The Transgressions of Gerasimos Avlonites

Ted A. Campbell, Perkins School of Theology


Gerasimos Avlonites (fl. 1752-1773; often referred to as “Erasmus of Arcadia”) was an Orthodox Christian leader of Crete who traveled in northern Europe and Britain in the mid-eighteenth century. He performed ordinations of Protestant clergy, though he did so in Greek following Orthodox customs. Based on documentary evidence that has come to light in recent years in British and European collections, this essay paints a complex picture of a native of Corfu and a subject of the Latin and Catholic Republic of Venice, exiled from his ecclesiastical see in Ottoman-dominated Crete, who brought his own pietistic sense of Christian unity to his interactions with European Protestants who were also evolving a pietistic sense of Christian identity in the mid-eighteenth century. I raise the question of whether, in addition to being expelled from Crete by Ottoman rulers, Gerasimos may also have committed some specific infraction of discipline that forced him to leave Greece. The essay points to a conjunction of conflicting cultures to show how Gerasimos transgressed conventional cultural, political, and ecclesiastical boundaries.