Archbishop, Writer, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1762 – 1861)
Neophytos Metaxas (real name Nikolaos), is one of the national heroes of the Greek War of Independence, serving as the first Archbishop of Athens during Greece’s inception as a free nation. Together with Athanasios Diakos and Isaiah of Salona, Neophytos was the main protagonist of the Greek War of Independence in Sterea Hellada (Central Greece) and responsible for its outbreak there.
He descended from the noble Metaxas family, the same from which another great leader of the Greek nation, Ioannis Metaxas descended. He studied in Athens and became a teacher before moving to Constantinople. In 1803 he returned to Athens and was appointed Bishop of Talantion.
On March 27, 1821, 2 days after the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Neophtos Metaxas together with Athanasios Diakos and Isaiah of Salona declared the outbreak of the war in Central Greece and blessed the weapons of the Greeks. In spite of his old age, Neophytos was a heroic figure in the Greek War of Independence, partaking actively in multiple battles and offering great material and spiritual support. Together with Athanasios Diakos they mobilized the Greek forces, liberating Locris and Atalante. He inspired, wrote letters to and recruited numerous Greeks to the war, most notably the heroine Manto Mavrogenous. In addition, Neophytos served as president of the judicial department of Areios Pagos, the Supreme Court of Greece, took part in the Assembly of Salona, the first National Assembly of Epidaurus and the Assembly of Astros. He was a member of the Philomousos Society and the Philekpedeutic Society, concerned with the financial support of the war and education respectively.
Following the independence of Greece as a nation, Neophytos was appointed member of the educational committee for supervising the general function of the Church. A close friend of John Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, he occupied several positions as Bishop and place-warden, namely Bishop of Attica, Metropolitan of Athens and eventually President of the Holy Synod and Archbishop of Athens.
As Archbishop for 28 years, Neophytos became the longest-serving Archbishop in Greek history. He is recognized as one of the most important and influential figures in the ecclesiastical history of Greece, having worked tirelessly and with the utmost dedication for the development of the Church, its proper function, its laws and its service to society. During Otto’s reign and the Bavarians’ involvement in the administration of the state, Neophytos was the one who defended the Church and its rights. He wrote numerous books and articles on theology and was honoured with the silver medal for his contributions to the Greek nation. He died in 1861 almost at the age of 100.
- Αρχιεπίσκοπος Νεόφυτος. Metapedia. El.metapedia.org. Web.
- Η αντίσταση του ηρωικού Επισκόπου Ταλαντίου Νεόφυτου Μεταξά, στις αντιεκκλησιαστικές αξιώσεις της Τρόϊκας του Όθωνα. Η Θεοσκέπαστη Γή των Μετεώρων. Agiameteora.net. April 29, 2019. Web.