November 6, 2018

Saint Agapios the Presbyter (+ 1815)

St. Agapios the Presbyter (Feast Day - November 6)

Known in the world as Asimakis Leonardos, but more popularly known as Agapios the Presbyter, he was a prominent scholar and ecclesiastical writer. He was born in Dimitsana in 1740 and reposed in Argos in 1815.

The young Asimakis was first educated in his homeland, probably at the School of Philosophou, which was near Dimitsana, and later went to Tripoli, where he had as a teacher Parthenios. In 1759, at the age of 19, he departed for Constantinople, and would stop at Mount Athos on the way, where Eugenios Voulgaris was teaching. However, he ended up in Smyrna, where he studied at the Evangelical School from 1759 to 1764. He was also tonsured a monk and took the name Agapios.

The School and Library of Dimitsana was founded in 1764 by Agapios Leonardos and Gerasimos Gounos, both monks. Having been educated in Smyrna, they based their curriculum on this school. It was officially recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on May 2, 1769. It first functioned until 1770, having gathered 300 students, when a great persecution broke out in the Peloponnese due to the Orlov revolt. Among the cities destroyed at that time was Dimitsana. Therefore the school closed and Agapios went to Zakynthos, while Gerasimos went to Smyrna.

From Zakynthos, Agapios went to Parga, where he taught. In 1780, when peace came to the Peloponnese, he returned to Dimitsana and reopened his school, resuming his teaching duties. The next year he was invited to Smyrna to take up the direction of the Evangelical School. However he did not remain in this position for longer than two years.

Between 1783 and 1786 he visited the Holy Land and Sinai, and since then he was called Hatzi-Agapios. Since then missionary work became the chief purpose of his life. In Constantinople he was ordained a priest and became a preacher of the Great Church. Thus he went to Thessaly, Macedonia, Thrace, Mount Athos, Asia Minor, Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, Epirus, the Peloponnese and the islands. While preaching in these places, he built schools and he raised money for his school in Dimitsana, which was restored in 1795 and governed by Agapios the Younger.

He also worked with Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite to compile and publish The Pedalion (or The Rudder), a famous Greek Orthodox collection of canon law. It was printed in Leipzig in 1800 by permission of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He was also the author of various prayers.

In 1812 he returned to the Peloponnese, where he reposed in peace on February 14th in the year 1815 in Argos, where he had also established a school. Saint Agapios was responsible for the education of many future leaders of the Church and the Greek Nation, including Patriarch Gregory V.