Gregory V was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1797 to 1798, from 1806 to 1808 and from 1818 to 1821. He was responsible for much restoration work to the Patriarchal Cathedral of St George, which had been badly damaged by fire in 1738. At the onset of the Greek War of Independence, as Ethnarch of the Greek Millet, Gregory V was blamed by Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II for his inability to suppress the Greek uprising. He was taken out of the Patriarchal Cathedral on Easter Sunday, 1821, directly after celebrating the solemn Easter Liturgy, and hanged (in full Patriarchal vestments) for three days from the main gate of the Patriarchate compound by order of the Sultan, his body was then taken down and delivered to a squad of Jews, who dragged it through the streets and finally threw it into the Bosphorus. . The body was later recovered by Greek sailors and was eventually enshrined in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. He is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church as an Ethnomartyr (Greek: Εθνομάρτυρας).
In his memory, the main gates of the Patriarchate compound were welded shut in 1821 and have remained shut ever since.