athens of america

Archbishop Iakovos of America


Birth name Demetrios Coucouzis
Archbishopate began April 1, 1959
Predecessor Michael
Archbishopate end July 29, 1996
Successor Spyridon
Imvros, Ottoman Empire
Died April 10, 2005
Stamford, Connecticut, USA

Archbishop Iakovos (July 29, 1911 - April 10, 2005) (Greek: Ιάκωβος, born Demetrios Coucouzis, Δημήτριος Κουκούζης) was the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America from 1959 until his resignation in 1996. He was born on the island of Imvros, Ottoman Empire and died in Connecticut, USA.


Born on the Island of Imvros, Ottoman Empire on July 29, 1911 to Maria and Athanasios Coucouzis, he had two sisters Virginia and Chrysanthi and a brother Panagiotis. He enrolled at age 15 in the Ecumenical Patriarchal Theological School at Halki. After graduating with high honors, Demetrios Coucouzis was ordained deacon in 1934, taking the ecclesiastical name Iakovos. Five years after his ordination, Deacon Iakovos received an invitation to serve as Archdeacon to the late Archbishop Athenagoras, the Primate of North and South America, who later (1949-72) became Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Ordained a priest in 1940 in Lowell, Massachusetts, he served at St. George Church, Hartford, Connecticut, while teaching and serving as assistant dean of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School, then in Pomfret, Connecticut and now in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1941, he was named Preacher at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York City and in the summer of 1942 served as temporary Dean of St. Nicholas Church in St. Louis, Missouri. He was appointed Dean of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Boston in 1942 and remained there until 1954. In 1945 he earned a Master of Sacred Theology Degree from Harvard University.

In 1954, he was ordained Bishop of Melita, by his spiritual father and mentor, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, for whom he served four years as personal representative of the Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches in Geneva. On February 14, 1959, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Iakovos as successor to Archbishop Michael, who died July 15, 1958, as primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He was enthroned April 1, 1959 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, assuming responsibility for what has grown to over 500 parishes in the United States.

In addition to his duties as primate, Archbishop Iakovos was Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; president of the board of education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America; founder and chairman of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA); chairman of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation in the USA, and of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; honorary board of the Advisory Council on Religious Rights in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

A supporter of civil rights, Archbishop Iakovos was one of the few prominent non-African American clergymen who had the courage to walk hand in hand with Martin Luther King Jr. during the famous march in Selma, Alabama. A picture of this historic moment, with Archbishop Iakovos to the right of Martin Luther King Jr., was captured on the cover of Life Magazine on March 26, 1965.

Iakovos also became the first Greek Orthodox archbishop to meet with a Roman Catholic Pope in 350 years when he met Pope John XXIII in 1959.

He spent nine years on the World Council of Churches and met with every U.S. president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.

Iakovos came into conflict with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I after he supported a move by 29 bishops towards the administrative unification of Eastern Orthodox churches in America. It is widely believed that this clash forced him to resign in 1996.

Archbishop Iakovos, died on April 10, 2005 at Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CT, from a pulmonary ailment. He was buried on April 15 in the grounds of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Archbishop Iakovos was the last Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that held the title of Archbishop of North and South America. After him the Archbishop's title was limited to "Archbishop of America" instead of "Archbishop of North and South America".

His official title was:

His Eminence, Iakovos, Archbishop of North and South America, Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans;

in Greek:

Η Αυτού Σεβασμιότης ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Βορείου και Νοτίου Αμερικής, Υπέρτιμος και Έξαρχος Ωκεανών Ατλαντικού τε και Ειρηνικού Ιάκωβος

Medals and awards

  • Humanitarian Award IOCC (1995)

International Orthodox Christian Charities Chicago, Illinois

  • Antiochian Gold Medal of Merit (1995)

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

  • Grand Cross of Cyprus (1995)

President of Cyprus Glafkos Klerides New York, New York

  • Kolokotronis Award (1995)

Panarcadian Federation of America New York, New York

  • Great Cross of St. Sava (1992)

Patriarch Pavle of Serbia New York, New York

  • Freedom Award (1992)

Pancyprian Association of America New York, New York

  • Gold Medal (1991)

Federation of Hellenic Societies of New York New York, New York

  • Grand Cross of Robert Schuman (1991)

Athens, Greece

  • Gold Medal of the City of Thessaloniki (1990)

Thessaloniki, Greece

  • Gold Medal of the City of Athens (1989)

Mayor of Athens Miltiadis Evert Athens, Greece

  • Grand Cross of Makarios III (1989)

President of Cyprus George Vasiliou New York, New York

  • Cross of Lambeth (1988)

Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie London, England

  • Homeric Award (1988)

Chian Federation New York, New York

  • Socratic Award (1988)

Order of AHEPA Washington, D.C.

  • John LaFarge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice (1987)

New York, New York

Ellis Island, New York

  • Dr. George C. Cotzias Humanitarian Award (1986)

New York, New York

  • Liberty Award (1986)

Mayor of New York Edward Koch New York, New York

  • Humanitarian Award (1985)

McBurney School New York, New York

  • AXIOS Man of the Year (1985)

Los Angeles, California

  • Grand Cross of Honor (1984)

President of Greece Constantine Karamanlis Athens, Greece

  • Gold Medal (1984)

Academy of Athens Athens, Greece

  • The Compostela Award (1984)

Cathedral of St. John New York, New York

  • Man of the Year Alpha-Omega Award (1984)

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Silver World Award (1984)

Boy Scouts of America

  • Humanitarian Award (1983)

Hellenic Medical Society New York, New York

  • Cyprus Children's Fund (1983)
  • Great Cross of the Holy Sepulchre (1982)

Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem

  • Man of the Year (1982)

St. Paul's Society New York, New York

  • Clergyman of the Year (1981)

Society for the Family of Man New York City Council of Churches

  • Inaugural Award (1981)

New York University New York, New York

President of USA Jimmy Carter Washington, D.C.

  • Alumni Citation (1974)

Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Boston, Massachusetts

  • Sam Levenson Memorial Award (1972)

Jewish Heritage Week

  • Man of Conscience Award (1971)

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation

  • Clergyman of the Year (1971)

Society for the Family of Man New York City Council of Churches

  • Distinguished American in Volunteer Service (1970)

The White House Washington, D.C.

  • Clergyman of the Year (1970)

Religious Heritage of America

  • Religious Leader Award (1969)

National Conference of Christians and Jews

  • Gold Medal of Athens (1968)

Mayor of Athens, Demetrios Ritsios Athens, Greece

  • Gold Medal for Courageous Leadership (1966)

National Conference of Christians and Jews New York, New York

  • Great Cross of the Holy Sepulchre (1961)

Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem

Photo gallery


  • The Apanta on International Human Rights and on National Issues (University Studio Press, Thessaloniki, 2008) (ISBN 9789601216928)


External links

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