1. Hierotheos I, Patriarch of Alexandria
Hierotheos I came from the area of Kleinovos of Estiotis of Larissa in Thessaly,1 where he was born after the mid-18th century. In 1802 he was the bishop of Zitounio, according to an inscription in the church of St. Nikolaos in Almyros; in 1819 he was the metropolitan of Paronaxia, while between 1820 and 1824 he was the metropolitan of Nicaea.2 He assumed the patriarchal throne of Alexandria in 1825 as the successor of Patriarch Theophilos; however, this succession was not at all uneventful.
In particular, Theophilos was suspended from his duties because he had deserted his patriarchal throne for seven years (1818-1825) and, despite pressure, he refused to go to Alexandria or Constantinople and stayed in his birthplace Patmos. Thus, Chrysanthos, the Patriarch of Constantinople (1824-1826), and Polycarp, the patriarch of Jerusalem (1808-1827), by virtue of a synodal decision, suspended Theophilos from his duties on 14 October 1825. Papadopoulos believes that the election of Hierotheos I must have taken place on the same day. In any case, according to the relevant document, his election took place in October 1825.3
2. Activities of Hierotheos I in the Patriarchal Throne of Alexandria
After he was elected, Hierotheos I did not go straightly to Alexandria. In May and July 1826 he was in Cairo, according to a letter to Dionysios Romas, Frantseskos Karvelas, Panagiotis Stefanou and Nikolaos Kalyvas. In that letter Hierotheos describes an alarming situation in Alexandria and asks the contribution of the receivers in order to establish a Greek School in Egypt. The school was finally established in Cairo, financed by Hierotheos I. He established a Greek School in Alexandria as well. His interest in these schools is proven in his will, according to which he bequeathed 25,000 kuruş to the School of Cairo in order to both purchase a plot of land –whose income would be divided among the priests of the patriarchate and the poor– and pay the teacher.4
Hierotheos I also restored the church of St. Nikolaos in Cairo and the monastery of St Sabbas in Alexandria. He also founded a hotel, thus wasting a total amount of about 100,000 kuruş for all of them. The money had been collected by Greek and Russian donors, while the Tzar of Russia Nikolaos I himself offered a considerable amount so that the monastery of St. Nikolaos could be restored. Hierotheos I thanked the tzar for the donation and asked for new help to restore the monasteries of Bucharest and Jassy (Greek: Iasio, Romanian: Iaşi), which belonged to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. However, the Russian Synod only sent him some books and copies of the Orthodox Confession. Hierotheos I asked again for Russian financial help; he now wanted to establish the Greco-Arabian School, but without result. However, in 1842 he established a Graeco-Arabian School in Cairo. One year later he asked for money from Russia for the maintenance of the hospital operating in the monastery of St George in Cairo. Thanks to Porfiri Uspensky –a close friend of Hierotheos I– new financial help was finally sent to the Patriarch of Alexandria. However, Hierotheos I was already towards the end of his life.
The contribution of Hierotheos I to the entire Greek community of Egypt was significant. It is worth mentioning that Hierotheos I offered the amount of 14,000 talers and a lot of building material for the establishment of the church of Evangelismos (Annunciation) on a plot donated by Michail Tositsas to the Greek Community of Alexandria.5
3. Other Activities of Hierotheos I
A serious problem for the Orthodox Church of Alexandria was the activity of Uniate priests in Syria. The fact that they wore Orthodox clericals resulted in several Syrian Christians being misguided. It is interesting that, according to an opinion, the Unites were supported by the French diplomats of the Ottoman State, which shows another aspect of the penetration of the Great Powers into the Christian communities of the empire.
In an attempt to ward off the Uniate propaganda, Hierotheos I was helped by Tositsas and Stournaris.6 After their efforts, a sultanic firman was issued that forced the Uniate monks to change their clothing, as it is attested in a letter found in the correspondence of Muhammad Alī7 and a letter of Gregorios VI to Hierotheos I on 1 July 1838, where the first talks about the ‘triumph of Orthodoxy’. In a letter of Gregorios VI the latter talked about the preparation of an anti-papal encyclical. Hierotheos I replied giving his consent for a joint letter. In September of the same year the encyclical was already ready and was issued in 1839 on behalf of the four Patriarchs. At the same time, the presence of an Orthodox bishop in Aleppo –the centre of the Unite propaganda– was also decided as necessary; the patriarchates would jointly undertake to provide for the bishop. The Patriarchate of Alexandria undertook to pay an annual amount of 250 kuruş, according to a relevant letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch Germanos IV –countersigned by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Athansios– to Hierotheos I.8
The letter Hierotheos I sent to Nikolaos Protasov of the Russian Holy Synod reveals another aspect of the diverse activities of Hierotheos I: with the help of Michail Tositsas he paid the ransom required to free Greek captives in Egypt. Besides, with the help of Tositsas again –as well as with his own money– Hierotheos I saw to the return of the captives.9
4. The End of Hierotheos I
Hierotheos I died on 8 September 1845. By order of Muhammad Alī, he was buried with royal honours in the church of St. Nikolaos in Cairo.10 The period he served as Patriarch was particularly significant for the Church of Alexandria.
1. Evangelidis believes that the area of Kleinovos is in the prefecture of Trikala. See Ευαγγελίδης, Τ., ‘Οι Πατριάρχαι Αλεξανδρείας Παρθένιος, Θεόφιλος και Ιερόθεος’, Επετηρίς Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών, έτος Ε΄ (1928), p. 254. However, Feidas and Papadopoulos believe that the village was in Estiotis of Larissa, see Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια ΣΤ' (1966), p. 804, see entry ‘Ιερόθεος’; Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 805.
2. See Ευαγγελίδης, Τ., ‘Οι Πατριάρχαι Αλεξανδρείας Παρθένιος, Θεόφιλος και Ιερόθεος’, Επετηρίς Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών, έτος Ε΄ (1928), p. 254; Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια ΣΤ΄ (1966), p. 803; Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 805.
3. Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 805.
4. Σαβράμης, Ε., ‘Συμπληρωματικά του Αλεξανδρείας Ιεροθέου του Α΄ (1825-1845)’, Εκκλησιαστικός Φάρος 32 (1933), pp. 194-199.
5. Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 805.
6. Μαζαράκης, Γ., Συμβολή εις την Ιστορίαν της εν Αιγύπτω Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας (Alexandria 1932), p. 669.
7. Μαζαράκης, Γ., Συμβολή εις την Ιστορίαν της εν Αιγύπτω Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας (Alexandria 1932), pp. 669-670.
8. Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), pp. 809-810.
9. Σαβράμης, Ε., ‘Συμπληρωματικά του Αλεξανδρείας Ιεροθέου του Α΄ (1825-1845)’, Εκκλησιαστικός Φάρος 32 (Alexandria 1933), p. 201; Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 811; Μαζαράκης, Γ., Συμβολή εις την Ιστορίαν της εν Αιγύπτω Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας (Alexandria 1932), pp. 670-671.
10. Σαβράμης, Ε., ‘Συμπληρωματικά του Αλεξανδρείας Ιεροθέου του Α΄ (1825-1845)’, Εκκλησιαστικός Φάρος 32 (Alexandria 1933), pp. 203-204. Παπαδόπουλος, Χ., Ιστορία της Εκκλησίας Αλεξανδρείας, 62-1934 (Athens 1985), p. 812, republishes from Παρνασσός of 1915, pp. 197-198, the inscription above the grave of Hierotheos I.