The Biography, Teachings, and Prophesies of St. Kosmas Aitolos
as presented on the website of St. Kosmas Aitolos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Bolton, Ontario, Canada
The Biography of St. Kosmas
Saint Kosmas the Aitolian, or Patrokosmas, as he is called, is a figure in both church and national history who in the 18th century cast his light upon the path which the Greeks would follow a little before the outbreak of the Struggle for Liberation. He was the son of devout parents who brought him up accordingly, and he came from the village of Mega Dendron in Aitolia.
His aptitude for learning took him to the school run by the Vatopedi Monastery on the Holy Mountain, where he studied under teachers famed for their learning. When the Athonite Academy fell into decay, the young Kostas (his name in the world) went to the Philotheou Monastery. There he was tonsured a monk and given the name of Kosmas and zealously engaged in many ascetic practices. At the request of the fathers of the Monastery, he was ordained a priest.
St. Kosmas had a burning desire to be of service to his brothers in Christ who were suffering so many hardships. The enslavement of many years with the subsequent degradation of life, ignorance, and the decline into barbarity in behaviour were the scourges of the mass of Christians. The reflections of St. Kosmas on this situation led him to go out to the people and begin a series of preaching tours. As his thoughts matured, with the permission of the fathers of the Monastery, around 1760 he left for Constantinople, where he received the blessing of the Patriarch Seraphim II.
St. Kosmas began his preaching from the enslaved Capital itself. He then went to Nafpaktos, Mesolonghi, and other areas, returning to Constantinople in 1774. With the permission of the new Patriarch Sophronius II, the Saint resumed his apostolic task. He returned for a little while to Athos, but his love for the Church’s flock led his steps to Thessaloniki, Veria, and other parts of Macedonia. From there, he moved on to Acarnania and Aitolia, as far as Arta and Preveza.
Because of the large crowds which followed him, the Saint used to preach on open plains, always with the permission of the local bishop and aga (local Turkish official). His words were simple, but filled with the Holy Spirit. It was his custom wherever he was going to preach to tell the people to construct a wooden cross. He would then place a stool which he carried with him against the cross and preach standing upon it. The cross would remain as a reminder of his preaching. The Saint urged the Christians to build schools so that their children could learn about the Faith and be well-grounded in Christian piety. He would speak to them about the services of the Church, explain to them the value of repentance and confession, warning them against sin and urging them to lead lives of goodness.
As with the Apostles, St. Kosmas’ preaching was often confirmed by miraculous signs. The Saint was admired and even feared by many Turks, and hated by many Jews. They spread unfounded accusations against him and slandered him to Kurt Pasha, to whom they offered money if he would put St. Kosmas to death. Kurt Pasha conspired with the hodja of the village of Kolikontasi in Albania that a trap would be set for St. Kosmas. On the pretext that the Pasha wished to see him, they took the Saint to a remote spot and hung him on August 24th, 1779. His murderers stripped the sanctified body of the Saint, tied a stone to it, and threw it into the river. The local Christians looked for his corpse, but could not find it. In a miraculous manner it rose to the surface and was pulled out by Papa Markos, the priest of the All-Holy Theotokos of the Presentation Monastery, which is near Kolikontasi, and buried it at the back of the sanctuary. Many other miracles followed the martyr’s death of the Saint, and he was quickly established in the mind of the people not only as a martyr but as a true apostle.
The Teachings of St. Kosmas
THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD
There is no place from where God is absent. We pious Christians should consider that God is in our hearts when we wish to commit some sin, that He is present everywhere, and that He sees us. We should be ashamed before the angels, the saints, and especially before the angel who guards our soul and observes us. We are embarrassed before a young child when we commit a sin, so how can we not be embarrassed before so many saints and angels?
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
It is natural for us to love our brethren because we are of one nature, we have one baptism, one faith, we receive the same Holy Sacraments, and we hope to enjoy paradise. He who has been found worthy and has received these two loves in his heart, love of God and love for his brethren, is fortunate indeed. Because whoever has God in his heart possesses all that is good and can't bear to commit sin. And whoever doesn't have God in his heart has the devil and always commits evil and every kind of sin. Even if we perform thousands upon thousands of good works, my brethren: fasts, prayers, almsgiving; even if we shed our blood for our Christ and we don't have these two loves, but on the contrary have hatred and malice toward our brethren, all the good we have done is of the devil and we go to hell. But, you say, we go to hell despite all the good we do because of that little hatred? Yes, my brethren, because that hatred is the devil's poison, and just as when we put a little yeast in a hundred pounds of flour it has such power that it causes all the dough to rise, so it is with hatred. It transforms all the good we have done into the devil's poison.
THE JESUS PRAYER AND THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
Now I tell you to do this. - Let all of you take a prayer rope. Let it have thirty knots, and pray. Say: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Logos of the living God, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and of all your saints, have mercy upon me, a sinner and an unworthy servant." What does one see in the "Lord Jesus Christ," my brethren? The Holy Trinity, our God, the incarnate dispensation of our Christ and all of the saints. With the Cross and the "Lord Jesus Christ" they went to paradise. And whoever says this prayer and makes the sign of the Cross, whether man or woman, he blesses the sky, the earth, and the sea. With the sign of the Cross and with the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ" all illnesses are cured. With the Cross and the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ" the Apostles raised the dead and cured every illness. With the Cross and the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ" a person is blessed and goes to paradise to rejoice and be glad as angels.
So you see, my brethren, how much the honorable and holy Cross helps a person. Whoever makes the sign of the Cross never suffers a loss but is protected from every kind of poisonous thing and from every demonic temptation. And a person has the Cross marked on him. Let him unite the three fingers of his right hand and place them first on his forehead, then on his navel, then on his right breast, then on the left breast, and bow low and then rise.
THE MEANING OF THE CROSS
Learn, my Brethren, what is the meaning of the sign of the Cross. When we put our hand on [our] head, it reveals God who is in the sky. When we put it over [our] navel, it reveals that he descended to earth and became incarnate. When we put [our] hand on the right breast, it reveals that he is just and eternal and that he will place the just on his right hand. And when we put it on [our] left side, it reveals that he will judge all the nations and they will stand on his left side and he will put them into hell.
The holy Cross, my brethren, is the wellspring of the whole earth. The holy Cross blesses the entire world, all that is divine and holy in the churches. The Cross blesses the Divine Liturgy and every service. The Cross blesses the saints. The Cross blesses and strengthens baptism. The Cross blesses couples. The Cross chases away demons who flee like lightning. The Cross is a bright weapon, and whoever makes the sign of the Cross is illuminated and is blessed. It is like a double-edged sword to which the demons don't draw near to urge people to commit sin.
Wherever a person sets out to travel, he should first make the sign of the Cross and say the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ." Whether you go to the fair or to the field, or to the vineyard, or when you eat bread or fruit, or drink wine or water, when you go to sleep, worship God. Make the sign of the Cross over your body and then lie down to sleep. You will then sleep and will rise in the morning strong and happy. So, my brethren, you have understood and now know.
The Prophesies of St. Kosmas
1. One day this will become Romaiko (Greek) and fortunate is he who will live in that kingdom. (St. Kosmas would say this in different places in Greece, then under the Turkish yoke, that later on fought and acquired their freedom.)
2. Oh! Blessed mountain, how many souls, women, and children will you save during those difficult years. (This prophecy was said in Siatista (northwestern Greece) and elsewhere where there were mountains. Women and children made them their refuge during the revolution.)
3. Those who will seek refuge up here in these high mountains will be fortunate; they will protect you from many dreadful sufferings. You will hear of but not see the dangers. You will suffer for three hours, or three days (prophesied by the Saint in Siatista).
4. That which is longed for will take place in the third generation. It will be seen by your grandchildren. (This exceedingly important prophecy of the Saint, which nursed the sweetest hope of the enslaved Greek people, received astonishing fulfillment. For the years of the liberation of the Nation are in fact the third generation from the time when the Saint made this prophecy, isasmuch as is known, each generation is reckoned as twenty-five years.)
5. There will come a time when your enemies will even take away from you the ashes from your fire, but do not deny your faith, as others may do.
6. There will come the red caps, and afterwards the English for fifty-four years, and then this region will become Romaiko (Greek). (This was said in the island of Cephalonia regarding the liberation of the Heptanese, also known as the Ionian Islands, which were under Venetian occupation. The French soldiers were called "red caps" because their headgear was red during the years of Napolean. This prophecy found amazing fulfillment. For after the Venetians, the Ionian Islands were taken over by the French, and after their departure there came the English, whose occupation of them lasted for fifty-four years, that is, as many as the Saint had prophesied. The English seized the Heptanese in 1810- except for Corfu, which surrendered in 1815 to Campbell- and in 1864 they gave it up to Greece.)
7. The boundaries of the new nation (Greece after the revolution of 1821) will be the river Asos. (A prophecy by the Saint in Old Arti)
8. If three powers are in agreement, you will not suffer anything.
9. If the matter is solved with a war, you will suffer much destruction. Out of three countries, one will remain.
10. A time will come when you will hear (learn) anything.
11. Give them whatever they ask. Just save your souls.
12. If they find silver in the road, they will not bend down to take it. But for an ear of wheat, they will kill each other trying to take it first.
13. The evil will come to you from the learned. (It was by the intelligentsia that atheistic, materialistic, anti-Christian, soul-corrupting ideas have been introduced into Greece from Western Europe.)
14. It will last for either three days, three months, or three years.
15. A time will come when there will not be the harmony that exists now between the laity and the clergy.
16. The clergy will become the worst and most impious of all.
17. In the City (Constantinople) so much blood will be spilled that a three-year old calf will swim in it.
18. Fortunate is he who will leave after the great war. He will eat with a silver spoon.
19. After the great war, the wolf will live with the lamb.
20. First a false Greek will come. Do not believe him. He will go back.
21. The warships will gather together in Skaloma and the red-vested will come to fight for you.
22. The Turks will leave, but they shall return and will come as far as Hexamilia. In the end, they shall be driven away to Kokkina Milia. Of the Turks, one third will be killed, another third will be baptized, and the remaining third will go to Kokkina Milia. (Kokkina Milia was a region which the imagination of the enslaved Greeks placed in the depths of Asia Minor and beyond. It is there that they hoped to push back their oppressors, i.e., where they originally came from.)
23. So many things will happen that mothers will give birth prematurely out of their fear.
24. No animals will remain. You will also go with them. From Joumerka you will take their breed again.
25. Do not make big houses. Make makeshift shacks so that they do not come in. (A larger house draws more attention, as being a source of loot, booty.)
26. They will try to enforce a huge and unbearable tax, but they will not make it in time.
27. They will put a tax on chickens and on windows.
28. They will seek to take you as soldiers, but they will not do so in time.
29. The Turks will learn the secret three days sooner than the Christians.
30. When you hear that the war has started from below (the south), then it will be near.
31. If the war starts from below (the south), you will suffer little. If it starts from above (the north), you will be destroyed.
32. The crags and the pits will be full of people.
33. It will come quickly. And either the ox will be in the field or the horse on the threshing floor.
34. It is sad for me to say it to you: today, tomorrow we will endure thirst and great hunger such that we would give thousands of gold coins but still will not find a little bread.
35. After the war, a man will have to run half an hour to find another human being to join him in fellowship. (The situation prophesied here fits with that anticipated today in the case of a nuclear war.)
36. Do not plant vineyards because they will be ruined like the ones in Dryinoupolis.
37. There will be a kingdom of paper (red tape) which will have a great future in the East.
38. The world will become so poor that it will clothe itself with tendrils.
39. The cause will come from Dalmata (Serbia).
40. France will free many Greek parts, and the Italians will, too.
41. France will free Greece, and Italy will free Epiros.
42. Through three narrow passes, Kra, Krapse, and Mouzina, many armies will pass to go to the City. It would be good for women and children to go out to the mountains. They will ask you if the City (Constantinople) is far away. You should not tell the truth, because they will do you evil. This army will not reach the City; on its way it will learn that the war has ended.
43. The time will come when the devil will make his turns with his pumpkin. (A strange prophecy! Is it about the technical satellites, which like pumpkins turn about in space and evoke the astonishment of men, who gape before these pumpkins and deify science? By this, we do not wish to depreciate the value of scientific discoveries, but we censure the arrogance of the contemporary world, which seeks to place the idols of the inventions in the place of the True God. In comparison with the enormous spheres which the omnipotence of God has created and released, in order that they might whirl in the vast space, what are the greatly admired technical satellites but small and fragile pumpkins in the infinite universe?)
44. You will see people moving from place to place.
45. Freedom will come from down there where the rivers empty.
46. Do not expect destruction from above and from Skales (a specific area)
47. One loaf will be half lost, and one will be lost entirely.
48. A time will come when one woman will drive away Turks with a distaff.
49. You should curse the Pope, because he will be the cause (of the war mentioned).
50. The destruction of the place will be done by a general by the name...(unreadable).
51. Many villages will be destroyed; the three villages will become one.
52. Have three doors; if they seize one of them, leave from the other.
53. If you hide behind the door, you will escape. It will happen quickly.
54. Entreat that it will be day and not night, summer and not winter.
55. People will be left poor because they will not have love for the trees.
56. People will end up naked because they will become lazy.
57. From up high, from the port the destruction will come.
58. They will throw you down a lot. They will ask to take it back, but they will not be able to.
59. You will save others, and others will save you.
60. You will leave by the mountains on the left, not from the right side. Do not be afraid of the caves.
61. It will come suddenly. The horses will be left tied up at their chores and you will leave.
62. It will be the eighth millenium when these things happen. (The eighth millenium is where we are now. According to the Scriptures, we are at 7,507 years from the beginning of creation, and we have now passed the middle of the eighth millenium.)
63. Hide next to the door or beside the table, if it is sudden and quick.
64. Many things will happen. The cities will end up like shacks.
65. A time will come when the cursed demon will come out of his wooden bowl (i.e., will be given much freedom).
66. A false prophet will come once. Do not believe him and do not rejoice with him. He will leave and will not come back.
67. A time will come when the Christians will rise up against each other.
68. Have a cross on your forehead so that they know that you are Christian.
69. The army will not reach the City (Constantinople). The news that what was always desired will be fulfilled (the City once again becoming Greek).
70. Go and you will be rewarded on the road. (This was said in Derbistani about someone who spoke ironically about the Saint. Soon afterwards, he was wounded on the road by one of his enemies.)
71. Tell those idols not to come here, but to turn back. (As the Saint was teaching in Assos of Cephalonia, he interrupted his preaching for a moment and sent someone from the audience to the house of the governor of the place, to say these words. When he went he found four aristocratic women indecently dressed, who were ready to come and listen to the Saint's preaching.)
72. You are building fancy houses, but you will not dwell in them. (The Saint said these words in Assos of Cephalonia, when one day he was passing buy a new house. Shortly thereafter, all the owners died except for one woman.)
73. This child will make progress, will rule Greece, and will be glorified. (This was said of John Koletis. When St. Kosmas received hospitality from the wealthy Koletis family, which had a child of about five years of age. This child, charming in every respect, sat in the lap of Kosmas and fondled his beard. The mother of the child had heard about Kosmas' gift of prophecy, and asked him about the future of her child. Kosmas said: "The child will be educated. He will go abroad. He will become a famous man. And he will die ruler of Greece." Indeed, the child was educated. He went to Europe and became a Physician. He took part in the Revolution of 1821. He became Minister, and in 1847, during the reign of Otto, he died as Prime Minister of Greece.)
74. You will become a great man, you will conquer all of Albania, you will subjugate Preveza, Parga, Souli, Delvino, Gardiki, and the very stronghold of Kurt Pasha. You will leave a great name in the world. Also, you will go to Constantinople,...but with a red beard. This is the will of Divine Providence. Remember, however, throughout your whole reign, to love and defend the Christians, if you want your successors to retain their power. (This was said at Tepeleni, in present day Albania, to Ali Pasha, and found amazing fulfillment after some thirty years. He became the sole, powerful ruler of Epiros. In saying the Ali Pasha would go to Constantinople but with a "red beard", the Saint meant that Ali Pasha would be beheaded and his head with a bloody beard would be sent to that city. This, too, found fulfillment.)
75. Things will come out of the schools that your mind does not even imagine.
76. You will see in the field a carriage without horses running faster than a rabbit.
77. A time will come when the earth will be girded by a thread (electrical power grid and telephone lines).
78. A time will come when people will speak from one distant place to another, as though they were in adjoining rooms - for example, from Constantinople to Russia.
79. You will see men flying in the sky like starlings, and throwing fire on the earth. Those who will live then will run to graves and will cry out: "Come out you who are dead so that we the living may enter." (These five successive prophecies of St. Kosmas are in books that were written about a century before the related inventions were made. Hence, they arouse admiration and manifestly testify to the Saint's gift of prophecy.)
80. The evil will come up to the Cross, and it will not be able to go down further. Do not be afraid. Do not leave your houses. (This was said in the area of Polyneriou Grebenon. Indeed, in 1940 the Italians reached the place called "The Cross" where the Saint had preached, and they stopped there.)
81. When the branch falls (where the Cross is erected), the great evil will occur, and it will come from the place the branch points. And when the tree falls, a greater evil will occur. (This was said in the village Tsiraki in Grebenon. Indeed, in 1940 the branch and the Cross fell towards Albania, which is from where the Italians attacked, and in 1947 the tree fell when the area was completely destroyed by the civil war with the communist guerillas).