The Holy Metropolis of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios includes the islands of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios.
In the region of the Metropolis there are 37 Churches and 365 Chapels, in which about 25 priests officiate. Since 1988, the Metropolitan of Lemnos is Hierotheos II (Garifalos), who from 1968 until then served as Secretary of the Holy Synod.In the period 1990-1991, three temples were inaugurated.
The Metropolitan of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios Hierotheos
The Church of Lemnos is one of the oldest in Greece, since it is mentioned from the 4th century AD. In 325 the bishop of Hephaestia of Lemnos, Stratigios, participated in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. Bishop of Lemnos was also mentioned to be present in the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, in 680, in Penthekti , in 692, and also in the 7th Ecumenical Synod, in 787. In later Byzantine sources, there are numerous references to the high priests of Lemnos with the exception of the period of Frankish rule (1207-70).
During the Turkish occupation there is a constant reference to the metropolitans of Lemnos until the liberation of the island, in 1912.
Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that the church of Lemnos has been in continuous operation from the first Christian times until today.
Titles of the High Priest of Lemnos
From time to time the head of the metropolis of Lemnos had various titles, such as: bishop, archbishop, etc.
From the 19th century its official name is: “Sacred Metropolitan of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios and Hypertimos of the entire Aegean Sea”.
Time period Title
|Bishop of Hephaestia Lemnos
|Bishop of the city of Lemnos
|9th – 12th century
|Archbishop of Lemnos
|12th – 13th century
|Metropolitan of Lemnos
|Frankish rule, Latin authorized
|1321 and 1447 or 1448
|Archbishop of Lemnos and Imbros
|Metropolitan of Lemnos
|Removal of the Pope’s representative after a conciliation of Lemnos Joasaph with the Turks
|18th century 19th century-today
|Metropolitan of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios, Hypertimos Metropolitan of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios and Exarch of the entire Aegean Sea
Headquarters of the holy monastery of Lemnos
|4th century – 1207
|Hephaestia or city of Lemnos
|1270 – 15th century
|Kotsinos, possible coexistence with the representative of the Pope
|15th – 16th century
|Occasional headquarters at the Metropolis estate
|16th century until today
List of Archbishops of LemnosUntil the 15th century
|Stratigios (Hephaestia of Lemnos)
|680 and 692
|Siluanos (sinful bishop of the city of Lemnos)
|1100 or 1188
|Pentachthenes (archbishop) or Pentaktinis
|1191 or 1197
|Vasileios I (metropolitan)
|February of 1321
|Iakovos I (archbishop of Lemnos and Imbros)
|(anonymous archbishop of Lemnos)
|1447 or 1448
|Iakovos II (Archbishop of Lemnos and Imbros)
Ottoman period (until 1912)
|mid 16th century
|Maximos (metropolitan of Lemnos)
|Neophytos (humble metropolitan of Lemnos)
|1572 to 1598 (not continuously)
|1575 to 1578
|1604 to 1605 and 1611
|Constantius, from Vasilika, Lesvos
|1610 to 1616
|May to December 1616
|1617 to 1621
|Klimis I (second term)
|1642 to 1644
|Kallistos (second term)
|(;) until 16/4/1653
|Paisios (president of the Holy Monastery of Lemnos)
|16/4/1653 to 1654
|4/6/1654 and September 1661
|February 1655 to 1661
|(;) to 1697
|27/9/1697 to 1698
|1698 to 1707
|1707 to 1733
|mid 18th century
|1743 and 1746 to 1756
|Parthenios III Lindios
|August 1756 to 1764
|1/5/1764 to 1765
|1765 to October 1770
|Joachim II of Chios, the hieromartyr
|April 1771 to 1776
|1777 to 1795
|13/7/1795 to February 1814
|22/2/1814 as March 1824
|Makarios III Vamvouris, from Mytilene
|March 1824 to May 1836
|May 1836 to April 1839
|Ieronimos, from Lesvos
|April 1839 to December 1853
|28/12/1853 to 6/8/1888
|Joachim III of Kechagia, from Constantinople
|15/10/1888 to 3/1/1890
|Cyril the Byzantine
|14/2/1890 to 15/6/1899
|Athanasios Kapouralis, from Pyrgos Samos
|15/6/1899 to 1/10/1905
|Diodoros Maschas, from Kampos Chios
|4/10/1905 to 22/5/1912
|Gennadios Alexiadis, from Mysopolis Prousa
|31/5/1912 to July 1947
|Stefanos Daniilidis, from Sardes, Lemnos
|1947 to 1949
|first placeholder of Mytilene, Iakovos
|September 1949 to October 1950
|Vassilios II Atesis, from Skyros
|1950 to 1951
|second placeholder of Mytilene, Iakovos
|1/11/1951 to April 1959
|Dionysios II Charalambous, from Adramyttio of Mikra Asia
|1959 to 1960
|Ioakeim of Alexandroupolis
|29/5/1960 to November 1988
|Panteleimon Mertyris, by Ermioni Argolidas
|21/11/1988 until 2011
|Hierotheos II Garyfallos, from Athens
Agios Sozon, patron saint of Lemnos
Saint Sozon lived in the 3rd century and suffered a martyr’s death. Since the end of the 19th century he is the patron saint of Lemnos.
Saint Sozon lived during the 3rd century and before he became a Christian he was called Tarasios. He came from Lycaonia in Mikra Asia but he lived in Cilicia and he was a shepherd. Once he was in Pompeii, Cilicia. There, he saw a golden statue of goddess Artemis.Then he cut off the hand of the statue and distributed the gold to poor Christians. But he was caught, arrested and suffered a martyr’s death. His memory is honored by the Orthodox Church on September 7.
Patron saint of Lemnos
During the Byzantine era, the patron saint of Lemnos was Saint Alexander, whose relic was kept in Lemnos until 1308. This is mentioned in a code of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and is an indisputable fact. However, in 1308, in a pirate raid, his body was stolen and transported to Venice. Since then, the commemoration of St. Alexander as the patron saint of Lemnos gradually weakened.
Many changes and tragic events followed on the island: pirate raids, disputes of imperial families for its control, invasions of Franks and Byzantine rulers, who succeeded to each other, Venetian rule after the fall of Constantinople and finally Turkish rule from 1479. All these changes have resulted in the old habits being gradually forgotten.
The island began to recover from poverty and illiteracy in the mid-18th century. Lemnian merchants and sailors came in contact with Europe, Russia and Egypt. They gained wealth and slowly began to rebuild the old humble, and often ruined, temples of their villages. The ship-owners of Lemnos traveled to Constantinopοli, Smyrna and Alexandria, as well as to the ports of the Aegean and the Black Sea. On their way to the Dardanelles they gazed at their island from afar. A chapel, which was located on the SE coast of Lemnos, was giving them courage and strength to continue their battle with the sea. It was the church of Agios Sozon, and it is located near the village of Fisini.
The sailors of Lemnos considered Agios Sozon a savior, because, according to the myth, he once saved the shipwrecked by turning his cape into a boat. So, as they were facing the lighted candles, they prayed and made a wish, that he would keep them safe so they could return to their island.And when they were in danger of a storm, they again turned to their own saint for salvation, saying the wish: “Saint Sozon, save us!” And they promised to bring to him an image or a Divine Liturgy or anything each one of them could.
Similarly, the inhabitants of the island, who were waiting for their sea-stricken relatives, resorted to Agios Sozos with prayers and vows in order to bring them back safe.Thus, for the Lemnos seamanship and for the families of the expatriates, Saint Sozon gradually became the patron saint, and they had to go to the festival that was taking place every year on September 7. Towards the end of the 19th century he was established to be honored as the patron saint of Lemnos.
In 1887, in the official list of the name-day celebrations of Lemnos, the feast of Saint Sozon was not mentioned. The oldest written testimony of the celebration of Agios Sozon as the patron saint of the island is in 1906. This year the Lemnian Brotherhood of Alexandria decided to celebrate its patron saint Sozon on September 7, with vespers on the eve and Divine Liturgy on the next day, September 7. Therefore, the exact date of the establishment of St. Sozon as patron saint must be sought between 1887 and 1906.
Until today, the Lemnian immigrants of Australia, Canada, USA and South Africa continue this old tradition, gathering and celebrating the feast of St. Sozon. For them, the feast of the saint is the connecting link that connects them with their homeland and reminds them of their childhood years on the island.
The church of St. Sozon
The small church of St. Sozon is located on the SE coast of the island of Lemnos from the medieval years. In old tourist maps it is marked with the forged Cogito form.The various crews of the ships could not understand the exact pronunciation of the place names, resulting in word-of-mouth falsification and when a cartographer or traveler wrote them down on paper, the name became unrecognizable. Somehow from the phrase: “in Agio Sozonta” became the “Cogito”, which passed from one cartographer to the next for centuries.
The place name Cogito is first mentioned by the Italian scholar Porcacchi in 1572. On his map, he places Cogito in SE Lemnos and writes about it, that it is towards Garbi near a cape and that it has a miserable castle. The place name is then mentioned in 1680-90 by Piacenza, by Coronelli and on a map of an anonymous traveler. The position is also noted by Choiseul-Gouffier in 1785, both in his very accurate map and in his text. Therefore, the church of Agios Sozon exists at least since the beginning of the 16th century in SE Lemnos. Formerly in this place there was a small fortress, already ruined in 1572. In the present church the oldest elements that exist are some icons of the 19th century.
Recently, the cells of the temple were restored by Stenos brothers.
According to local tradition, the temple was built on this site at the suggestion of the saint himself in a miraculous way. In the area where the temple is today, there has always been a well with fresh water, holy water, which is located at sea level. Nearby, a resident of the neighboring village of Fisini found an old icon of Saint Sozon. He brought it to the village, but the next morning the icon was found again on the cape near the holy water. This was repeated many times, until the Saint presented himself to a pious shepherd and indicated to him the place where he wanted to build a church and place his image. Specifically, he told him to start in the morning, as every day, to go to his farm and he would guide him to the place. And so he did, but then a strange phenomenon happened. As he walked, behind him it was night and only in front of him, on the way to the cape, it was day. Following the miraculous message of the saint, he reached the cape, where the icon was located, and there the phenomenon stopped. So he realized that this was the place where the saint wanted the temple to be built. So he built there a chapel dedicated to the saint. The miraculous way in which the saint indicated the location of the temple became known throughout Lemnos. As a result, a large number of pilgrims flocked to his feast, on September 7, and a three-day festival was gradually established in the whole island. From the eve of the festival crowds of believers, proper caravans, gathered from all the villages. Others were hosted in the houses of the inhabitants, in the nearby village of Fisini, and others slept in the cells that were built around the temple. In the evening, the vesper Divine Liturgy was taking place and then a feast with lyres and violins. On the feast day, after the Divine Liturgy and the litany of the image, the festival continued until the next morning. The next day the pilgrims slowly left with their animals for their villages.
Alexopyrgos of Lemnos
The renovated buildings of the share.
Alexopyrgos or Alexiou Pyrgos is a Byzantine monastery metochi located in central Lemnos, on the borders of the Municipality of Nea Koutali.
In the plain that stretches between the villages of Aggarions and Pesperago (today’s Paleo Pedino), is the most remarkable medieval remnant of the area: Alexopyrgos or Alexiou Pyrgos, which was part of the monastery of Pantokrator of Mount Athos.
The monastery acquired the first lands in the area in 1393. In 1396, a new gold-bull is defined that: “… land was given … on the island of Theososton, Lemnos, called Ano Chorion, near the seashore and the village of Pisperagos, and he built a tower from the ground …
Ano Chorion is also mentioned in 1361 in a codex of the monastery of Meg. Lavra, while the mentioned tower is identified with Alexiou Pyrgos, a name given to the emperor Alexios II Komnenos, during whose time (1180-83) the monastery was built.
In the metochi impresses the restored two-storey building complex with the bank, the cells, the hostels, the stone well in the precinct and the other areas. The area is dominated by the church of the Transormation of the Savior, a basilica of the 14th century that was renovated in the year 1651, by the monk Galaktion, according to a built-in marble inscription:
“THE TEMPLE WAS RENOVATED BY GALAKTION THE MONK IN THE YEAR 1651”
Inside the church there are post-Byzantine frescoes -probably of the 18th century- while the portable icons are exhibited in the Ecclesiastical Museum in Myrina. The existence of a large bell of Russian origin has been mentioned in the past. Scattered or walled are Byzantine architectural remains and marble jewelry.
In 1856-59 the metochi was uninhabited. However, it was taxed on royal donations at 300 grosia (old coin).
In 1916 he was active with the abbot the deacon Photios, who in August 6 at celebration of the Savior “after the Divine Liturgy served a meal to a large number of pilgrims who had gathered from the surrounding villages” (ed. Lemnos, f. 37, 14/8 / 1916).
In 1927 owned an area of 2,500 acres, which was expropriated and distributed to landless residents of the villages of Pesperago, Aggariones, Sarpi, Portianou and refugees of Nea Koutali.
The metochi of Panagia of Trigi
In the area they had properties and other monasteries both in the Byzantine era and later. In a census report of 1304, “Ryax to Chlion Nero” is recorded as the property of the Megisti Lavra, a metochi with hot springs near the Harvest, northeast of the village. In 1405 it had 12 sojourners.
Theotokos in Trigi was an old independent monastery, which before 1364 had become part of the Simonopetra monastery. According to Gerasimos Smyrnakis, Patriarch Gerasimos III in the year 1798 confirmed that the metochi belongs to the Monastery of Simonos Petras. It was located in a fertile plain that ends in a small bay and determined the physiognomy of the village. In 1856-59, although uninhabited, it was taxed on royal allowances at 160 grosia. In 1924, 12,000 acres were expropriated, which were temporarily and permanently distributed to the locals in 1954.
The remnant of the metochi of the Trigi is the chapel of the Virgin Mary, which celebrates her Assumption, on the 15th of August, when there is an all-night vigil and a festival, which has been altered by the occasional renovations. Of the old stonework, only the eastern side with the three-sided sanctuary and the inscription survive:
“IT WAS BUILT … BY MONK AGAPIOS OF AXIOTI … IN YEAR 1706”,
which reveals some phase of renovation. Inside the church, icons of rare aesthetics and high value were saved, with the most important being the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, which belong like the church to the property of the Mount Athos monastery of Simonopetra and were not expropriated, like the above estates, according to decisions of the Expropriation Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In the surrounding area there are ruins of buildings of the metochi, which served as a residence of monks and workers and in which there was the church of St. Mary Magdalene, who is also considered the founder of the Monastery of Simon Petra, and is depicted in an icon, together with Saint Simon Myrovlytis, the founder of the Monastery. In the wider area there are two other chapels: Ag. Efimia, built a little above the sea, in the part of which, according to a tradition, the relics of the saint were washed away, when during the persecution of Constantine V of Kopronymos they threw them into the sea, and the church of Saints Anargyroi.
The Agiopavlitiko metochi
The community farm “Metropolis” is identified with the Byzantine monastery of Agios Pavlos or Agiopavlitiko, which was part of the homonymous monastery of Mount Athos. It is located in the region of the Municipality of Atsiki, between the villages of Karpasi and Livadochori. Exactly when it was founded is unknown.
It must be one of the first Mount Athos parts of the island, since in 1858, when the German traveler Conze visited the area, he copied from the inscription of the church, among others: “OKODOMITHI. . . CTFPs “, that was built, the year ” 6586 from the creation of the world “, a date that corresponds to 1078-79 AD.
The church of Panagia, which exists today in the complex, is post-Byzantine. It has been built on the ruins of an older temple, as evidenced by the many marble members that exist either embedded in its masonry or in the surrounding area. In addition to the 11th-century Byzantine inscription mentioned by Conze, several members have carved early Christian decoration, while sarcophagi, a synthron as well as many columns and marble fragments can be seen. Therefore, the site has a very old use and an excavation is required to clarify these issues.
The existence of the share is known from chrysoboulas of the monastery of Ag. Paul of Mount Athos in 1436. In 1462 Demetrios Paleologos – temporary Despot of Lemnos at the concession of Mohammed the Conqueror – ordered the monks of the monastery to close a “kapileion” that operated there. The existence of the share is confirmed by the travelers: Coronelli (1690-95), who characterizes it as majestic, Le Quien (1740: as Monasterio S. Pauli), Choiseul-Gouffier (1785: as Agio Paulitico Couvent) and Lacroix (1848).
The appellative “Metropolis”
In the past the monastery was used as the seat of the metropolitan of Lemnos. This is how both the synthron and the impressive carved sarcophagi are interpreted. Most likely this happened during the 15th century. The German archaeologist Fredrich claims that the transfer of the metropolitan’s seat to the monastery of St. Pavlou was made around 1395, without providing any evidence.
The former seat of the metropolitan of Lemnos was the Hephaestia and, after its decline, Kotsinos. During the period of Venetian rule (1207-77) the Latins did not allow the existence of an Orthodox metropolitan on the island and installed a representative of the Pope. After the expulsion of the Venetians from the island in 1277 and the establishment of an Orthodox metropolitan again, he settled in Kotsinos.
During the 15th century and until 1479, when it was ceded to the Ottomans, the island went through difficult years. It is most probable that during this period the transfer of the metropolitan seat from Kotsinos to Agios Pavlos took place, since from 1408 Kotsinos was owned by the Genoese Gatelouzi, faithful to the western doctrine. This is supported by a definition that exists in the Mount Athos record of the census of 1430 and refers to the area of Kotsinos: “… a road leading to the Archdiocese …”, which implies that in 1430 the Archdiocese of Lemnos was not based in Kotsinos, but he had been transported inland and there was a road leading to it.
After the Ottoman conquest, the Orthodox metropolitan settled in the Castle (Myrina). Thus the monastery of Agios Pavlos acquired the appellative Old Metropolis or Metropolis, which it maintained throughout the Turkish occupation and continues to this day. It is not excluded that since then the monastery has been used either as a place of recreation of each metropolitan or as a second metropolitan residence.
Then the monastery and Likoli, as the Ottomans called the nearby settlement of the sojourners of the metochi, were destroyed and abandoned by their inhabitants sometime after 1695, a year in which Coronelli visited the metochi and was impressed by it.
The only roofless temple in the world! – Panagia Kakaviotissa of Lemnos
Panagia was named Kakaviotissa from the mountain Kakavo where her chapel is located. It is the only roofless church in the world, which is built inside a cave. It is not exactly a cave but a recess formed by the rocks. Under this rocky balcony, ascetics chose the place of Kakavos as early as 1305, to asceticize and glorify the Virgin Mary. They built the church for the operation of the monks, who practiced in the surrounding caves of the mountain.
Once the monks died, new ascetics did not come and the last one who stayed, decided to leave Lemnos and go to Mount Athos. Before leaving, he found a Lemnos from the Moumtzis family, from Kontia, who had his mantra there close and entrusted to him the icon of the Virgin Mary, the “Rodon the amaranton”. The monk asked the shepherd to upload the image to the temple of each Lambrotrite to be served. Then the ascetic entered the sea, opened his robe, which became a boat and left for Mount Athos. The metochi of Panagia Kakaviotissa is located near the now ruined village of Zemata or Zymata in the area of Kontias, just 4 kilometers from Myrina. Panagia Kakaviotissa is one of the many old Mount Athos metochi of Lemnos.
The metochi has been known since 1305, the year it became the property of the monastery of Megisti Lavra. Monks then from Agios Efstratios who belonged to the monastery of the Great Lavra, settled in the cave, to be protected from the invasions of the Turks. The location of the church is impressive.
It is located in an inaccessible cave, on the edge of the mountain. The cave is in an ideal location for hermits. Even today in a small cave next door we find traces of people who go to the cave to isolate themselves and pray. There are cans, spiritual Christian books and bedding. The chapel operates and celebrates every Lambrotrite, when the owners of the icon raise it in the temple, to be used.
Lemnos and Mount Athos on a map of 1588