The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church
Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado
On the 24th of August, the holy Church commemorates
the New Hieromartyr KOSMAS of Aitolia, Equal-of-the-apostles.
Kosmas (Cosmas), the sacred hieromartyr and isapostolos (equal-to-the-apostles), (19) the true man of God, both teacher and preacher of the divine Gospel, was born in 1714. He hailed from the tiny Aitolian Village of Mega Dendron (Megadendro). Konstas, as he was first called, was the son of pious parents, who nurtured him, in accordance with the words of the apostle, “in the instruction and admonition of the Lord [Eph. 6:4].” His father, a weaver, originated from Epiros. He was compelled, however, to take his wife and migrate to Aitolia on account of the persecution of the Turks. He went first to the village of Taxiarchi, where their son Chrysanthos was born. Later, the family went to Mega Dendron, where Konstas (that is, Father Kosmas) was born and raised. When Konstas was eight years old, since there was no school in his village, he was sent to Sigditsa of Parnassus. He, therefore, received his primary education some seventy to eighty kilometers from home, where he studied under Litsika. He graduated and taught in his native village for two years. He, also, attended the school at Vraniana, which is near Agrapha. In 1734, at the mature age of twenty, he wished to further his education under a more systematic method. He entered the school at Lobotina (Lompotina), the ruins of which building still stand to this day, where he not only studied for two years under Hierodeacon Ananias Dervisianos but worked as an assistant teacher. His belief was that all children should receive an education free of charge. He was popular with the students. He was of the opinion that a teacher should also teach the poor and not only tutor in the courts of the rich. He went about the surrounding villages, encouraging the parents to send their children to school. He also taught in the village school of Gouva, in the area of Vraniana, which his brother directed. Father Kosmas studied Greek, theology, and some medicine.
Later, though not part of this biography, a learned man, Evgenios Yannoulis (20), wrote an epistle that succinctly describes the period of Father Kosmas. “Education and writing had practically vanished during that era. The inhabitants grew wild, uncivilized, and without an alphabet. A priest was scarcely to be found to baptize or bury the Orthodox. It was rare to have a priest in those remote villages. Due to the hardships, difficulties, and miseries of that period, many Orthodox Christians of Epiros and Macedonia succumbed to Islamization. They felt it was an option, albeit a desperate one, that shielded them from crushing taxation. But the most important cause for so many conversions was to rescue their daughters from being taking to the lascivious harems of the Turks. (21) Another reason for their espousal of Islam was to prevent the seizure of their sons to be raised as Janissaries for the Ottomans. During this critical period, there appeared Hieromonk Kosmas of Aitolos. No human remedy was as more helpful to the Greek race at that time than he. He edified and encouraged his enslaved brothers and sisters under Ottoman bondage. In order to hinder the increasing conversions to Islam, he set up the rock of Orthodoxy and the Greek language, so they could read the Scriptures and the holy fathers.” He believed that education would help resurrect the Greek people for the pothoumeno, that is, the “desired” event. This was his watchword which meant in the mind of the Greeks, the “desired” time of their liberation. (22) Kosmas was convinced that a free people needed to know how to read and write. Father Kosmas was not always welcomed everywhere he went. Those who laid heavy taxes on the people and ruled unjustly, as in Larisa, Kerkyra, Arta, and Ioannina, thwarted his efforts to get a permit. Undaunted, Father Kosmas met with the people outside of these cities. (23)
Education and Tonsure
But let us return to the earlier part of his biography. Konstas, after studying Greek, theology, and medicine, heard of the fame of the newly established and flourishing school of Vatopedi, situated on the Holy Mountain of Athos. (24) In the year 1749, with a considerable number of his fellow countrymen and students, he enrolled as a pupil. He took lessons under the direction of the teacher Panayiotes Palamas. He also studied Logic with a Metsovon instructor, Nicholas Tzartzoulios, who was headmaster of the Athonias Academy after the most wise Evgenios Voulgaris. (25) Students came not only from Athos and the Ottoman Empire but also from Italy and Russia. Among the subjects taught by Voulgaris, there were lectures on Homer, Herodotos, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle among the ancients, and the French, the Germans, and the English among the moderns. Panagiotes Palamas taught grammar. As it happened in Ioannina, Voulgaris’ teaching soon attracted opposition. He was not disrespectful of Athonite traditions. He, indeed, rather admired hesychastic theology. He was also a recipient of a healing from a serious illness from the Virgin of the Akathist in 1758. Opposition first came from the monastics, most of whom regarded the teaching at the academy as novel, dangerous, and incompatible with their own monastic traditions. Opposition also came from his students, the followers of Panagiotes Palamas, who took exception to Voulgaris’ philosophical teaching. Trouble began brewing as early as 1756. When Voulgaris appealed to his patron, Patriarch Kyril, the patriarch found himself unseated and retired to Athos. Kyril now became Voulgaris’ most vigorous opponent. The monks saw the new syllabus as an attack on Orthodoxy, the very Faith they were pledged to defend lo the death. Since Voulgaris was so unpopular, he had no alternative but to resign. He left in I759. For all practical purposes, this was the end of the academy. A successor was appointed, Nicholas Zerzoulis, a Newtonian philosopher from Metsovon. His teaching was not much more acceptable than that of Voulgaris. Following the deposition of his patron, Seraphim II, Zerzoulis returned to Metsovon. The remaining students followed Voulgaris to Constantinople. The Athonite Academy was then closed. (26)
During this period of learning, Konstas was still a layman. Although he was in the form and dress of a layman, still he gave the impression of being clad with the modesty of the monastic Schema. He struggled to perfect himself in the virtues. The school had the misfortune, nevertheless, to become deserted after a conflict that resulted in the departure of Voulgaris. Before all the teachers had departed, the goodly and virtuous Konstas repaired to the sacred Athonite Monastery of Philotheou. He was first tonsured a monk, receiving the name Kosmas. He eagerly submitted himself to ascetic struggles and the heavy toils associated with the monastic conduct of life. At length, the monastery came to be in need of a priest to serve daily. Father Kosmas obeyed the persistent prompting and appeals of the fathers: he was ordained a priestmonk. From the outset, even as a layman, the blessed Kosmas, had a profound desire to benefit fellow Christians with that knowledge which he was taught and learned well. For, ofttimes, he was wont to say that “our brethren, the Christians, have a great need of the word of God.” He said that those who studied and were educated bore a heavy duty to share their knowledge. He reproved those who hastened to the great houses of the powerful and monied, to the courts of the grandees, in order to gain wealth and honors. Such use prostituted their learning. He urged trained teachers to edify with Christian truth the simple people and common folk, who were existing under appalling ignorance, stupidity, barbarism, and foolishness through want of education and instruction. He encouraged teachers to make use of the talent given them that they might attain to the promised heavenly reward and unfading glory.
Although the venerable Kosmas within his hallowed heart had such a deep longing and burning zeal to benefit the many, yet he also reckoned how great and difficult is the labor of apostolic preaching. While Kosmas was a humble-minded and modest man, who neither exaggerated nor depreciated his knowledge, he still did not dare to presume upon such a heavy labor as apostolic preaching without having the approval or consent of the divine will. Wishing to test whether or not such an endeavor was in accordance with God’s will, he opened the sacred Scriptures. Lo, the wonder! He found before him the word of the apostle from this passage: “Let no one seek that of his own, but each one that of the other [1 Cor. 10:24].” In other words, let no one seek only his own benefit and profit but also that of his brother. Having been thus enlightened, he revealed his intention to other spiritual fathers. He received the assent of the fathers and then departed for Constantinople.
This yearning to leave the monastery and preach was a gradual process. He could no longer bear to remain in that peaceful and tranquil environment, praying for his soul while the Orthodox brethren were enduring slavery and being brutalized. “Our race is becoming wild and ferocious, like beasts, on account of the sins that are being committed.” He, therefore, left the Holy Mountain in order to teach and sacrifice himself for them. The year was 1860. He was then a mature man of about forty-five. He planned to meet his brother, then the teacher Chrysanthos. (27) The elder brother helped the blessed Kosmas with a synopsis of the art of rhetoric, so that Father Kosmas might discourse with a certain methodology. Father Kosmas, while in the capital, also revealed his thoughts and aims to the most reverend hierarchs and teachers who were present. He found them all in concord with his purpose, for which they incited him to undertake such a divine work. Father Kosmas, thereupon, received a document, granting him permission to proceed. The patriarch at that time was Seraphim of Delvinos (28), formerly of Epiros.
The Preaching Tours of Saint Kosmas
Hence, the man of God, the sacred witness of Christ, Kosmas, commenced proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom of the heavens. He started in the churches and villages around Constantinople. He then traveled to western Greece, to Aitoloakarnania, to Nafpaktos and Mesolonghi, and to Vrachori of Aitolia, and other places. Having made this first missionary journey, he returned to Constantinople where he took counsel with the then patriarch, Sophronios. (29) Father Kosmas renewed his permit and received the patriarch‘s blessing. He then went forth again, preaching the Gospel message with heightened fervor and zeal. This time, his missionary tour took him to the “Doukanesa,” which is likely the islands of the Dodekanese (30) or the Cyclades (31) where his brother was teaching. How did Father Kosmas exhort those Christians? He advised them to repent and to “produce fruits worthy of repentance [Mt. 3:8; Lk. 3:8].” Following this tour, he visited the Holy Mountain. The year was then 1775. He visited all the monasteries and sketes of the peninsula, expounding upon divine matters to the fathers. He also spent a little time reading the holy books.
Nevertheless, he was not able to abide any longer the love, that is, the burning ardor in the recesses of his heart to benefit the suffering Christian brethren — as he himself often admitted to the Athonite fathers. So he took his leave from the Holy Mountain of Athos. Leaving no stone unturned, he was moved to begin with the very villages outside the Holy Mountain. Hieromonk Kosmas went his way, proclaiming the holy Gospel, to Thessalonike, Veria, and to nearly all of Macedonia. (32) Next, he turned his attention toward Chimaros (Heimarras). (33) Leaving Macedonia, he made for Akarnania (34), Aitolia (35), and further west to Arta (36) and Preveza (37). From Preveza, our Kosmas sailed to Hagia Mavra (38) and Kephalonia of the Ionian Islands (39). Wheresocver he traversed, a large multitude of Christians gathered together. They listened and hearkened to his grace-filled and sweet speech that led them to compunction and piety. Consequently, their souls were tremendously benefitted and moral rectification was manifested in their manner of life thereafter.
“His teaching, even as we have heard with our own ears,” remarks the biographer, “was the simplest, even as the fishermen of old.” (40) His speech and demeanor were calm, quiet, and appeared full of the grace of the gladsome and divinely sweet Holy Spirit. In Kephalonia, especially, this sacred teacher cultivated a great harvest of benefits for those souls enriched by the seed of godly teaching. But God, Who governs and dispenses all, wrought from on high signs and miracles that certified the words of the holy hieromartyr and equal-to-the-apostles Kosmas. The Lord energized miracles even as He of old confirmed the preaching of His apostles.
We now make a record herein of a miracle performed on this island in which there lived an impoverished tailor. His right hand for many years was motionless and wasted. He, therefore, resorted to the man of God, beseeching him to cure him. The saint exhorted him to hasten with piety to his teaching, and then God would take pity upon him. The poor tailor hearkened to this advice. He came and listened attentively and devoutly to the message of the preaching. Behold the wonder! God, indeed, had compassion upon his condition; for the following day he was completely healed.
Again, in another instance, a paralytic heard of the case of the man with the palsied hand. Plucking up courage on account of this extraordinary wonderworking, he pressed others to carry him on his bed. He wished to meet with the saint at the hour of his preaching. Lo, the miracle! He attended and, in but a few days, he made a complete recovery. The former paralytic gave glory to God and thanks to the saint.
Now there was sojourning at the Venetian Castle of Assos (41), in northern Kephalonia, a certain man of noble birth. He contracted a grave disease of the ears. After suffering many years, he was left completely deaf. With reverence and faith, he went to the place where the heavenly man was conversing with the people. Immediately, as he came into that assembly, he was healed, and he continued to hear perfectly.
Now in Kephalonia there is a village, named Kourounos, where Father Kosmas was passing through during the summer season. He wished to quench his thirst, so he asked for some water from a nearby well. The local inhabitants, said, “It is not easy, father, for it is a dry well and there is not a drop of water.” But, in order to demonstrate their obedience, they drew from the bottom of the well a pail full of mud. Straightway they brought it to the sanctified man. He put it to his mouth and sipped a little of the moisture. Then suddenly, in a mysterious manner, the well gushed forth abundantly with clear and fresh water. Verily, henceforth, water was not only plentiful throughout the year but also salutary in that it healed infirmities.
By reason of the multitude of people that came to hear our venerable priest-monk, no church in those parts could possibly contain them all. Consequently, out of necessity, he addressed them out of doors and in the plains. It was his custom that when he was to address a crowd in the open air, he would first ask that the people construct a wooden cross. He wished it set up on the spot where he would speak to them. Now a footstool was also fashioned—which is described by those who had seen it as a kind of seat and podium or stand—with the compliments of Kurt Pasha. (42) Father Kosmas mounted this when he gave them a talk. When he finished expounding on different subjects, the portable stand could be easily disassembled. However, the cross was not dismantled. It abided as a souvenir and reminder of his preaching. It is worthwhile to mention that in those places where the crosses were fixed, God wrought many wonderworkings. In one such instance, in the middle of the marketplace at Argostoli of Kephalonia, one such cross was the site of the abundance of wonderful water that supernaturally sprung forth. As of this writing, this phenomenon continues without the water abating in the least.
From Kephalonia, Father Kosmas sailed to the nearby mountainous island of Zakynthos (Zante), which is only a distance of 8.5 nautical miles. At that time, this third largest of the Ionian isles was under Venetian control. The population was stratified in three classes. Father Kosmas did not make the voyage alone. Ten caiques accompanied him filled with devout Kephalonians. After he taught there for a short time, the blessed man did not achieve much success. He, thereupon, departed and returned to Kephalonia. He then set a course for lush Corfu, that is, Kerkyra, the second largest of the Ionian isles. Although the Turks, from time to time, tried to take this lovely island, the Venetians were still in control. Father Kosmas was received by all the people, and especially by the governor. Since however, a great multitude converged from out of the villages in order to partake of the saint’s teaching, the city notables, fearful of engendering malice and envy among the Venetians and the afﬂuent who were in league with them, besought the saint to depart quickly. Hence, the virtuous and blessed Saint Kosmas, lest he should be the cause of scandals and tumults, departed from Corfu. He crossed over the open gulf of the Ionian Sea, for some two nautical miles, to the mainland, that is, to Albania, to a place known as Hagioi Saranta. (43) It was there that he walked and talked among the Christians, passing through those barbarous provinces. In such places, piety and the Christian way of life were in danger of utter extinction on account of ignorance, stupidity, apathy, lack of culture, and, yes, wilful blindness. The Christians found in those parts were smothered in iniquities on account of the multitude of murders, thefts, and ten thousand other lawless deeds that were committed by them, so that in but a little while they would have become worse in their sins than the infidels.
It was in the crippled, disabled, spoiled, corrupted, and fierce hearts of these Christians that the sacred Kosmas planted the seed of the divine word. He achieved this with divine grace working with him, thus producing many splendid and fair fruits. How did God work in him? The wild were tamed, the thieves were mollified, the pitiless and unmerciful were moved to compassion and almsgiving, and the irreverent were converted to piety. Those who had been unlearned and boorish were educated in divine writings and admonished to attend the sacred services. In general, sinners returned to profound repentance and improvement. All the Christians were wont to say that “in their time a new apostle appeared.”
By means of his teaching, Father Kosmas—as he was affectionately addressed—opened schools in every place which he passed through. This includes both primary and secondary schools. Tuition was free so that the children might attend and learn the sacred letters. In this manner they could be established in the Faith and in piety, and thus might be guided to lead a manner of life that was virtuous. Father Kosmas was able to persuade the rich to purchase over four thousand baptismal fonts fashioned of bronze. They were ordered large so that a proper Baptism, in accordance with the Mysteries of the Orthodox, could be administered with complete immersion. The fonts, dedicated to churches with the donor’s name in the inscription, were also a permanent memorial to their contributors. In like manner, he inclined those with money to buy patristic books and other ecclesiastical titles containing the teachings of the Church. Similarly, large requisitions were made for prayer-ropes, small crosses, head coverings, and pocket combs. With regard to the books, they were distributed without cost to those who knew how to read, as well as to those who desired to learn. The scarves, numbering forty thousand, were furnished to the women to cover their heads. As for the combs, they were supplied to those men who promised to let their beards grow and to live in a virtuous and Christian manner. The prayer-ropes and the small crosses, more than five hundred thousand, were given as gifts to the lay people for the forgiveness of sins of those who commissioned them. (44)
Hieromonk Kosmas did not travel about without help. The man of God had in his company anywhere from forty to fifty priests, who followed him from place to place. Whenever Father Kosmas was about to go to another Village or city, he first sent word to the Christians to prepare. How and in what way? They were to go to confession, to keep a fast, to conduct a vigil with great splendor and illumination. It was a deliberate design of his own that he had specially made candle-stands of wood. Now the reason that they were fabricated from wood was so that they could be taken apart and reassembled. Each stand could hold one hundred candles that were provided free of charge. He directed the priests to read the divine office of Efchelion (Holy Unction), so that the Christians could be anointed. Following this ceremony, Father Kosmas would preach to the crowd. Since many people followed the saint, even as many as two to three thousand souls, he took thought for them and their needs. He issued instructions that the night before the meeting, many sacks filled with loaves of bread and cauldrons of boiled wheat were to be readied. They were then taken out to the road, so that when the people passed by they would have the opportunity to partake of food. This benefitted not only those who consumed these things but also ushered in prayers for the forgiveness of both the living and the dead. Now it is appropriate to mention here that God made miracles through the saintly hieromartyr and equal-to-the-apostles Kosmas, both in Albania and in other places.
There was a certain Turkish officer, instigated by either the Jews, or his coreligionists, or the devil, who felt so much hatred toward the man of God, that he mounted his horse and charged after Father Kosmas to overtake him and treat him ill. As the horse galloped in the saint’s direction, it suddenly reared and threw the rider. The Turkish officer, as a result of the fall, shattered his right foot. He returned to his home to be met by the news of his son’s death. He, therefore, much embittered, repented and wrote a letter to Father Kosmas. He confessed his error and sought the priest-monk’s forgiveness.
The chief aghas of Philiates (45), hearing of the great fame of the saint, were prompted to go themselves and hear his teachings. Since it was summertime, they slept outside on level ground. It was about midnight when they beheld a radiant and heavenly illumination. It was like unto a cloud. It overshadowed the spot where the saint was sitting. They perceived this to be a sign, so they recounted their vision to some Christians. In the morning they sought the saint’s blessing, which he gave from his heart and not only his lips.
Another Turkish functionary from Kavaia (46) was taken ill by a grave illness, since he was unable to urinate. He learned how the saint performed wonderworkings, so he dispatched his manservant to beseech Father Kosmas to pay him a visit. He believed that the priest—monk could act as his go~between with God and heal him. The blessed apostle, nevertheless, did not wish to go and replied, “I am a sinner.” The Turk was not put off by this answer. He sent back his manservant, but this time with a jug full of water. The Turk’s message to the priest-monk was simple, “Kindly bless the water.” The saint, recognizing the deep reverence of the Turk, made two points very clear that the Turk ought to follow. Father Kosmas counseled him to stop drinking raki, a Turkish liqueur, and to share one-tenth of his wealth with the poor. The Turk, upon receiving such prescriptions, promised to fulfill them. The saint then blessed the water. When the ailing Turkish official partook of the blessed water from that jug, he was completely relieved of his malady in four days’ time. Henceforth, he was known to expend large sums on alms among the poor.
Toward Phanari, there is a place called Lykourisi. (47) A Turkish authority saw the cross that was set up by the saint when the latter had taught there. As we mentioned earlier, this was the traveling apostle’s custom. The Turkish official admired the wood from which it was fashioned and, coveting it, pulled up the cross and took it home. His purpose was to make two posts for his bed, which he had out in the country. But behold! The moment he uprooted the cross, it was as if a terrible earthquake occurred. The Turkish official was unable to stand on his feet. He fell to the ground and rolled about for a long while, foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth like one demonized. After some time, two Turks happened to pass by. After they lifted him from the ground, the Turkish official finally came to himself. He acknowledged that
what took place in him was a sign of the wrath of God on account of his thoughtless removal of the cross. Straightway, on his own, he went and fixed the cross in the ground where he found it earlier. In fact, each time that same Turk passed by that spot, he would kiss the cross with deep respect. Later, when Father Kosmas returned to that neighborhood, the same Turkish official hastened to venerate the priest-monk. He also divulged the extraordinary wonder that occurred to him in the presence of all. Moreover, he humbly asked to be forgiven.
The saint reproved those women who wore ornaments and gave studied attention to their dress. In time, he persuaded these ladies, by means of his exhortations and admonitions, to cast off such embellishments and vanities in favor of a modest and prudent appearance. Such was his influence that some voluntarily took to wearing black dresses. However, there was one well-to-do woman from Koritza (48), who would not exercise any discipline. She used to adorn the head of her child with many florins and other supefluous ornaments and decorations. Father Kosmas, ofttimes, advocated her distribution of such things among the poor children—if she wished for her child to thrive. She, however, would not listen to his advice. It came to the point that Father Kosmas gave her one final warning, saying: “Cease adorning the child in this manner, lest thou shouldest soon be deprived of the child.” She stubbornly refused to give heed and conform to his counsel. The following day, she found the child dead in bed. Only then did she recognize that, because of her disobedience, God permitted this punishment upon her house.
Both there and wheresoever the venerable man traversed, he was instructing the Christians not to engage on the Lord’s day (Sunday) in either business or other employments. Instead, they should eagerly direct their feet to the churches, that they might attend the sacred services and hear the sacred words. Despite this important message, many continued to disobey the divine injunction spoken by Father Kosmas. But it was God Who corrected them with diverse chastisements. For instance, in a place known as Halkiades (49), about one hour’s distance from Arta, a certain dealer in small wares dared to disobey that spiritual man. He hawked his goods on the Lord’s day. What happened to him? He suffered a paralysis to his hand, which became palsied with no dexterity or movement. He sought out the righteous elder and begged forgiveness for his iniquity. After a few days, the peddler’s hand was fully restored.
In another instance, at Parga (50), a shopkeeper wanted to sell some goods on the Lord’s day. As a consequence, his hand suffered paralysis. Since he confessed his sin before the Priest-monk Kosmas, he soon beheld the desired recovery of his hand.
In yet another case, a woman of Xeromero (51) was making bread on the Lord’s day. When she removed the pan from the oven, she observed that it appeared red as though it had been kneaded with blood. She made haste to locate Father Kosmas. Finding him, she cast herself before his feet in order to receive forgiveness. Following this frightful episode, she never again toiled on the Lord’s day. Actually, in other places, since the commandment uttered by Father Kosmas prohibiting work on the Lord’s day was not observed with fitting reverence, many other prodigious signs took place. One man’s ox dropped dead, while another lost his mule. Another man became possessed by the devil, whereas another found his child had expired.
In a village of Kastoria, named Selitsa (Seltza) 52, there was a woman who nurtured reverence for the saint. She preserved inside a glass vessel the water with which the saint on one occasion had washed his face. And lo, the marvel! She began to observe that there sprouted forth a plant with just two leaves, which enlarged to the size of the vessel. While the plant kept its color and spread out on the water, it was evident there was no root structure. For an entire year the plant remained dewy fresh. All who gazed upon it marvelled. As for the water, even as the woman affirmed, it proved to be a curative of many illnesses.
These and many other wonderworkings and signs did God energize through this equal-to~the-apostles Kosmas. The comfort and consolation of God’s care and concern for the Greek nation, during that gloomy period of bondage, strengthened and confirmed the Christians in the Orthodox Faith. This optimism and hope also fanned the fires that burned in their hearts for the liberation of their land. It should also be noted that Father Kosmas was frequently heard speaking openly that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself called him to the preaching of the Gospel. Father Kosmas also foretold that in the future he would shed his blood for the love of Christ. This prediction came to pass in the following manner.
The Martyrdom of Saint Kosmas
Not ever did this apostolic teacher open his mouth and speak a word against the Hebrews—neither in Thessalonike, nor Kastoria, nor Ioannina, nor any other city with a large Jewish population. The message of his preaching was for Christians to live like Christians. He exhorted them to cultivate the Christlike virtues according to Christ. He admonished them above all to keep the truth. He also told them to trust the rulers that God gave them. The Albanians, as well, were listening to his teachings given in the open air of the valleys. Though Muslims, yet these Albanians heralded him as a man of God. Accounts of his good reputation and impeccable character were also heard in the ears of Kurt Pasha, who commanded that the priest-monk should be presented to him. Kurt Pasha found the Orthodox priest’s conversation agreeable. He was so pleased that it was he who had that portable pulpit constructed, which we spoke of earlier. He gifted the stand to the man of God, that he might ascend and address the crowds from a height. Furthermore, it was not just of plain wood. The pasha ordered that it be embellished with a heavy velvet fabric.
The Christ-hating race of the Hebrews, even as in times past, when they exhibited every form of malice against the Christians, did so now. They could not bear the proclamation of the Faith and the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now certain Jews of Ioannina spoke in the ear of the pasha, saying, “That priest, Kosmas, has been dispatched by the Moscovites (53) in order to lead astray the imperial rayas (54) to go with Moscow. (55) But divine Providence rescued Father Kosmas from their death-bearing plot. It ushered in, however, a considerable loss of money to the common Christians. Father Kosmas began to hold up to public scorn the Hebrews’ wickedness and their hatred against the Christians that admits no reconciliation. Since he demonstrated that the accusation of the Hebrews against him was a fabrication and a slander, the saint went to Ioannina. His first order of business was to persuade the Christians to transfer the opening of the common bazaar from the Lord’s day to Saturday. This brokered significant financial loss to the Hebrews. Following this, Father Kosmas preached openly that they were evident enemies of the Christians and that they were ready at any moment to be the agents of evil against them.
Father Kosmas also desired for the Christians to leave off the custom of wearing long tassels and other such suspended fittings, which were frippery and fads introduced among them by the Hebrews. He was adamant in his declaration that such accessories were unclean. He said that the God-slayers were defiling them with such accouterments. He, consequently, forbade the Christians from making anymore of such purchases from the Hebrews. The Hebrews, unable to tolerate his interference and censure, went straight to Kurt Pasha. They helped promote their case by giving the pasha a great many gold coins that he might make this priest of the Christians “disappear.” Kurt Pasha, after consulting with his hodja (56), decided on death. It was through the hodja that the dispatch of the Priest Kosmas would be brought about in the following manner.
The holy Hieromartyr Kosmas had the custom that, wheresoever he went to teach, he would first receive permission from the local hierarch or from the prelate’s trustees or those acting as his agents. Concurrently, he sent the Christians to receive permission from the Ottoman authorities of that place. In this manner, he could preach unhindered (and no harm would come to those in the crowd). Now on the occasion when Father Kosmas went to an Albanian village, named Kolikontasi (57), as he was wont, he received permission from the bishop. He also sought permission from the authorities. He then learned that Kurt Pasha had jurisdiction over those parts. The pasha was living in the city of Berat (58), which at that time was twelve hours distant from Kolikontasi. Having been apprised that the hodja of Kurt Pasha was nearby, Father Kosmas sent a man to procure from him a permit to preach. However, Father Kosmas did not abide satisfied. He wished to go himself to the hodja in order to receive more assurance of his consent. The Christians, at that point in time, attempted to prevent Father Kosmas and said to him, “Father Kosmas, thou hast not done so previously: that is, to go to the Hagarene authorities to seek permission to preach.” Nevertheless, they were unable to dissuade him from the task he set for himself.
The venerable and fervent witness of Christ counseled them not to examine the matter any further. Father Kosmas then took with him four monks and one priest as an interpreter. Hence, all together, they went to meet with the hodja. The hodja feigned that he had a written order from the pasha, bidding him to send the priest-monk to him that they might have a talk together. The hodja then made a decisive move. He quickly directed his men not to let Father Kosmas exit his court, that is, until he was to be sent to the pasha. It was at that moment that the blessed teacher of the divine word perceived that they were intending to put him to death. He, thereupon, gave glory and thanks to Jesus Christ. He felt so because the Master vouchsafed him to bring to a close the course of his apostolic preaching with a martyric death. Father Kosmas then turned to the monks who had accompanied him. He recited to them this verse from the psalms: “We went through fire and water, and Thou didst bring us out into refreshment [Ps. 65:12].” Throughout that night, Father Kosmas chanted doxologies to the Lord. He did not exhibit the least sign of sorrow or grief or terror that he was about to be deprived of his life. In fact, his countenance appeared gracious and elegant, as though he were readying to go to a delightful and joyful festival.
When daybreak arrived, seven Hagarene executioners took hold of Father Kosmas and, as they later alleged, mounted the priest-monk on a horse. All the while, they carried on the pretense that they were leading him to Kurt Pasha. When the saint and the squad of executioners were about two hours away, they brought Father Kosmas to a spot where a great river flowed. This was the Osum. They dismounted the man of God and sacred witness of Christ from the horse. It was there and then that they finally divulged the true commission that they received from Kurt Pasha: they were to put him to death. The saint received this sentence with gladness. He went to his knees and began praying to God. He offered up thanksgiving and glorification that, for the sake of his love for Christ, he was accounted worthy to sacrifice his life. It was for this end that his righteous soul yearned. Following this, Father Kosmas then rose up and blessed the four directions, tracing each horizon with the sign of the Cross. Next he made an entreaty for all the Christians who preserved his commandments. The executioners then pushed him near a tree that they might fetter his hands. The saint, nevertheless, prevented this by saying to them, “I have no intention of resisting. I should much prefer to keep my hands crossed as if you had tied them.” They obliged the prisoner this last request. Father Kosmas then leaned his sacred head against the tree. The barbarians took a rope and, instantly, as they tightened it, the hallowed soul of the hieromonk ascended into the heavens. On this manner the thrice-blessed man, the benefactor of the general public and of the common interest of men, as well as the most well-adorned ornament of the cosmos, was counted worthy to receive a double and everlasting crown from the Lord: as an equal to the apostles and as a hieromartyr. Saint Kosmas was sixty-five years of age.
The Relics of Saint Kosmas
The executioners stripped the sacred relic. They dragged the body to the river. They took up one heavy rock which they tied to the neck. The precious relic was then pushed into the running waters. The Christians, learning of these particulars, hastened immediately to draw the holy relics from the river. Try as they might, searching with their nets and other implements and methods, they failed to locate the body. However, after three days, a certain devout priest, named Papa Markos (Mark), the priest of the monastery church dedicated to the Entrance of the Virgin into the Temple, also known as Ardevouses, situated near the village of Kolikontasi, took the initiative to find the body. He entered into a cock-boat. He made the sign of the Cross, and proceeded to navigate the river rapids. Looking hither and thither, not much time passed before—lo, the miraclel—he caught sight of the sacred relic. It was actually floating in the water, but in an upright position, as though Father Kosmas were alive. Papa Markos hastened to the body. In almost no time at all, he overtook the body and embraced the saint. As he pulled him inside the small boat, Papa Markos lifted the body. He noticed a lot of blood flowing from the mellifluous mouth of the saint into the rushing waters. Papa Markos then covered the august relic, wrapping the body in his own cassock. He conveyed the relic to the above mentioned Theotokos Monastery. Papa Markos interred the hieromartryr honorably behind the sacred Bema. After the earthly sojourn of this holy new hieromartyr, the following wonderworkings occurred.
Kurt Pasha fell into deep remorse that he had been not only tricked but also duped for the sake of vain and empty gain into putting to death such a man who was innocent and peaceful. He, therefore, sent a message to his hodja to set free the monks, that is, those who had accompanied the saint. The hodja had been detaining them in prison. Once released, they repaired to the aforementioned Theotokos Monastery and sojourned therein. Upon arriving, they, in fact, did find that the sacred relic had already been buried by Papa Markos. In order to receive a greater impression of what actually took place during Father Kosmas’ martyrdom, the relic was exhumed with the participation of other priests and faithful Christians. The grave was opened and they beheld something wonderful. Being mindful that though the precious relic was discovered after three days inside the river, even as of old when Jonas was in the belly of the sea-monster, still there was not the least trace of any decomposition or stench. Much rather, the relics, even after being removed from that watery sepulcher, were completely fragrant. The sacred martyr appeared to be sleeping. After they kissed him with deep respect, they buried the body in the same place again.
At that moment, there happened to be standing by a certain woman who was demonized. She had been following the saint, when he was alive, from distant places. Straightway, upon the opening of Saint Kosmas’ grave, the demon within her was exceedingly agitated. In but a very short time the woman was utterly delivered and healed, giving glory to God and to the saint.
Now one of the Hagarenes, who had collaborated in the slaying of the saint, had snatched the Priest-monk Kosmas’ cowl. (59) After he took it back to the hodja, he wished to mock the martyr. The manslayer put it upon his head and derided the saint. Immediately that murderous fellow became demonized. He tore off all his clothing and ran around naked, shouting aloud that he had killed the ascetic. The pasha learned of this episode, and issued an order that the man was to be shut up in prison. So it came to pass and he ended his days miserably.
Now after the saint had made his last preaching engagement at the above mentioned village of Kolikontasi, he left there, according to his custom, one cross fixed in the earth. After his repose the Christians noticed that there appeared nightly a heavenly light. Thus, during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross, the priests went with multitudes of Christians and transferred the cross by means of a procession conducted with piety. They bore it aloft to the monastery church. The cross was then installed behind the sacred Bema, close to the tomb of the saint that it might always be a reminder of the miracle.
When the disciples of the saint were freed by the pasha, they undertook the translation of the precious relic of the saint. Some of them also took portions of the relic, which they scattered to diverse locations. It was a result of this dispersion, and by means of those relics, that many sick folk received cures for their infirmities. Two of the disciples of Saint Kosmas went to the island of Naxos. The purpose of their visit was to inform the schoolmaster and teacher of sacred writings, Chrysanthos, the elder brother of Father Kosmas, of the martyric death. These disciples happened to have with them a few of the hairs from the beard of the saint. Now a woman from Neohorion, who succumbed to a grave and death-bearing disease, came with reverence and took hold of those relics. Behold the wonder! She instantly felt a mysterious and extraordinary power. In but a short time she completely recovered her health.
We should also mention that many women, afflicted with barrenness, used to take the soil from the saint’s tomb. With reverence and faith they did this for forty days. They, too, attained their request, that is, they bore live children, by the grace of the Lord and the supplications of Father Kosmas, the hieromartyr and peer of the apostles, through whose intercessions may we be vouchsafed the kingdom of the heavens. Amen. (60)
(19) The account of the martyrdom of New Hieromartyr Kosmas was borrowed from the publication of Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s Neon Martyrologion, 3rd ed. (pp. 201-208) and incorporated with slight editing into The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek). The saint’s biographer, his disciple Sapheiros Christodoulides, concentrated more on his modest spiritual elder’s teachings and miracles rather than biographical details which were scanty. Christodoulides reposed in 1856. He was an Epirote who worked as an instructor at the secondary schools of Ioannina, Berat, and Metsovon. His biography and divine office for Hieromartyr Kosmas were first published at Venice, in 1814.
(20) During the 18th C., Evgenios Yannoulis the Aitolian created a famous school which contributed much to the nation's educational needs.
(21) Due to Father Kosmas, since many Turks also attended his rallies, some 1,500 Greek women who served in the harems were spared. How did this come about? He persuaded their Muslim overlords not to go with Christian women, who were of another religion, and who would certainly inﬂuence any issue following a union.
(22) Saint Kosmas prophecy: “That which is longed for will take place in the third generation. It will be seen by your grandchildren.” This exceedingly important prophecy of Father Kosmas, which engendered the sweetest and longed-for hope within the enslaved Greek people, received awe-inspiring fulfillment. For the years of the liberation of the nation took place in the third generation from the time when the saint made this prophecy.
(23) Extract transcribed from an ERT 1 film, entitled Pater Kosmas Didaskei to Lao [Father Kosmas Teaches the People], by Angelos Kouyioumtze, produced in 1987 by Maria Mavrikos and directed by Angelos Papastephanos. Material was taken from the archives of Panagiotes Christopoulos, working in conjunction with the Athonite Monastery of Philotheou and the Evrytanian Monastery of Prousiotissa. Contributing metropolises to the content of the film include that of Aitolia and Akarnania, Karpenesi, loannina, Dryinoupolis, Pogonianes, Konitses, Grevena, Trikke and Stagon.
(24) By 1748, when Kyril V came to the patriarchal throne, the school of Patmos, which had been a great center of Orthodox education, was in decline. It was the initiative of Vatopedi —then the leading Athonite monastery— and its Prohegumen Meletios that led to the new school’s foundation. Both the patriarch and the holy synod gave their blessing. Imposing buildings were erected at Vatopedi’s expense. The school was intended to become not only a full fledged university but also the principal center for higher education for Orthodox subjects under the sultan. The first director, and author of many religious books, was the Athonite monk, Father Neophytos of Kafsokalyvia (b. ca. 1702-1780). In 1753, the patriarch appointed the eminent scholar Evgenios Voulgaris (1716- 1806). The school was then opened to both the layman and the monk—provided the latter had his elder’s blessing. The charter indicated that a complete course of classical learning was to be provided. See Graham Speake, Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2002), p. 136.
(25) Eugene Voulgaris (1716-1806), born in Corfu, studied in Arta, Ioannina, and Padua. In his lectures he introduced the ideas of Descartes, Leibniz, and Locke into the study of ancient philosophers, which stirred up opposition in conservative circles in Ioannina. He was the leading educator, philosopher, and mathematician, who directed the school after Father Neophytos, the founder. He was a published author on a diversity of subjects. He was a controversial figure. During his six-year tenure at Athos (1753-1759), the school’s enrollment went from 20 to 200. After Athos, he left for Leipzig, Germany, and, later, for Saint Petersburg where he as ordained to the priesthood. Voulgaris later became Archbishop of Cherson. In 1802, he withdrew to Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery and reposed in 1806.
(26) More on this section— “The Athonite Academy and Evgenios Voulgaris”— is found in Speake’s Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise, pp. 136-138. A number of abortive attempts were made to revive the academy. One in particular, made by the former Patriarch Seraphim II in 1769, was rejected by the monks of Vatopedi. In 1782, the school as re-endowed by Patriarch Gabriel IV. Caesarios Dapontes reported that the school was opened and operating in the 1780s. Archives at the Protaton make reference to the school in the 1790s. A major initiative in 1800 from Patriarch Kallinikos V, and others in the diaspora, also came to nothing in 1809. The building was soon engulfed with flames. It still is not known if it burned from natural causes or arson by monks who did not want any secular ideas in their neighborhood. The ruins are clearly visible today from Vatopedi.
(27) We read in the Life of Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite (commemorated by the holy Church on the 14th of July), that as the layman Nicholas, he was a pupil at the school in Naxos of the Cyclades. Nicholas had lessons in both secular and sacred writings. He studied under the virtuous and wise teacher of the nation, and brother of Saint Kosmas, Archimandrite Chrysanthos (d. 1785), who practised what he taught not only in word but in very deed and conduct.
(28) Seraphim II (1757-1761).
(29) Sophronios II (1774-1780).
(30) The archipelago of the Dodekanese (Dodecanese) lies at the northeast edge of the Aegean. Although it consists of some two hundred islands and islets, yet only twenty-seven are inhabited. It is close to the Turkish coast. The better known islands include Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Carpathos, Patmos, Leros, Astypalaia, Nisyros, Telos, Chalki, Symi, Kasos, Leipsoi, and Kastellorizo. After the fall of the city (1453), the Dodekanese Islands were under the Franks, then the Knights of the Order of Saint John, until Rhodes finally fell to the Turks in 1522.
(31) The Cyclades of the Aegean is an archipelago of some fifty-six islands, stretching from the south of Attike and Evia. When Constantinople fell to the Franks in 1204, the Cyclades were ceded to the Venetians. As a consequence of long Roman Catholic rule, some of the islands embraced the papal religion. By the middle of the 16th C. the majority of the islands were under Turkish rule, some being granted special privileges (Naxos, Andros, Tenos). Under the command of Admiral Orlov, Russian ships were anchored for a brief interval (1770-1774). Other well-known islands in this prefecture include Mykonos, Delos, Thera, and Syros.
(32) Veria (Beroea) of the Imathia province and Thessalonike (40°38’16.65”N 22°57’00.l4”E) of the same-named province all belong to the region known as Makedonia (Macedonia) Central of Greece.
(33) Chimaros (41°06’36.01"N 23°15’28.72”E) of the Serres province is also in Makedonia Central.
(34) Akarnania is the name of an ancient country, which belongs to the Aitoloakarnania (Etoloakarnania) prefecture of West Greece. It borders with Epiros, Aitolia, and Amphilochia.
(35) Aitolia (Etolia) is an ancient country, which belongs to the Aitoloakarnania prefecture of West Greece. It borders with Epiros, Thessalia, and Akarnania.
(36) Arta (39°09’38.74”N 20°59’09.57”E), the capital of the Arta prefecture, belongs to the region of Epiros. It is 440 kilometers from Thessalonike.
(37) Preveza (38°57’38.57N 20°45’12.13”E) of the Nikopoli and Parga province, is a port of entrance and the capital of the Preveza prefecture that belongs to Epiros. It is 471 kilometers from Thessalonike.
(38) Hagia Mavra (38°50’00.97”N 20°42’27.03”E) is identified as a city on the Ionian island (in this case, more like a peninsula) of Lefkada that is just off the coast of central Greece. Hagia Mavra is the name of a castle by the port. Lefkada was also under Venetian rule until 1797, when it was captured by the French. In 1815, it was under British control. It was incorporated into the Greek state in 1864.
(39) Saint Kosmas visited the islands of the west coast of Greece, known as the Ionian isles or Heptanese. The archipelago actually is comprised of twelve islands, the six largest and most densely populated include Corfu, Paxoi, Lefkada, Ithaca, Kephalonia, and Zakynthos. Kephalonia is the largest. From 1500 to 1797, it belonged to the Venetians. It then passed into French hands. After the brief interlude of Russo-Turkish occupation, it was then ruled by the French and British. It was incorporated into the Greek state in 1864.
(40) Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17.
(41) Assos is situated on the northwest coast of the island, some 36 kilometers north of Argostoli. The Assos fortress is the larger of the two castles on Kephalonia and is one of the largest in Greece. Its 2,000 meters of walls follow the contours of the terrain and form an irregular rectangle. It is reinforced at five points by bastions, virtually running around the whole circumference of the Assos peninsula. The building of Assos commenced in 1593. Petitions had been made by the islanders to the Venetian Senate for the foundation of a new fortress in 1584, as the castle of Saint George could not defend the whole island. Assos has remained throughout history as a small town confined to the Borgo near its little harbor. Assos became the capital of the northern part of Kephalonia and a building was constructed to serve the needs of the local government. Until 1797, at the end of the Venetian rule in Kephalonia, the castle continued as the seat of a Venetian Proveditore. From 1797 to 1799, the castle came under the rule of the French. After the war a prison farm was set up for political prisoners, which was in use until 1953. Visitors to the castle today can see the remains of the prison yard and cells which are still intact in the center of the fortress. The prison was used again by the Nazis in World War II—as there are no means of escape. There are still some ruins remaining of the army barracks and its nearby church known as “The French Church.” Within the castle walls are the remains of the church to San Marco to the left after entering the castle gates, which was a papal church built in 1604. This was just one of the Roman Catholic churches such as those to San Giovanni and Santa Maria. There also used to be a hospital and another small church—the Mother Mary Spitaliona.
(42) Ahmet Kurt Pasha, for services rendered in 1774, was given by the sultan the territories in central Albania. Kurt Pasha expanded his Pashalik until his death in 1787, incorporating territories of all central Albania, bordering to the north with the Pashalik of Shkodra and to the south with the Pashalik of Ioannina (Janina). The Pashalik of Berat, which he created, was dissolved after Ahmet’s ally, Ibrahim Pasha of Berat, was defeated by Ali Pasha in 1809. Thus, the latter incorporated the Pashalik of Berat with that of Ioannina. Ahmet Kurt Pasha was the grandfather of Ali Pasha.
(43) The present-day port city of Sarande or Saranda, an important tourist attraction of the Albanian Riviera, was known in ancient times as Onchesmos or Anchiasmos. Its current name, from the Greek, meaning “Forty Saints,” was given to honor the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia (commemorated the 10th of March).
(44) Father Kosmas said: “If there is anyone among you who will let his beard grow, let him stand up and say so that I may give him a comb; and I shall also ask all the Christians to forgive him, and we shall be brothers. Whichever woman is willing to make a veil, so that she can cover herself when she goes to church, let her tell me and I shall ask all the Christians to forgive her. And I shall pray to God for her soul, as long as she lives, and for her children. Whichever Christian man (or woman) promises not to speak Albanian in his home, let him stand up and tell me, and I shall take upon myself all of his sins from the time of his birth. And I shall ask all the Christians to forgive him; and he will receive a forgiveness which he could not find even if he were to pay thousands of purses. I beg you, my fellow Christians, to say for me, a sinner, three times: ‘May God forgive him and have mercy upon him!’ Forgive me, too, the sinner, and God may forgive you!” Father Nomikos M. Vaporis, “Seventh Teaching: Be Glad and Rejoice that You are Orthodox,” Father Kosmas, Apostle of the Poor (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1977), p. 118. With regard to the prayer ropes, he said, “Now I advise you all—young and old—to make a prayer rope and to hold it in your left hand, and with your right hand to make the sign of the Cross and say: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Logos of the living God, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and of all the saints have mercy on me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant.'" Ibid., “Third Teaching: The Jesus Prayer,” p. 49.
(45) The small town of Philiates or Filiates (39°36’02.51”N 20°18’31.19”E), of the Filiata province and Thesportia prefecture of Epiros, is northwest of Igoumenitsa.
(46) Kavaia or Kavaja (41°11’08”N 19°33’25”E) of Albania is situated near Dyrrachion which is a major port on the eastern short of the Adriatic.
(47) Lykourisi is northeast of “Holy Forty” or Sarande.
(48) The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek), 5th ed. (Athens, 1977), p. 392, note 2, suggests that Koritza is probably around Korytsas, a city of northern Epiros.
(49) Halkiades or Chalkiades (39°09’30.01”N 20°56’00.40”E) is a small town of the
Philothei municipality of the Arta prefecture that belongs to Epiros.
(50) Parga (39°17’03.14”N 20°23’53.47”E) is a wetland and port of the Nikopoli and Parga province, belonging to the Preveza prefecture of Epiros. It had been a possession of the Normans, who built the fortress in the 14th C. During the period of Venetian rule, it enjoyed privileges and considerable afﬂuence, constituting a bridge between Ottoman-held Greece and Venice. In 1797 it came under French suzerainty. In 1814 it passed to Britain, which then sold it to Ali Pasha. In order to escape this despot, many of the Pargans ﬂed to Corfu (1819).
(51) Xeromero or Xiromero is a province belonging to the Aitoloakarnania prefecture of West Greece.
(52) Selitsa, that is present-day Eratira (40°20’34.00”N 21 °30’49.48 ”E), is a small town north-northeast of Kaloneri of the Askios municipality of the Vio province in the Kozani prefecture that belongs to Makedonia West.
(53) I.e. the Russians.
(54) Raya, a Turkish word for “herd,” is how the Ottomans characterized the enslaved Greeks.
(55) After the Greek Revolution that took place in the Peloponnesos in the year 1770, which was also incited by the Orlov brothers who had the support of Empress Catherine II of Russia, the Turkish rulers began to suspect Father Kosmas of being a Russian agent.
(56) A hodja is a devout Muslim teacher of the Koran, respected for his knowledge, and who may perform a specific duty within that Islamic community.
(57) Kolikontasi is most likely present-day Corovode or Corovoda (40°30’15”N 20°13’38”E). At an altitude of 538 meters (1,768 feet), it is the main city of Skrapar District. The city name Corovoda comes from the Bulgaria (Cherna voda) and means “black water. ” The Corovoda River passes through the city. It is also home to a canyon, know at Pirogosh. Another river that passes through the city is the Osum. It forms canyons and caves, which are the highest and longest in Albania. Corovode is three hours from the capital city of Tirana. Some archaeologists believe that Corovoda may be the oldest city in Albania. Ruins of some churches and a buried castle in Rovica seem to indicate that the city is more ancient than the castle of Berat.
(58) Sixth-century B.C. Berat or Berati (40°42’N 19°57’E) is situated in south-central Albania on the right bank of the river Osum, a short distance from the point where it is joined by the Molisht River. The Osum River has cut a 915-meter deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces. The Ottomans conquered Berat in 1450, after a siege, retaining it until 1912. The empire did not retain direct control throughout that period. In 1809, the tyrannical Ali Pasha, an Albanian himself, seized Berat and refortified it. In 1867, Berat became part of the Janina vilayet. During Ottoman rule, it fell into serious decline. It began to recover a little before Saint Kosmas’ time when it engaged in wood carving. Today it is known for its oil wells. The nearby port city Vlore or Avlona, a caza (administrative district) of the sandjak (subdivision) of Berat, was in the vilayet (province) of Janina.
(59) The actual word is epanokalymmachion or klobuk, which is the veil placed on top of the kamilafka, or skouphos, or it may envelop the cowl (koukoulion).
(60) This concludes the biography from The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek) and the Neon Martyrologion.