January 15, 2024

January 15, 1889 - The Day Saint Nektarios Was Ordained Metropolitan of Pentapolis

Photo of St. Nektarios taken on the day of his ordination as Metropolitan of Pentapolis.
Saint Nektarios was ordained to the priesthood by Patriarch Sophronios IV on March 23rd 1886 in the Patriarchal Church of Saint Savvas. The same year he was awarded with the office of Archimandrite by the Metropolitan of Nubia as mandated by Patriarch Sophronios IV. On the 15th of January in 1889, the titular Metropolitan Neilos of Pentapolis having reposed, the Patriarch of Alexandria Sophronios IV (1798-1899) elevated Archimandrite Nektarios to Metropolitan of Pentapolis.

The Ordination of Saint Nektarios as Metropolitan
In Codex 66 of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and specifically on page 394, there is a handwritten record of the Act of election of the new Metropolitan of Pentapolis, in calligraphic letters according to the custom of the time, covering almost the entire said page. Among other things, we read the following: "At the prompting and with the permission of His All-Holiness and Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of the great city of Alexandria and all of Africa" there gathered in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, besides himself, the former Archbishop of Kerkyra Antonios Hariatis and the Archbishop of Sinai Porphyrios Maroudas, and they proceeded to the election of the new Metropolitan of Pentapolis. Three names made up the so-called Triprosopos, i.e. the three candidates from which the new Metropolitan of Pentapolis would be chosen. The aforementioned codex describes the process as follows:
First of all... the most venerable of hieromonks and Archimandrite Mr. Nektarios Kephalas. Secondly, the most venerable among hieromonks, Mr. Chrysanthos, and thirdly, the most venerable among hieromonks, Mr. Paisios, and the names were recorded in this sacred Codex of the most holy Throne of Alexandria in perpetuity. In the year of our salvation one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine in the month of January of the 2nd Indiction. Of the above three candidates named above, Nektarios Kephalas was elected Metropolitan of Pentapolis in succession to the previously deceased Neilos.

In the same Codex, right below the Act of election of the new Metropolitan of Pentapolis, there is also recorded the Act of ordination of Saint Nektarios as Metropolitan of Pentapolis:

Today, the 15th of January of the year of salvation 1889, a Sunday, as a result of the above memorandum, there officiated Patriarchally in the sacred Temple of Saint Nicholas two Archbishops, Antonios Hariatis of Kerkyra and Porphyrios of Sinai, who ordained the Hieromonk Archimandrite Nektarios Kaphalas as Metropolitan of the once brilliant Metropolis of Pentapolis, and this act our Patriarchate has now included in this our sacred Codex in perpetuity.

+ The Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Sophronios

Saint Nektarios continued as a high priest the same praiseworthy actions that he had shown as an Archimandrite, taking no account of the toils or sufferings or rewards or praises, but always having his eyes fixed on the Lord, the preeminent Good Shepherd, and the lost sheep he bore upon His shoulders. Although he was virtually unpaid, since "due to financial difficulties" he was never paid during the sixteen months since his ordination as high priest, this did not dampen his zeal.

About Pentapolis
Pentapolis comprised a portion of the eastern region of Libya, and was part of Cyrenaica. Cyrenaica was colonized by the Greeks beginning in the seventh century BC when it was known as Kyrenaika. The first and most important colony was that of Cyrene, established in about 631 BC by colonists from the Greek island of Thera, which they had abandoned because of a severe famine. The eastern portion of the province, with no major population centers, was called Marmarica; the more important western portion was known as the Pentapolis, as it comprised five cities: Cyrene (near the modern village of Shahat) with its port of Apollonia (Marsa Susa), Arsinoe or Taucheira (Tocra), Euesperides or Berenice (near modern Benghazi), Balagrae (Bayda) and Barce (Marj) – of which the chief was the eponymous Cyrene. The term "Pentapolis" continued to be used as a synonym for Cyrenaica. In the south, the Pentapolis faded into the Saharan tribal areas, including the pharaonic oracle of Ammonium.

According to one tradition, Saint Mark the Evangelist was born in the Pentapolis, and later returned after preaching with Saint Paul in Colosse (Col 4:10) and Rome (Phil 24; 2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria. Since the First Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in AD 325, Cyrenaica had been recognized as an ecclesiastical province of the See of Alexandria, in accordance with the ruling of the Nicaean Fathers.

After being repeatedly destroyed and restored during the Roman period, Pentapolis became a mere borough, but was nevertheless the site of a diocese. Its bishop, Zopyros, was present at the First Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in 325. The subscriptions at the Ecumenical Synods of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) give the names of two other bishops, Zenobios and Theodoros.

Although it retained the title "Pentapolis", the ecclesiastic province actually included all of the Cyrenaica, not just the five cities. Pentapolis still is under the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. 

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