[The patriarch charged the monks with repeatedly denouncing Pope John Paul II and Orthodox leaders. "Patriarch Bartholomew has shown his openness to the Catholic Church by visiting Assisi in 2002 and maintaining personal relations with the pope. This is why these monks reacted -- they totally reject all Catholic-Orthodox ties," Rousos said.]
The Twenty-Six Venerable-Martyrs of Zographou
In the year 1274, at the Council of Lyons, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Paleologus decided to strengthen his dominion, which was close to falling, at the expense of union - unia - with Catholic Rome. This step provoked general discontent in the land, and in the year 1278, the Emperor issued an edict to introduce the unia in Byzantium, even if by forceful means. The Holy Mountain of Authos firmly resisted the unia. The Athonite monks dispatched an epistle to Michael, in which they solidly proved that the supremacy of the pope, his commemoration in the churches, the performance of the Eucharist on unleavened bread, the addition of the phrase "and the Son" (Filioque) cannot be accepted by the Orthodox, and they called on the Emperor to bethink himself. "We see clearly," it was said in the epistle, "that thou art a heretic, but we implore thee: leave all this and abide in that teaching which thou hast received Reject the unholy, new teachings of false knowledge, which adds conjectures to the faith."
Crusaders, who had been expelled from Palestine and had found refuge in Romania, declared to the Emperor their readiness to establish the authority of the pope by fire and the sword. Michael employed Turks and Tatars as well. When the troops approached Athos, which was so hateful to the Emperor, in order to irritate the Greeks, he decided to vent his malice on the Athonite Slavs. At Michael's order, the servants of the pope fell upon the Bulgarian Monastery of Zographou. When the demand to accept the unia was presented to the monks of Zographou, none of them wanted even to hear of Catholicism. The majority of the Zographans left the monastery, while the most steadfast, to the number of twenty-six, remained in the monastery tower. They were: Hegumen Thomas, monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Mich+Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªas, Cosmas, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Minas, Joasaph, Ioannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian Parthenius and four laymen. The holy martyrs for the Orthodox faith were burned alive in the monastery tower on the 10th of October 1284.