Cosmas of Aetolia

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St. Kosmas Aitolos (1714-1779)
The holy, glorious and right-victorious New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Kosmas Aitolos (also known as Cosmas Aitolos, and St Cosmas the Aetolian) was born in 1714 in Mega Dendron, Aitolia, Greece, to a father who was a weaver and a devout mother.

He attended public schools, but was tutored by an archdeacon. He taught and then attended a school on Mt. Athos. He became a monk and later a priest at Philotheou Monastery where he remained for two years. After a time, he felt a calling to do missionary work in Greece, especially in the remote areas where there was a lack of churches and priests for the many unbaptized adults. As an aftermath of four centuries of Turkish oppression in Greece, Kosmas received the patriarchal blessing in 1759 to travel wherever needed, for however long, with complete independence, to breathe life back into Christianity in Greece.

Kosmas travelled in Greece, its islands, and Albania for 25 years, founding over 200 schools, as well as charities and rural churches. He travelled by foot, by donkey and by ship. When he came to a village he would ask the villagers to plant a large wooden cross in the village square. Then he would mount a bench next to the cross and preach to the villagers about the love of God and the Orthodox faith. The Muslims tried him on charges of conspiracy and sentenced him to hang in August 1779 in Albania. However, one account reports that he prayed and gave up his spirit before this could occur. St. Kosmas received from God the gift of prophecy, and was known to have prophesied of the telephone, airplanes, and aerial bombings. Patriarch Athenagoras glorified him in 1961. His feast day is celebrated on August 24.

St Kosmas Aitolos expressed the missionary zeal of the Orthodox Church when he said: “If it were possible for me to ascend to the sky and cry with a loud voice and preach to the whole world and say that our Christ is the Son and Logos of God and true God of true God, and the life of all, I would do so. But inasmuch as I cannot do that great thing, I do this small one, and walk from place to place and teach my brethren according to my power.”


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