ROME – Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Melitis has died after a courageous battle with cancer. His health deteriorated rapidly the last two months when the cancer became aggressive. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who was to travel to Italy in order to visit Gennadios, since the two were friends for many years, upon learning of the death cancelled the trip and offered a Trisagion Service at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George at the Phanar.
The late Metropolitan Gennadios, known as Tsampikos Zervos, was born in the village Kremasti of Rhodes in Greece in 1937.
He completed his early education at the Primary School of the town of Kremasti and then continued his studies at the Patmiada Ecclesiastical School on the Holy island of Patmos and after his graduation he attended the famous and historic Theological School of Halki of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He was ordained a Deacon in 1960 by the late Metropolitan Spyridon of Rhodes. The then-Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras sent him to Naples where he served at the historic Church of Saints Peter and Paul, of the Greek Brotherhood of Naples, as Deacon, then Presbyter, and finally as Bishop until 1996. For about 10 years he taught Patristic Theology at the University Institute of Saint Nicholas, in Bari Italy.
He also studied Sociology and Psychology at the University of Naples. In 1970 he was awarded a Doctorate in Theology from the Pontifical Theological School of Southern Italy. The subject of his Doctoral Thesis was ‘The contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the unity of Christians.’
In 1970 he was unanimously elected auxiliary Bishop of the once-glorious Diocese of Krateia, and served as Assistant Bishop of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Austria and Exarch of Italy.
On August 26, 1996, he was unanimously elected Metropolitan of Italy and Melitis (Malta) by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was enthroned in the historic Church of St. George of the Greeks in Venice on October 27 of the same year. He has founded 65 parishes, five new Monasteries and re-established the Holy Monastery of Saint George the Greek. He succeeded as well in carrying out the Agreement between the Italian State and the Orthodox Metropolis of Italy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In 1999 he was awarded a Doctorate from the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, and in May 2004, the Italian State handed over to the Orthodox Church the historic Church of St. Theodore of Tyrone, in the historic center of Rome.
Upon completing 50 years of service in Italy, he was honored by the Republic of Italy with the Order of Senior Brigadier and by the island of Rhodes with the Gold Medal of the city of Rhodes. In addition, the Metropolitan was honored with the Golden Cross of Saint Demetrius, patron saint of Thessaloniki.