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Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy

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Title: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy  
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Subject: Eastern Orthodoxy in Italy, San Jacopo sopr'Arno, Mokissos, Phyletism, Hesychasm
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Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Malta and Exarchate of Southern Europe is a diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople with see in Venice. The diocese was created in 1991. Current Archbishop and Metropolitan is Gennadios Zervos.


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After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the southern areas of Italy, such as Sicily, Apulia, and Calabria, remained under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) until the Norman conquest in the 11th century. In 1054, the Great Schism divided the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. The Orthodox bishops were replaced by Roman Catholic bishops, and many Orthodox churches, monasteries, convents, and priories were suppressed or destroyed. By 1200, this division had essentially been realized in Sicily and southern mainland Italy by the gradual appointment by the Norman kings of Roman Catholic bishops.

The Italo-Byzantine Monastery of St Mary of Grottaferrata, 20 kilometers south of Rome, was founded by St Nilus of Rossano in 1004, fifty years before the division between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church, and remains to this day an enclave of Byzantine tradition under the Roman jurisdiction. The coming of Albanian Orthodox migrants to Southern Italy contributed to a brief revival of Orthodoxy in the fifteenth century, but soon the Albanians were assimilated into the Roman Catholic Church, while preserving some of their autonomy and ritual distinctiveness within the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, of the Byzantine Rite.

The Italian Orthodox Church went underground, and its Bishops had to move around to avoid persecution. Consequently, they were referred to as bishops residing in a given place, rather than as diocesan territorial overseers. However, due to its small numbers and persistent persecution by their Roman Catholic brothers, the Italian Orthodox Church became almost extinct, and there were times when gaps existed in its hierarchy. Due to persecution, the belief came into being that many married bishops were ordained secretly, although this practice was not endorsed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the Church has survived to this day and is experiencing a period of revitalization.

After the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople re-organized the Orthodox churches in

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