Marko Apostolidis, or Marko Pasha as he is better known, was remembered in Istanbul yesterday on the 128th anniversary of his death. As chief physician of the Ottoman sultan, the Greek pasha is best known as one of the founders of the Turkish Red Crescent, and there is a popular Turkish saying referring to him.
A commemoration ceremony for the pasha by his grave in the Kuzguncuk Greek Orthodox cemetery on Istanbul's Asian side was attended by Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, senior officials of the Red Crescent and students at a Turkish-Greek school. Although the exact date of his death is not known, the pasha was remembered as part of Orthodox "Name Day," in which people bearing the name of saints are remembered on a designated day.
Marko Pasha was immortalized in the Turkish proverb "Go tell it to Marko Pasha" based on his legendary welcome to anyone airing his or her frustration with authorities, even when he failed to find a solution. For Istanbul's small Greek community, he is a source of pride. Patriarch Bartholomew said the pasha left an indelible mark on society by his role in establishing the Red Crescent. "As long as the Red Crescent survives, his name will live on," he said, adding that present-day activities of the Red Crescent to reach out to victims of disasters, both in Turkey and abroad, made their gratitude to Marko Pasha more valuable.