Gregory V of Constantinople

Saint Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople
Lytras - Execution of Gregory V.jpg

Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople shortly before his execution, as depicted by Nikiphoros Lytras

Gregory V (Greek: Γρηγόριος Ε΄, born Γεώργιος Αγγελόπουλος, Georgios Angelopoulos; 1746 – 22 April 1821) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1797 to 1798, from 1806 to 1808 and from 1818 to 1821. He was an ethnic Greek. He was responsible for much restoration work to the Patriarchal Cathedral of St George, which had been badly damaged by fire in 1738.


At the onset of the Greek War of Independence, as Ethnarch of the Orthodox Millet Gregory V was blamed by Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II for his inability to suppress the Greek uprising. This was in spite of the fact that Gregory had condemned the Greek revolutionary activities in order to protect the Greeks of Constantinople from such reprisals by the Ottoman Turks. After the Greek rebels scored several successes against the Ottoman forces in the Peloponnese, these reprisals came.

Directly after celebrating the solemn Easter Liturgy on 22 April 1821 (10 April Old Style), Gregory was accosted by the Ottomans and, still in full patriarchal vestments, taken out of the Patriarchal Cathedral and hanged, being left for two days on the main gate of the Patriarchate compound, all by order of the Sultan.[1] This was followed by a massacre of the Greek population of Constantinople.

The Patriarch’s body was eventually interred in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. He is commemorated by the Greek Orthodox Church as an Ethnomartyr (Greek: Εθνομάρτυρας). In his memory, the Saint Peter Gate, once the main gate of the Patriarchate compound, was welded shut in 1821 and has remained shut ever since.


The brutal execution of Gregory V, especially on the day of Easter Sunday, shocked and infuriated the Greeks, and Orthodox Russia. It also caused protests in the rest of Europe and reinforced the movement of Philhellenism. There are references that during the Greek War of Independence, many revolutionaries engraved on their swords the name of Gregory, seeking revenge.

Dionysios Solomos, in his «Hymn to Liberty«, which later became the Greek national anthem, also mentions the hanging of the patriarch in some stanzas.



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