Catholic and Protestant Missions in late 19th century Pontus, as reported in the Vatican archives and in Italian and American diplomatic sources.

During the course of the 19th century, Catholic missions and American Protestant missions were established in the Pontus region. Stations were opened in important cities of the coastline and the hinterland or following the existence of catholic and protestant communities. The missionaries carried on relief work, beside their preaching efforts among the people and invested in important missing infrastructures. In addition, they founded centers of high education, presenting Christian organizations as establishments divulging western civilization. Due to their social involvement, in particular during several humanitarian crises in Eastern Anatolia, catholic and protestant missionaries gained a special position in pontian society. As a result, Italian and American diplomats referred to the mission stations as an extension, "par excellence", of their countries' wealth, culture, and international recognition. By the end of the 19th century the missions had assumed a "dual identity". They were considered geopolitical representatives of the Great Powers and important humanitarian organizations. Furthermore, at the beginning of the 20th century, protestant and catholic missions had achieved their peak, in accordance with the social growth of the Christian communities of Pontos.

Alexandros Kastrinakis P.

PhD student at the University of West Macedonia in Florina (Greece).

Title of PhD thesis: "The national, cultural and religious identity of Pontian Greeks, based on the Italian, American diplomatic archives and the Vatican archives, during the period from 1850 to 1924."