Bloody Cassocks

From the moment that the foundation, schism and growth of the Exarchate church signalled the beginning of the Bulgarian national liberation movement, the involvement of the clergy of Macedonia in the Greek-Bulgarian conflict was unavoidable. The rural population was still overwhelmingly illiterate but also deeply religious and entirely dependent on the oftentimes equally illiterate lower clergy. Priesthood was often a hereditary position and this increased the influence of certain families from one generation to the next. If these families became Exarchist, then the whole village would convert.

The problems were made more complex by the guarded stance of the Patriarchate towards the Exarchate church until the end of the 10th century and by the distrust which most often characterised the relationships between Bishops and villagers.

The second line of defence was the new generation of educated and dynamic Bishops which the Patriarchate had installed in Macedonia at the beginning of the century, convinced that it now had to take a more assertive position. They were successful in reversing the climate and inspiring self-confidence not only with the Cross but with the Gras rifle in hand, if this was necessary. The best known of these Bishops are Germanos Karavangelis (Kastoria), Joachim Foropoulos (Monastir) and Chrysostomos Kalafatis (Drama), whilst Fotios Kapides (Korytsa) and Aimilianos Lazarides (Petra) themselves fell victim to the Struggle for Macedonia.