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The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy (and Malta from ] until the creation of the Exarchate of Malta in 2021), officially the Sacred Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe (Italian: Sacra Arcidiocesi Ortodossa d'Italia ed Esarcato per l'Europa Meridionale), is a diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople with see in Venice. The diocese was created in 1991. The current archbishop and exarch is Polykarpos Stavropoulos.[
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many areas of Italy, remained under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) until the Longobard and 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 Italy by the gradual appointment by the Longobard and Norman kings of Roman Catholic bishops.
The Italo-Byzantine Monastery of St Mary of Grottaferrata, 20 kilometers south of Rome, was founded by Saint Nilus the Younger 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 and Greek Orthodox refugees to Southern Italy due to Ottoman conquests in the latter portion of the 1500s contributed to a brief revival of Orthodoxy and Greek culture. Soon the new arrivals were assimilated to the Catholic Church, preserving the Byzantine Rite and some of their autonomy within the Eastern-rite Italo-Albanian Catholic Church.
After the fall of Constantinople, many Greeks sought refuge in Italy and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople appointed a series of Metropolitans, who resided in Venice from 1537 to 1797. But it was not until 1539 that the Greek community of Venice was authorised to begin building the church of San Giorgio dei Greci which still stands in the centre of the city on the canal known as the Rio dei Greci. The church was completed in 1573 and is the oldest of the churches of the Greek diaspora in western Europe.
In 1557, Venice's Greek community had nominated Pachomios, bishop of Zante and Cephalonia, to act in their church as bishop, which he apparently did for one year only. In 1577 a Greek Orthodox archbishop resided in Venice who was recognized him as the religious head of the Greek Orthodox community in Venice, though with the non-Venetian title of Archbishop of Philadelphia.
From the Napoleonic era until 1922 the Orthodox communities in Italy remained disorganized and dependent upon visiting priests and bishops. Since 1991 the Greek Orthodox are under the authority of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy by an act of the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarchate). The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople re-organized the Orthodox churches in Italy: initially under the Exarchate of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (1922-1963), then under the Archbishop of Austria and Exarch of Hungary (1963-1991), and finally under the newly created Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe in 1991, with its Metropolitan See in Venice.