1. Ecclesiastical administration before the foundation of the diocese
Until Kydonies (Ayvalık)becametheseatofadiocese (1908),thecity,like the whole of the geographical area of Aeolis, was under the authority of the rather extended diocese of Ephesus. The fact that Ayvalık wasunderthe ecclesiastical authority of the metropolitan of Ephesus went back to the beginning of the city and lasted until1908. The rapid demographic, economic and cultural developmentofthecityfromthesecondhalfofthe 18thcenturyimplies that it developed as well in community and ecclesiastical affairs. Characteristic is the increase in the number of the churches, which followed the increase of the population and the urban expansion of the city: the three older churches were the church of the Taxiarchsatthe Upper District, St John in the Market and the Dormition of the Virgin in the Middle District. Then, other churches were added, of Zoodochos Pigi (Kato Panagia) in around 1780 and St George before the end of the 18th century. This continuous development ended up in eleven parish churches with eighteen priests, in three monasteries and a lot of chapels at the beginning of the 20th century.1
The size of the city’s population, its exclusively Greek-Orthodox character and the economic, cultural and ecclesiastical development led the city not to be just one of the many communities under the metropolitan of Ephesus, but its role became more important. Due to its large territory, the diocese of Ephesus was divided into three regions: Magnisia, Kordelio and Ayvalık. Each one of these cities was a metropolitan seat and hosted occasionally the metropolitan of Ephesus, otherwise their ecclesiastical administration was exercised by his commissioner, who was called, informally, “bishop”. The metropolitan region of Ayvalık included the whole area of geographical Aeolis, that is the late Ottoman kaza of Ayvalık, Adramytti (Edremit), Kemer and Pergamos (Bergama), with72,530 Orthodox inhabitants,38 parish churches and 54 priests, according to data published in1905 at the journal Xenophanis of the Asia Minor Club “Anatoli” inAthens.2
2. Foundation of the diocese
The request for the ecclesiastical improvement of the various urban centres in the western coasts and the creation of new dioceses, which is implemented from the end of the 19th century onwards, was based on the continuous increase of the Greek Orthodox population, but mainly on the institution of the role of the church in provincial administration. Since according to the reforms of the Tanzimat the supreme ecclesiastical official of a city and of a region participated in the council (meclis), the possibility that this official would be a metropolitan improved the representation of the Greek Orthodox element in administration, which was from that time the continuous demand of the wealthy middle class.3
Occasionally, the metropolitan and, on a more permanent basis, the commissioner, as his substitute, participated in the administrative commissions of the seats of all three metropolitan regions of the province of Ephesus. In the case of Ayvalik it was natural that the prosperity of the city and its exclusive Greek Orthodox character created a powerful parochial perception. It seems that the people of Ayvalık were not content having their city one of the seats of the metropolitan of Ephesus and to be occasionally represented by him in administration. They wished to have their own metropolitan, who would be their representative to the Ottoman authorities, something that finally manifested intensely in the form of open conflict, with the events that became known as the “Ephesian” of the "metropolitan” issue.
Rupture took place in 1904, when the Ottoman authorities demanded the payment of a rather large amount by the community of Ayvalık as part of the military tax, a demand that was expressed with a harsh attitude by the authorities and the imprisonment of the notables (dimogerontes). Due to this event the people of Ayvalık, already discontent from the administration of the metropolitan’s commissioners, turned against the metropolitan of Ephesus Ioakeim Efthyvoulis, because they believed he didn’t support them properly. Furthermore, the metropolitan made the unfortunate decision to transfer the seat of the region from Ayvalık to Pergamos. The crisis lasted from 1905 to 1908, a period in which the people of Ayvalık interrupted any relations with the metropolitan of Ephesus, were under the ecclesiastical administration of the commissioner of the Patriarchate and continuously expressed their demand to the Patriarchate to declare their city the seat of a diocese.4
Finally, ascertaining the impossibility of reconciling the people of Ayvalık with the metropolitan of Ephesus, the Holy Synod assented in 1908 and on the 22nd of April the new diocese of Ayvalik was founded. The city received its first –and only, as things turned out– prelate, the eminent Grigorios Orologas, former metropolitan of Stromnitsa, on September 8th.5 From then on, the history of the diocese is essentially identified with the period that the specific metropolitan held the office. He tried to assist and relieve its flock in periods of harsh prosecutions, culminating in the final prosecution of 1922, where he himself was killed.6
Essentially it was an urban diocese, which included the city of Ayvalık and a few settlements, since with its foundation the Holy Synod wished to compromise the conflicting aspirations of the people of Ayvalık on the one hand and of the metropolitan of Ephesus on the other, and so they could not deprive the latter a significant territory. In spire of its small geographical expanse, the diocese of Kydonies didn’t face a financial problem, since the numerous and flourishing community of the city could support it by itself. Apart from the city, the diocese included Genitsarochori, in close proximity and historically closely related to Ayvalık, Agiasmati and the six settlements of the area of Armutova, which constituted the municipality of Kisthini under Greek administration (1919-1922).7
The total amount of the Greek Orthodox population is reported as amounting to 39,600, according to data by Xenophanis in 1905 (with 15 parish churches and 23 priests), from which 35, lived in the city, or to 42,110, according to G. Sakkaris (who probably refers to the situation before the prosecutions).8 The information provided by Anagnostopoulou, who includes Adramytti and its region9 in the geographical area of the diocese of Cydoniae is probably inaccurate, since no testimony confirms it, while Sakkaris, contemporary to the events, doesn’t mention that the territory of the diocese extended more than the above mentioned settlements.
1. Σακκάρης, Γ., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών (Athens 1920), pp. 24-25, 34, 245-247, Καραμπλιάς, Ι., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών. Από της Ιδρύσεώς των μέχρι της αποκαταστάσεως των προσφύγων εις το ελεύθερον ελληνικόν κράτος, vol. 1 (Athens 1949), pp. 47-49, 114, Ανώνυμος, “Στατιστική της Επαρχίας Εφέσου (έδρα Κυδωνιών)”, Ξενοφάνης 2 (1905), pp. 474-477.
2. Regarding the population and the number of priests, the region of Ayvalık was approximately equivalent to Kordelio (71,155 Orthodox Christians, 41 churches, 60 priests) and clearly larger than the region of Magnisia (56,030 Orthodox Christians, 35 churches, 49 priests). See Ξενοφάνης 2 (1905), pp. 426-429, 474-477, 522-525.
3. Αναγνωστοπούλου, Σ., Μικρά Ασία, 19ος αι.-1919. Οι Ελληνορθόδοξες Κοινότητες. Από το Μιλλέτ των Ρωμιών στο Ελληνικό Έθνος (Athens 1997), pp. 320-325.
4. In the years 1906-1907 the post of the patriarchate commissioner was held byTimotheos, metropolitan of Mesembria. See Εκκλησιαστική Αλήθεια 27 (1907), p. 109.
5. Regarding these events see Sakkaris, G., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών (Athens 1920), pp. 192-195, Καραμπλιάς, Ι., Καραμπλιάς, Ι., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών. Από της Ιδρύσεώς των μέχρι της αποκαταστάσεως των προσφύγων εις το ελεύθερον ελληνικόν κράτος, vol. 1 (Athens 1949), p. 46, and vol. 2 (Athens 1950), pp. 194-195, 198. Sakkaris refers to a special study by Dimitrios Simos, Τα κατά την Ανακήρυξιν της Μητροπόλεως Κυδωνιών (1908), which could not be found.
6. Iakovos Kloemvrotos, metropolitan of Sisanio and Siatista, Ο Εθνομάρτυς Μητροπολίτης Κυδωνιών Γρηγόριος (Athens 1956), Τσερνόγλου, A.,"Γρηγόριος ο Ωρολογάς", Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαιδεία, vol. 4 (Athens 1964), line 808-811.
7. These settlements are the following: Gümeç, Yayaköy, Hacıosman, Tursunlu, Kerem and Gümüşlü. The population was a combination of Muslims and Christians with the Muslim element being the more dominant one. See Σακκάρης, Γ., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών (Athens 1920), pp. 256-258.
8. Anonymous, “Στατιστική της Επαρχίας Εφέσου (έδρα Κυδωνιών)”, Ξενοφάνης 2 (1905), pp. 474-477, Σακκάρης, Γ., Ιστορία των Κυδωνιών (Athens 1920), pp. 254-258.
9. Αναγνωστοπούλου, Σ., Μικρά Ασία, 19ος αι.-1919. Οι Ελληνορθόδοξες Κοινότητες. Από το Μιλλέτ των Ρωμιών στο Ελληνικό Έθνος (Athens 1997).