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From Samos to Soho

The Unorthodox Life of Joseph Georgirenes, a Greek Archbishop

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John Penrose Barron

Born on the small Greek island of Melos, Joseph Georgirenes became a monk on Mount Athos and was consecrated as Archbishop of Samos in 1666. Five years later he left his diocese and travelled to Europe, visiting Rome, Paris, London and Oxford. Scholars such as Antoine Galland in Paris and Thomas Smith in Oxford invited this Greek Orthodox priest to take part in their theological discussions. Until now, Georgirenes has been best known for having established the first Greek Orthodox church in London in Soho, and for publishing a detailed account of the condition and practices of the Orthodox church living under Ottoman rule. This booklet – A Description of the Present State of Samos, Nicaria, Patmos and Mount Athos – was published in London in 1677 and is republished here for the first time in England. Caught up in the Popish Plot, Georgirenes left England in 1682 and it was not known what happened to him. For the first time, however, this biography reveals the extraordinary further adventures of this much-travelled priest.
CONTENTS: Melos: Between Two Cultures (1630s and 1640s) – Mount Athos (1650s) – Jonathan Harris: Constantinople (1661–1667) – Samos and Ikaria (1667–1671) – Patmos, Tuscany and Rome (1671–1675) – Marseilles and Paris (1675–1676) – London and the Greek Church (1676–1678) – The Popish Plot (1678–1679) – Exclusion from England (1679–1682) – John-Paul A. Ghobrial: Epilogue: The New World (1682–c.1700) – Introduction to the Description of the Present State of Samos, Nicaria, Patmos and Mount Athos – Nicholas Richardson: Translation of the Dedication – Facsimile reproduction of the text. A Description of the Present State of Samos, Nicaria, Patmos and Mount Athos, by Joseph Georgirenes, published in London 1677.