"I CONFESS ONE BAPTISM…"
THE PRINCIPAL FIGURES
2. Constantine Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi (1780-1857)
Greece’s most notable cleric and theologian of the nineteenth century, C. Oikonomos, was occupied with the work of education. Initially he taught in Smyrna (1809-1819), at the same time preaching and contending against the propaganda of the non-Orthodox missionaries. He was made a Great Oikonomos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Preacher General of the Great Church of Christ by the Hieromartyr Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V (d. 1821). After the outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821, he fled to Odessa in Russia where there was a significant Greek community. The Czars on several occasions honored him with decorations and monetary rewards, and finally with a life pension (7000 rubles annually). The Academy of Berlin proclaimed him a corresponding member thereof, and he became known in Europe for his many and important writings.
In October 1834 he returned to the newly established Greek State, and in 1837 he settled permanently in Athens where, until his death, he was active as a scholar, author, private teacher, and ecclesiastical orator. His home became a center for the more important educated men of the time, and he taught a multitude of spiritual children who eventually held important positions in Greek society and the Church. He strove against the Western missionaries and their activities against the Church, and likewise against anti-Church activities of the Greek State.
C. Oikonomos was the principal opponent of the coup d’ état autocephaly of the Church of Greece (the work of the Bavarians in 1833), which, by the forceful severing of the Church of Greece from the Ecumenical Patriarchate which at that time was also the Ethnarchic Center of the Orthodox countries in the Balkans, signaled the beginning of the Western Powers’ dissolution of the ‘’Romaic Ethnarchy.’’ Oikonomos was in favor, however, of the canonical proclamation of Greek autocephaly (something achieved in 1850 through his involvement), so that the spiritual ties of the Orthodox peoples of the Ottoman Empire with their Spiritual and Ethnarchic Center be preserved. He maintained relationships and correspondence with the more important figures of his time, in Greece and abroad, and he was the friend of many non-Orthodox scholars, such as the German C. Tischendorf.
He died on 8 March 1857, leaving behind a great wealth of writings, both theological and philological, besides massive correspondence. C. Oikonomos was a researcher of and prime expert on the patristic tradition which he vigorously defended in his writings and in his struggles, according to the challenges of his time, focusing on canonical order and on his rebuttals provoked by the Western ecclesiastical and political propaganda. One target of his rebuttal was the likewise great Greek theologian and scholar cleric Theocletos Pharmakides (1784-1860), who in free Greece represented the Western spirit (in that he had Protestant leanings and was a supporter of British policy).
Papaderos, Alexandros. Metakenosis: Griechenlands kulturelle Herausforderung durch die Aufklärung in der Sicht des Korais und des Oikonomos. Meisenheim am Glan: 1970 (also for older bibliography).
Patsavos, Lewis J. ’’Konstantinos Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi.’’ In Post-Byzantine Ecclesiastical Personalities, edited by Nomikos Michael Vaporis, 69-85. Brookline, MA: 1978.
Protopresbyter George D. Metallinos. Ελλαδικού Αυτοκεφάλου Παραλειπόμενα (Overlooked Aspects of the Greek Autocephaly), 2nd ed. Athens: 1989, (p. 123ff).
Article published in English on: 14-9-2007.
Last Update: 15-9-2007.