August 24, 2012

St. Kosmas Aitolos and the Education of the Greeks

By John Sanidopoulos

One of the primary missions of St. Kosmas Aitolos (+ 1779) was to establish schools wherever he preached to prevent as well as reverse the Turkification of the Greek people and its future generations. His primary territory was in the regions of Epirus, Macedonia and Albania. At the time the majority of the Greek people were illiterate due to lack of schools, and education was seen as an essential tool in recovering their identity, remembering their history, and continuing their traditions. This eventually would help lead to the Greek Revolution of 1821.

St. Kosmas would say: "Open schools. You also, my brethren, be educated and learn letters, as much as you can. And if the fathers don't learn, then let the children be educated to learn Greek, because our Church is Greek. And if you do not learn Greek, my brother, you cannot learn what our Church confesses. It is better for you to have a Greek school in your land rather than springs and rivers, and as much as your child learns letters, then he is called a person."

Due to the efforts of St. Kosmas 210 Greek schools were established, and another 1,100 elementary schools operated so Greek children could learn to read and write. He did this while living in total poverty, having no home, no money, no clothes except for what he wore, and no bag to carry any belongings.

This was only one of the many contributions of St. Kosmas Aitolos to the Greek people, which ended with the sacrifice of his own life.