The Catholic Community of Syros: The island of Syros hosts a vast Catholic community, which reaches almost half of the island's population. There is also an equal quantity of Catholic and Orthodox churches. The most impressive Catholic church is the church of Saint George, on the highest point of Ano Syros village, with the Centre of Historical Studies of Catholic Bishopric on the back side of the church.
The equality between the Catholic and Orthodox people is an interesting fact since Orthodoxy is actually the main dogma in Greece. This shows the influence of the Venetians, who conquered the island in medieval times and occupied it for many centuries. During this period, Syros became a bastion of Catholicism and, in fact, it was also referred to as the Island of the Pope.
Even when the Ottomans dominated the island, the Catholic influence remained and Syros came under the protection of France and the Vatican. Moreover, the French had ensured some privileges for the Catholic community of Syros from the Ottomans. Many residents became Catholic during that period of time and Catholic monasteries were founded, such as the Capuchin Monastery and the Monastery of Jesuits that still stand today in Ano Syros.
Later on, when Greece was deliberated from the Ottomans and the Greek State was established, the Catholic population of Syros was Hellenized and changed their Latin names to Greek, for example, Russo to Roussos, Vuccino to Voutsinos, Vacondio to Vakondios, etc.
The integration into the Greek State did not provoke any problems and there was a good relationship between the old Roman Catholic residents of Syros and the refugees from Asia Minor, who arrived on the island in 1921 and were mostly Greek Orthodox. Therefore, the coexistence between both communities has never affected the peace and tranquility of the island; people have learned to get along with each other for centuries.