"The martyrs purchased paradise with their blood, the ascetics with their ascetic life, and we, brethren, who have children with what are we to purchase paradise? With hospitality."
The missionary activities of the Apostles brought the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to people throughout the world. Many dedicated people have carried on their sacred work, but few have been given the title "Equal to the Apostles." One of these individuals is known to us in the person of St. Kosmas the Aitolian.

Born in the early eighteenth century, St. Kosmas lived during the time of the Ottoman occupation of Greece. More than two hundred years had elapsed since that Christian Orthodox nation had been taken captive and it would be another one hundred years before this nation would begin its fight for independence.

Kosmas received his theological education on Mt. Athos. When he completed his studies, he was ordained deacon and priest at one of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain. Disturbed by the sufferings the people endured under Ottoman occupation, Kosmas left Mt. Athos and vowed to serve Christ by preaching the Christian Orthodox Faith. He realized that for our Faith to be perpetuated under such difficult times, schools had to be established throughout Greece. For almost thirty years, he traveled throughout Greece encouraging the people to establish schools. Kosmas knew that a good education would lead to the growth of the Church and the rejuvenation of the Hellenic ideals. The success of his ministry was evident when schools began showing up all over Greece. The missionary work St. Kosmas offered to his homeland reached every corner of the land as he ignited a burning desire for people to live the Christian Orthodox Faith. As his popularity grew, people began realizing that Kosmas was not only a priest but a prophet, scholar, patriot, and miracle-worker. Wherever he went, he preached to the people and then planted a cross to remind them that he was praying for them. Throughout the countryside, these crosses also served as reminders to passersby that somebody cared about them and that God had not forsaken them. It was only a matter of time when the Ottoman oppressors would find out about Kosmas’ efforts and bring them to a halt. At the age of 65 he was arrested and executed by hanging for conspiring against the Ottoman Empire.

During his lifetime, Kosmas was recognized for his saintly character and demeanor. The success of his missionary work enabled him to establish over 200 schools, charitable institutions, and small churches in rural areas where itinerant priests could conduct the sacred liturgies. Although acknowledged as a saint of our Church by the people he served, it was not until April 21, 1961 that the late Patriarch Athenagoras presided over ceremonies that officially put his name on the calendar of saints.

The efforts of St. Kosmas are worthy of our emulation. He loved two things: God and the people of God! As a priest of the Church, he faithfully devoted all his energy to live according to the will of God and to bring people to a greater understanding and appreciation of our precious Christian Orthodox Faith. From the many teachings of St. Kosmas, we learn that: "God has many names, but His principal name is love!" Christian Orthodox Stewardship is our invitation and response to do all things in love.

 

To learn more about the stewardship of the saints, click here.