Athens Cathedral

By: | Post date: July 2, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

Athens Cathedral (“the metropolis”). Tucked in the corner, the cathedral’s Mini Me, the far older Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos (Our Lady of Granting Requests Promptly), aka The Little Metropolis.

Facing down the cathedral, the statue of archbishop Damaskinos.
The inscription I caught sight of commemorates in Ancient Greek the fact that he was briefly vice regent and prime minister of Greece after WWII. From Digital Glypotheque, I learn that the other inscriptions I didn’t look around to see, in modern Greek and English, commemorate what he is now more famous for: his role in saving the Jews of Athens from the Holocaust.
A story that does the rounds of the internet a lot, but names an interlocutor who was not in Athens at the time, is that when the archbishop protested the beginning of the death trains out of Salonica, the Nazi authorities threatened to shoot him. As the back of the statue says, his response, alluding to Patriarch Gregory V, was:

Greek religious leaders are not shot, they are hanged. Kindly respect that tradition.

The other statue in the Square outside Athens Cathedral is quite famous, but surprisingly inconspicuous in real life: Constantine XI, last emperor of the Romans.
The inscription is Constantine’s final response to Mehmed the Conqueror, as recorded by the chronicler Sphranzes:

As to surrendering the city to you, it is not for me to decide or for anyone else of its citizens; for all of us have reached the mutual decision to die of our own free will, without any regard for our lives.

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