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Repose of the New-Hieromartyr Kosmas of Aitolia, Equal of the Apostles (24 August)

The great Equal to the Apostles, the enlightener of the enslaved Nation, the wondrous, holy, glorious and beloved by the people Hieromartyr, was born in the village of Mega Dendron of Aitolia in 1714. Specifically he was from between the villages of Mega Dendron and Taxiarchae of the Trichonida Mountains in a district called Apokouro. His parents were from Epirus: “The parents of a pious son, by whom he was brought up and educated in the education and admonition of the Lord, as the Apostle says.”
He learned his first letters in the Monastery of Panagia Segditsa in Parnassidos near Hierodeacon Gerasimos Lytsikas and in Lampotina Nafpaktia with the Hieroteacher Ananias Dervisanos, where he also taught. Then he went to the famous school Vrangianon Agrafon, which was founded by his compatriot Saint Eugenios the Aitolos (+ 1682). In this school he taught senior classes in philosophy, ancient Greek, theology, mathematics, medicine and other forms of encyclopaedic knowledge.
He then came to Mount Athos where he attended the Athoniada School. According to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite: “Because during those times there began with great fame the school of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos, he went there with many other special classmates; there he completed his grammar under the teacher Panagiotis Palamas and after studied logic under the teacher Nicholas Tzartzoulion of Metzovo. He was also taught by the most-wise Eugenios. Even before the schema as a layman he was decorated with the unique modesty of the schema, and he always struggled, exercising himself towards perfect asceticism.” In this famous Vatopaidi School and near important teachers for some six years, he acquired quite a good education and personal educational views.
Later, in his teachings, he refers to the education he acquired: “My Christians, I wore out my life in studies forty to fifty years. I read the works of priests, and of the impious and the atheists and the heretics. The depths of wisdom I researched.”
Elsewhere he said: “I learned many languages: Hebrew, Turkish, French, and from all the nations many things did I read.”

Then he went to Philotheou Monastery. There he became a monk and took the name Kosmas and was ordained a priest. As he says himself: “I went, and on the Holy Mountain I wept for my sins for seventeen years.” From an early age he had great love for God and neighbor. In studying the Gospels he thought by this he could help his brethren in the best manner. He prayed and he consulted with spiritual fathers and elders. He felt that he had to leave his beloved Mount Athos, to help the suffering people. St. Nikodemos continues: “The Nation was in danger of the following: On the one hand the Turks, on the other hand the Enlightenment – the atheistic Enlightenment – of France. The faith was constantly diminishing. Islam was in triumph. The Greek language was disappearing. Whole provinces forgot Romeik [Greek] and some spoke Turkish, others Slavic, others Arvanite and others Vlach. There was also foreign propaganda. Papal missionaries with Lutheran and Calvanist false apostles took advantage of the poverty of the people and infixed their crooked and infected nails into the immaculate and pure flesh of Christ’s Church. The Saint understood the risk. The pessimistic messages had arrived at Mount Athos. He received them. He had to interrupt his asceticism in the Monastery. The Nation, the Church of Christ, awaited him. He had gained much of an education, over-achieved many virtues, was endowed with beyond-theoretical humility, and divine zeal burned in his heart.”

At Philotheou he felt the call from God to undertake this great work “of enlightening and regenerating his Christian brethren. The Greeks had fallen into ignorance in regards to their religion, and this resulted in much wickedness, with large numbers changing their faith from Orthodoxy to Muhammadanism. Kosmas felt this deepest. Therefore he requested and received the permission of his elders to undertake such a mission. Leaving the Holy Mountain, he went to Constantinople, met with Patriarch Seraphim (1757-1761) and received from him written permission to preach throughout Greece.

In 1760 while in Constantinople he met with his brother according to the flesh Chrysanthos the Aitolos († 1785), from whom he learned the art of rhetoric. His missionary work in continental and insular Greece was ambitious, wondrous, successful and important.
He preached simply, ripely, heartfelt, expressively, humbly and gracefully. He spoke “according to my ability, not as a teacher, but as a brother; Christ alone is our teacher.” “You are children and daughters of our Christ”, he would say to his audience, “and not only am I not worthy to teach you, but even to kiss your feet, because each of you by your speech are more honorable than the whole world.” Elsewhere he characteristically and humbly observed: “When I heard these sweet words, my brethren, that our Christ said, ‘my heart was devoured for years as if by worms’ for our Christian brethren, and I went out and walked from land to land and place to place to save their souls and teach my Christian brethren.”
For his over two decades of rich work preaching he passed through Constantinople, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Central Greece, Peloponnesos, Epirus and the islands of the Aegean and Ionian seas. His fiery sermons were particularly successful in the hungry and tired souls of the enslaved, as his good disciple and biographer Sapfeiros Christodoulides says: “Wherever the thrice-blessed one went, there was a large gathering of Christians and they listened with compunction and reverence to the grace and sweetness of his words, and this was followed by a great correction and benefit to the soul.” And St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes: “His teaching was, as we his listeners became, most simple, like that of the fishermen; it was serene and gentle, where it appeared to be entirely full of the grace of the cheerful and quiet Holy Spirit.” He continues: “And God above cooperated and confirmed his words with the signs and miracles that followed, and through these miracles he confirmed the preaching of his sacred mission.” In North Epirus “he cooperated with divine grace, and he produced many and great fruits, so that he tamed the wild, calmed the bandits, soothed the ruthless and unmerciful, showed mercy to the irreverent, made the illiterate to be reverent, taught those who were ignorant divine things, and he caused them to run to the Divine Services. And simply all sinners he brought to great repentance and correction, so that all said that in their time there appeared a new Apostle.”
All his biographers especially emphasize that he suffered to establish schools that Greek children could learn letters for free, “that they may be established in the faith and in reverence, to be led towards a virtuous life and disposition.” He also persuaded the rich to buy fonts for the churches that did not have them. In this way 400 fonts were purchased, as well as books for the illiterate and prayer ropes and crosses for all the faithful, around 500,000. He did not hesitate to stigmatize the trade of the Jews which they did on Sunday, and he did not allow Christians to work on the Day of the Lord. This is why the Jews mortally hated him.
On his journeys he was followed by many priests and many people. Every sermon in each place was a sacred rite. He would tell Christians to prepare, confess and fast. The priests performed the Mystery of the Sacred Unction, and they anointed the Christians. Everywhere a large wooden Cross was set up, they lit candles, and he stood on his stool, distributing blessings, bread, kollyva, and then he taught. The Cross would remain to commemorate his passage and often worked miracles. His disciples took notes, and this is how we have his teachings today, accompanied by the miracles and prophecies. His prophecies mention the liberation of the enslaved Nation, the future of various individuals, cities and mankind, the discoveries of science and other subjects. Many of these things took place with true precision.
Despite the great love of the people who were beneficiaries of the Saint, and the respect harbored for him even by the Turks, there were also certain people who hated him, such as certain wealthy kodjabashis, because he rebuked their various injustices, but especially the Jews, whom he also rebuked in his sermons. “Of course, the Saint did not suffer from anti-semitism. Rather here he was speaking words of truth. He knew that Jews were behind many of the injustices and persecutions of the Christians.” He wrote in a letter to his brother Chrysanthos a few months before his death: “Ten thousand Christians love me and one hates me. A thousand Turks love me and one not so much. A thousand Jews want me dead and one does not.”

The Jews slandered him to the Turkish authorities, and managed with a lot of money given to Ahmet Kurt Pasha of Berat to achieve his killing. The Saint foreknew his end and on his last night “he showed no signs of sadness for his withdrawal from this life, but he even appeared graceful in his face, as if he was going to joys and revelry.” They hanged him from a tree in the village of Kolikondasi and threw his honorable relic in the Apsos River. Despite the fact that they tied a rock around his neck, his relic washed ashore. It was found by the pious priest Mark and buried in the Monastery of the Theotokos Ardenica. The Saint was martyred on August 24, 1779. In August of 1813 the translation of his honorable relic took place. The following year a church and monastery were built in his honor by command of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, which he had prophesied about.


Saint Kosmas the Aitolos was honored very early on as a Saint by the faithful people. Proof of this honor and love are the hundreds of icons, frescoes, engravings, woodcuts, drawings, shrines and churches. The canonical act of his recognition took place by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on April 20, 1961. In 1984 the authors P.B. Paschou and P.F. Christopoulos found the relics of the Saint in the ruins of his Monastery in Albania. There is a fairly rich bibliography concerning the Saint.
His Service and Life were composed by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, Sapfeiros Christodoulides (1814), Thomas Paschides (1860) and Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanites. His Supplication Service was written by Metropolitan Seraphim of Arta.
His memory is celebrated on August 24th.
Source: From the book Synaxarion of Vatopaidi. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

The New Hieromartyr Cosmas, Equal of the Apostles, in the world Constas, was a native of Aitolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananias Dervisanos, and afterwards continued his education on Mount Athos, at the Vatopedi school renowned for teachers such as Nicholas Tzartzoulios (from Metsovo) and Eugenius Voulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).

Remaining on Athos at the Philotheou monastery to devote himself to spiritual labors, he was tonsured a monk with the name Cosmas, and later was ordained hieromonk. The desire to benefit his fellow Christians, to guide them upon the way of salvation and strengthen their faith, impelled Saint Cosmas to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of rhetoric and, having received a written permit of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronius) to preach the Holy Gospel.

So the saint began to proclaim the Gospel at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danube regions, in Thessalonica, in Verroia, in Macedonia, Chimaera, Akarnania, Aitolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places.

His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, was simple, calm, and gentle. It brought Christians great spiritual benefit. The Lord Himself assisted him and confirmed his words with signs and miracles, just as He had confirmed the preaching of the Apostles.

Preaching in the remote areas of Albania, where Christian piety had almost disappeared among the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, Saint Cosmas led them to sincere repentance and improvement with the Word of God.

Under his guidance, church schools were opened in the towns and villages. The rich offered their money for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come to church with covered heads),for prayer ropes and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk), and for baptismal fonts so that children could be baptized in the proper manner.

Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, Saint Cosmas with forty or fifty priests served the Vigil in the fields, and in city squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead, and were edified by his preaching. Everywhere that Saint Cosmas halted and preached, the grateful listeners set up a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.

The apostolic service of Saint Cosmas was brought to a close by his martyric death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river, and after three days, was found by the priest Mark and buried near the village of Kolikontasi at the monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, part of his relics were transferred to various places as a blessing.

He was glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1961.

Our holy Father Cosmas was from the town of Mega Dendron (Great Tree) of Aetolia. At the age of twenty, he went to study at the school of the Monastery of Vatopedi on the Holy Mountain. Later, he came to the Athonite Monastery of Philotheou where he was tonsured.

With the blessing of his abbot, he departed for Constantinople where he learned the art of rhetoric, and thereafter, he began to preach throughout all the regions of northern Greece, the Ionian Islands, but especially in Albania, for the Christian people there were in great ignorance because of the oppression and cruelty of the Moslems.

Finally, in 1776, after having greatly strengthened and enlightened the faithful, working many signs and wonders all the while, he was falsely accused by the leaders of the Jewish people and was executed by strangulation by the Moslem Turks in Albania.

Apolytikion of Cosmas of Aitola

Third Tone

With odes let us acclaim the renowned Cosmas, who gloriously excelled among the choirs of the martyrs, priest, and ascetics, and let gather in praise of his memory; for he dispenseth healing to them that have recourse to him with faith, since, as an equal of the Apostles, he hath boldness before Christ.

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