St. Kosmas of Aitolia

St. Kosmas of Aitolia

I truly came to know Father Kosmas or Kosmas Aitolos, the "Apostle of the Poor," while preparing materials for my course in the History of Modern Hellenism (the period of Ottoman domination) which I have taught at Hellenic College for the past decade. I was overjoyed to discover an amazing and extraordinary personality in a period of history not known for its outstanding individuals.

The discovery was confirmed in part by the positive response of my students to many passages that were quoted in the course of my lectures from the Teaching of Kosmas' extant sermons.

I therefore proceeded to prepare an English translation of Father Kosmas, also known among Orthodox Christians as "Equal to the Apostles."

The decision to publish my efforts was further encouraged by the favorable response to the publication of Kosmas' First Didache (teaching) in a recent number of The Greek Orthodox Theological Review.

The credit for introducing Father Kosmas to English-speaking readers, however, belongs to Dr. Constantine Cavamos, who published a slim volume entitled St. Cosmas
In it Dr. Cavamos presented a translation of the life of Kosmas, written by Sappheiros Christodoulides, Kosmas' disciple and first biographer, a small number of
excerpts from his Teaching, together with an introduction.

The Teaching of St. Kosmas, who was considered a saint even by his contemporaries, deserved, I felt, to be treated more fully, for as the reader will come to recognize, he has much to say even with the passage of nearly two hundred years.

Although Kosmas' writings have often been printed in their entirety in Greek (the bibliography on Kosmas now numbers well over six hundred items), no one has produced a complete critical edition of his work. For this reason there can be no definitive study or translation of Kosmas until this is done. Moreover, I have a grave suspicion that Kosmas may have been "embellished" since he personally did not write anything except for some letters.

For my translation I have used the Greek text that was printed as an appendix in the excellent study of Markos A. Gkiolas, Ho Kosmas Aitolos kai he Epoche tou (Athens, 1972), who relies on Sophronios Papakyriakos, Kosma tou Aitolou, hieromartyros kai isapostolou, didachai, epistolai kai martytion (Athens, 1953) and Augoustinos N. Kantiotes, Kosmas ho Aitolos, didachai, vios kai akolouthia (3rd ed., Athens, 1966), both of whom I consulted.

Except for some 122 one or two-line "Prophecies and Sayings" attributed to Kosmas (of these I present only a select few), I have fully translated Kosmas' extant writings. The only other exceptions are four omissions indicated by a line of spaced periods on pages 50, 74, 93, and 128, three of which repeat the same story.

In these omitted passages, Father Kosmas is quoted as having made some rather uncharitable remarks and characterizations of Jews. If I were producing a scholarly text from a critical edition, I would have felt duty bound to include those portions as well. But since my effort is aimed at the general reader and, hopefully, for the young people of our Church, with the idea of provoking discussion on the many social and religious themes Kosmas presents and deals with, I felt it would be unedifying and rather destructive to include these brief anti-Jewish passages. The latter would greatly detract from the otherwise very positive and enlightening ideas Kosmas has to offer and would probably lead the discussion into areas that are totally unproductive.

It gives me great pleasure to thank a number of people to whom I am greatly indebted and who have made my task much easier: His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos for his continued moral and financial support; my colleague, Dr. Costas Proussis, who read most of the translation, for his helpful suggestions and assistance in clarifying numerous obscure passages (needless to say, any errors still to be found are mine alone); Mrs. Vasiha Laskaris for graciously preparing the drawings in the present volume, based on the various ways in which iconographers have depicted St. Kosmas; Nk. Constantine Youssis for the Icon of his fellow Epirotes on the cover; Mr. Constantine Vaporis for carefully preparing the manuscript for the printers; and Mrs. Sophia Caparisos for reviewing the entire volume with great care and affection and for making numerous stylistic suggestions. To all the above I owe more than I can repay. N.M.V. , Easter 1977, Brookline, Massachusetts


Taken from: Father Kosmas The Apostle of the Poor by Nomikos M. Vaporis. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Massachusetts. Copyright 1977 Nomikos Michael Vaporis. All rights reserved.

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