August 24, 2015

Kosmas the Aitolos: The Liberator of Greece Without Weapons

By His Eminence Metropolitan Andrew
of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa

Rarely do we think about how much Saint Kosmas the Aitolos contributed to the liberation of the Greek nation. He had no weapons. He led no troops. He was not involved in wars and battles.

But he did have the weapons of the spirit: holiness of life and preaching, by which he awakened the consciousness of the enslaved Greeks, who thus learned about their Orthodox faith and the glorious history of their homeland.

"It is meet and blessed, my fellow Christians, as we learn from the holy Gospel and the sacred Scriptures, to begin our teaching with God. And when we finish to thank God, not because I am worthy to utter the name of my God, but because He has permitted it out of His compassion" (First Teaching).

"I studied about the sacred and about unbelievers, heretics, and atheists. I searched the depths of wisdom, but all the faiths are false. I learned this to be true, that only the faith of the Orthodox Christians is good and is sacred: to believe and to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.... Rejoice that you are Orthodox Christians and weep for the impious and heretics who walk in darkness" (First Teaching).

Moreover, in various parts of enslaved Greece, he would habitually say in his sermons: "This one day will be Roman (Greek) and fortunate whoever lives in this kingdom" (Prophecies).

He made four missionary journeys in almost the entire Greek area, but especially in Epirus and in the area now called Northern Epirus. This was because Northern Epirus was in danger of Islamization, and worry was on the rise. It is known that those who were Islamized would lose their national identity, which constituted a deadly threat to Hellenism. Thus Saint Kosmas, going from village to village, brought the message of Orthodoxy and Hellenism. And except in a few instances, the Greeks remained firm in their beliefs about Religion and the Homeland.

One man, who was ardent and without self-interest, achieved the impossible: the salvation of Orthodox Hellenism, but also prepared for the national rebirth. But the fiery sermons of this Apostle to the Nation, and certain actions of his, such as shifting the bazaars from Sunday to Saturday, led, unsurprisingly, to reactions, especially from the Jews. They handed him over, therefore, to Kurt Pasha of Berat, whom they bribed. The Saint was arrested and condemned to death. Thus on 24 August 1779 he was hanged in Kalikontasi in Northern Epirus. Before breathing his last breath, he prayed, repeating the words of the Prophet David: "We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance" (Psalm 65 (66):12), certainly prophesying about the liberation of the Nation.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.