Gregory of Durrës

Gregory of Durrës (Al. Gregori i Durrësit, Gk Grêgorios ho Dyrrakhíu)[notes 1] (or Gregory the Printer) (c. 1701–1772)[1] was an Albanian scholar, printer, typographer, and teacher, and an Eastern Orthodox Christian monk[2] and cleric of Ottoman Albania who is thought to have invented the Elbasan script, with which he wrote the Elbasan Gospel Manuscript. The manuscript is the oldest known piece of Albanian Orthodox literature, as well as the oldest known Orthodox Bible translation made into Albanian.

Grigor Konstantinidhi
Grêgorios ho Dyrrakhíu
Portrait of Gregory of Durrës, from a book printed in Voskopojë (1742)
Died1772 (aged c. 75)
OccupationPrinter, teacher at the New Academy of Moschopolis, inventor of Elbasan script
Notable work
Elbasan Gospel Manuscript

Early lifeEdit

Born c.1701 in Voskopoja, Grigori studied at the ”New Academy” (a middle school),[3] and would eventually become a professor there.[4] The earliest mention of Gregory is in 1720 when he is noted to have met a Serbian illuminist in Ottoman Berat. Gregory is reported to have been a student of the Aromanian philosopher Ioannis Chalkeus, a significant figure in the Greek Enlightenment.[5]

Academic careerEdit

As a budding scholar, Gregory first arrived in Voskopoja some time before 1730, according to historical author Robert Elsie.[5][notes 2][notes 3][6] Gregory was a teacher for a while at the New Academy of Voskopoja.[7] In 1731 he became a monk in Venice, where he learned and taught the typographic craft from the Venetian printmaker Nikolaos Glykys.[8]

Career in printingEdit

Around 1730 Gregory founded the printing press of Voskopoja. This printing press was brought with him from Venice, where Albanian masters had learned typography. The printing press of Voskopoja had 14 acolytes, which are used for liturgical purposes. Gregory oversaw the printing press until its destruction in 1764.[citation needed]

In 1746, Gregory is thought to have taken up residence at Saint Gjon Vladimir's Church, Elbasan.[5] Gregory was the first to translate the Old and New Testament into Albanian, using an original alphabet he had invented sometime around 1761.[notes 4] His translations, however, have been lost. After moving to Elbasan, he introduced the famous Elbasan Gospel Manuscript in 1761.[5]

Later life and deathEdit

In 1768, he became Archbishop of the newly created Archbishopric of Durrës. After the abolition of the Ohrid Patriarchate in 1768, Gregory was appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as Metropolitan of Durrës.[9]

Gregory had collected a library's worth of biblical literature throughout his life.[10] Later in life, Gregory donated the books to the local library, which was destroyed in 1769 when Voskopoja was burned.[11]

He is said to have died in Venice in 1769, but another historian[by whom?] approximates his death in 1772 in Shen Gjon Vladimir, Shijon in Elbasan.


Gregory published his first work, "Life of Saint Nikodemos" in 1741, and in 1744 he was chosen as deputy rector of the New Academy.[5] Other original works include:

  • Akoluthia of Saint Theodora (1731)
  • Akoluthia of St. Harallamb (1734)
  • Akoluthia of Saint Seraphim (1735)
  • Akoluthia of St. Naum (1740)
  • Akoluthia of the Fifteen Martyrs (1741)
  • Akoluthia of St. Clement (1741)
  • Akoluthia of St. John Vladimir (1742)
  • Akoluthia of the Seven Saints (1742) )
  • Pastoral Letter of Patriarch Joasaf of Ohrid (1742)
  • Akoluthia of Saint Vision (1744)
  • Akoluthia of Saint Vision (1744)
  • Akoluthia of Saint Anthony (1746)
  • Catechism (1746)
  • Leonardo Lombardi (1749)
  • Oktaikos (1750)


  1. ^ Grigori is also recorded as Grigori Voskopojari (Eng: Gregory of Voskopoja) (Cornis-Pope, Marcel; Neubauer, John (2004). History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 499. ISBN 9789027234537.); Gregory the Printer; or Gregory Constantinidhi (Greek: Gregorios Typografos) (Elsie, Robert (2013). A Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I.B.Tauris. p. 181. ISBN 9781780764313.). He has been confused with Gregory of Durrës throughout history, and may indeed be the same person.
  2. ^ According to Robert Elsie, after his move to Voskopoja Gregory the cleric became confused with another, different Gregory—that being "Gregory the Printer"—and both were at times referred to as "Gregory of Voskopoja".
  3. ^ Most other scholars, including Maximilian Peyfuss, think that Gregory of Durrës and Gregory of Voskopoja are one and the same person.
  4. ^ According to Elsie, the alphabet was invented in 1761.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Olschowsky, Heinrich; Leipzig, Bibliographisches Institut (1990). Literaturen Ost- und Südosteuropas (in German) (Translation: "Grigori i Durresit (18 jh) Albanian" ed.). Bibliographisches Institut. ISBN 9783323003224.
  2. ^ Young, Antonia; Hodgson, John; Young, Nigel (1997). Albania (Translation: The purported writer, Gregory of Durrës, was an Orthodox cleric. ed.). Clio Press. p. 194. ISBN 9781851092604. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  3. ^ Klein, Jared; Joseph, Brian; Fritz, Matthias (2018). Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9783110540529.
  4. ^ Снегаров, Иван (1932). История на Охридската архиепископия-патриаршия. От падането ѝ под турците до нейното унищожение (1294 – 1767 г.), София. Page 354
  5. ^ a b c d e Elsie, Robert. "Gregory of Durrës".
  6. ^ Elsie, Robert (1995). "The Elbasan Gospel Manuscript ("Anonimi i Elbasanit"), 1761, and the Struggle for an Original Albanian Alphabet" (PDF). Südost-Forschungen. Regensburg, Germany: Südost-Institut. 54: 3. ISSN 0081-9077.
  7. ^ Evlogio Kurilas (1930). Gregorios Argirokastritis, Athens, Theologia, p. 263 to 266
  8. ^ Maximilian Peyfuss (2012). Shtypshkronja e Voskopojës 1731-1769, Tiranë
  9. ^ Shqipërisë, Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të; shqiptar, Fjalori enciklopedik (1985). Fjalor enciklopedik shqiptar (in Albanian) (Translation: In 1768 he was elected bishop of Durres and was therefore called "Gregory of Durres". The last years apparently spent in the monastery of St. John near Elbasan. He wrote any religious or religious textbooks and speeches in Greek. ed.). Akademia e Shkencave e RPSSH. p. 1176.
  10. ^ Lloshi, Xhevat (2008). Rreth alfabetit të shqipes: me rastin e 100-vjetorit të Kongresit të Manastirit (in Albanian) (Translation: Within the Orthodox pressure itself at that time there were Orthodox communities dependent on the Ochrid Patriarchate, which was destroyed only two years before the first burning of Voskopoja. From there came the influence of writing Albanian with Cyrillic letters. Attempts were made to construct Albanian writing in original alphabets, in order to break away from foreign languages. This is represented by Gregory of Durres, by Dhaskal Todor, who had been a pupil of Kavaliot, and as the author of Elbasan Anonymous is held Pope Totas, also the creator of the original alphabet. ed.). Logos-A. p. 278. ISBN 9789989582684. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  11. ^ Hysa, Mahmud (1995). Autorë dhe tekste nga letërsia e vjetër shqiptare (in Albanian) (Translation: Books were donated by many scholars such as George Sina who donated many Greek and Roman books, Gregory of Durres who "at the end of his life dedicated all the valuable books in the library" and many Voskopoi emigrants. The library was destroyed in 1769 ed.). Flaka e vëllazërimit. p. 60. ISBN 9789989658068. Retrieved 30 October 2019.