The purpose of the present thesis, based on well supported scientific evidence and historical records, is to trace the historical paths of the founding of the local Christian Church,of Serres which is highlighted the saints and also martyrs through time with close connection with Holy Mountain of AthosEspeccially highlighted the saints and martyrs during the period of slavery from the Ottoman Turks. The local new martyrs have been accepted the invitation of the head of Church, Crist, praise God with their holy life grace their homeland and inspire all of us with their brave confession and their torturing death.
In ancient times, the city is mentioned as Siris the Paeonian,and she was known for her high cultural level.The offer of Serres in history is remarkamble thanks to the mountain Paggaio which aid financial the king Phillipos of Macedonia. In the prefecture of Serres and in her capital Amfipolis have been written the preface and the epilogue of the great campaign of Alexander the great. During the Byzantine period (second half of the 4th A.D. – 1383 Siris (Serres) became capital of the military command of Strymonas. Sirris is renovated and fortified in order to become a base from which the Eastern Roman Empire could launch attacks against Bulgarians.
The period of Serbocracy (1345-1371) the Serres became the capital of princedom of Serres with first king Ouresis the son of Dousan, after him the kralaina Helen and in the end Ouglesis.
The period of Οttoman rule which beginning after the defeat of Serbians in Thrace the people of Serres were resisted heroically against the turks,but after close siege and lack of food they forced to surrender under condition in 19th September 1383. Serres gained prestigious reputation over the years,and was one of the first enslaved cities that responded to the call of the Society of Friends (Filiki Eteria) in order to overthrow Turkish rule. Leader of the Greek war, Emmanuel Pappas who was a tradesman and a banker. Emmanuel Pappas in cooperation with the Metropolitan Bishop of Serres Chrysanthos and other warriors fought and sacrificed themselves for the freedom of their country.
The fight for the freedom of Serres from the Turkish tyrannical thrall continued with the Macedonian Struggle against Bulgarian expansion and ended in the 29th of June 1913, when the brave Greek army, after 530 years of slavery, entered the destroyed town of Serres. Serres were finally liberated in 1944, after two further periods of Bulgarian occupation (1916-1918, 1941-1944).
In the historical Serres from ancient times the gospel message spread by Apostolos Pavlos and Andrew during of the hierapostolic action in Macedonia.The time of foundation of the first Cristian community and the Episcope of Serres was still remains indefinited, probably the 1th century. There is evidence that shows that there were bishops in Serres such as Maximinos and Prektekios since the 5th century. The EpiscopeofSerres belongedatfirsttoMetropolisofThessaloniki,whichwasvicariato of the apostolic throne of Rome.
According to the Taktikon (Notitia 3),the only source of church Serres after the annexation of Illyricum to Constantinople the Archbishopric of Serres, has the 14th place in the hierarchical ranking of 19 Archbishops and Bishops of the Metropolis of Thessaloniki. The Episcope of Serres belonged at first to Metropolis of Thessaloniki,which has two Thessaloniki,and Fillipon and when the thema of Strymon became the 9th century Archbishopric.
In the beging of the 10th century the church of Serres recorded as Archbishopric according to the Taktikon (Notitia 7), during the time of Leo VI’s and under emperor Vassilios II, was promoted as Metropolis of the Ecumenical Throne (58th in Syntagmatio) such as Zichni, Nicopolis or Nevrokopi, Meleniko, Ezevon and Cavern. First Metropolitan of Serres was Leontios (997 A.D.).
After the fall of Serres to Ottoman Turks (19.9.1383), not only did the church of Serres have to deal with the guidance of their flock, but also with the maintenance of national identity. The Holy Metropolis of Serreswith the Patriarchal and Synodical Act in 1928, the Hellenic State’s assent and the Resolution of the Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Greece, became subject to direct governance of the Autocephalous Church of Greece under specific conditions.However, it remained in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s territory.
The remarkable personality of the Ecumenical Patriarchis Callistos the first,is connected with the local church of Serres.He acted in the middle of 14th century and he was the fifth in order Αthonite Patriarchis who was occupied with Holy Mountain.He becames a vessel of grace, a divine selection,and has been fructified with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The saint Ioannikios the first, which is the builder of monastery John the Baptist affirmative replies to salvation and to timeless invitation of God "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44).The Monastery of John the Baptist in Serres is closely connected with Holy Mountain of Athos because the saint Ioannikios Archbishops of Ezoba was Αthonite.
The saint Theofilos of Zixni in east Macedonia was the most important writer of codexs in Holy Mountain of Athos, who was full of Holy Spirit, became church of Holy Triad, and always in his heart was living the Jesus Christ. The saint Nikodimos said that «The saint Theofilos practiced in Holy Mountain of Athos in The Monastery of Saint Basilios of Pantocrator in 1548 and he myroblyted after his death.
After the fall of Constantinople (1453 A.D.),beyond the collapsed of Byzantine empire and the sad consequences for Greece one special category of saints within the big spiritual family of the Orthodox Church are the kallinikoi New Martyrs. After the first Martyrs in the beggining of Cristianity, the New Martyrs defend the faithful and the offer of church in national and religious freedom. New Martyr doesn’t mean new martyrdom but a new appearance of Martyrs.They have being tortured and killed for the love of God and because of their confession and faith in Jesus Christ as a true God.And through of their lives it is obvious the faith the strength of their heart and finally their ispiration from the Cristian ideals.
New Martyrs helped the Greek race during the Ottoman slavery and they became lighthouses of hopes and competitiveness. The Church of Serres is very proud of its New Martyrs, who during the Ottoman slavery bore witness to their faith in Christ and in His Church and sanctified the city with their blood. Among New Martyrs, the first who stands out is the saint Ioannis of Serres who had been tortured for 11 months and burnt to death (May 12th) in the early 16th century.Four New Martyrs from the Church of Serres, first Patroulas who burnt to death in 1597/8 and a few years later Manolis Bostantgogloy Adamis of Karapapa from Paleokomi in 1623 and Alexander Tatarhanis in 1630 were sentenced to death by hanging.
Another New Martyr is the saint Niketas the Agiannanitis, who was a monk on mount Athos and preached the word of God in the Mosque of Ahmet Pasha in Serres. He died by hanging, after horrific torture, in Tzeriach – Pazar on the night of Holy and Great Saturday on April 4th in 1808.In 1816 Saint Akakios from Neochori -Macedonia near Thessaloniki he died by decapitation.
Chronologically, the last New Martyr is Saint Benedictus Osiomartys from the Ezova of Vissaltia. He was Hieromonk on the Metohi of Konstamonitou Monastery of mount Athos in Kalamaria. He was arrested and tortured. He died by decapitation in Thessaloniki on June 12th in 1821. Turks killed him in retaliation for the Revolution in Macedonia whose leader was Emmanuel Pappas from Serres.
The New Martyrs, are real treasure with religious and national contribution during the difficult times of Turkish Slavery. We praise God for His great gift, as we recognize the debt that this gift.