2010. Web. January 19, 2019.