ORTHODOX TRADITION »  ST. KOSMAS THE AETOLEAN

Cephalonia has been blessed in having received the word and the preaching of the Great Preacher of the Nation, St. Kosmas the Aetolean.

He was born in 1714 in Megalo Dendro of Aetoloakarnania where he owes his name "Aetolean".

From an early age he entered Mount Athos , the bastion of ascetism, where he was educated at the Athonian Ecclesiastic Academy headed by Eugenios Voulgaris. He entered the monastic ranks as a monk at Filotheou Monastery.

AT the age of 45, having received the blessing of Patriarch Sofronios, he embarked upon his missionary campaign throughout the enslaved Greek territories bringing the message of Christ and the nation to those deprived of both.
His contribution to the Church, the Nation, Education, and social cohesion, is significant and of inestimable value.

He died a martyr's death on August 29th 1779 in Kolikontasi, a North Epirus village by the Apson River.

In recognition of his work, our Church ranked him as equal to the Apostles and a Patriarchic Decree issued on April 20th 1961 classified him into the Orthodox Sainthood.

He came to Cephalonia in 1765 and visited almost every region. His presence on the island was so significant and catalytic that when he left for Zakynthos, he was accompanied by ten boats filled with devout Cephalonians. The nobles prevailant in Zakynthos at the time did not receive him well. This caused him to return to Cephalonia, the hospitable island that honored him.

Many of his Crosses are preserved to this day on the island and his preachings and words are still repeated from generation to generation through word of mouth. He had a habit of raising the Holy Cross and the Church Flag and preaching in their shadow wherever he went. Through his preaching he consoled, inspired and taught the enslaved Christians.
Preserved to this day are the St. Kosmas Fountains of Sissiotissa in Argostoli and in the village of Tzanata. The Cross of St. Kosmas in Assos still stands as well as the olive tree under which he preached. Every year there is a celebration in his honor with a Litany leading to this spot officiated by the Most Reverend Spyridon, Metropolitan of Cephalonia.

Among the preserved momentos of St. Kosmas we find some of his written prophecies such as "The Red Hats will come and then the British for 54 years, after which it will become Greek" Red Hats is a term used for the French Army alluding to the color of the soldier's berets in the era of Napoleon. In fact, after the Venetians, the island was occupied by the French who were followed by the British. The British occupied the island for 54 years, just as had predicted!

Passing outside a newly built house in Assos, he said: "you build strong houses but you shall not live in them.." Shortly after, the owners all died with the exception of a nun.

While in Assos over a century ago, he predicted te great inventions of our time: "..there will come a time when the entire world will be encircled by thread" referring to telephone wires. "There will come a time that people will speak from a far away place like they were in the next room, like from Constantinople to Russia." Obviously he referred to telephone lines that allow people from all over the world to communicate like they were in the next room.
One wonders at the gift God granted a simple man to foretell events so far into the future in such detail. This proves the saintliness and purity of the man who because of these characteristics became the bearer of the Holy Spirit and Divine Will.

Once in Palliki he met Gerasimos Kladas, a simple clergyman at the time and addressed him as Archbishop. Shortly after, Kladas became Archbishop of Cephalonia.

St. Kosmas' Cross is kept in a special crypt of the Evangelistria Church in Faraklata while his Cross and dome is treasured in the village of Pessada. A small chapel has been erected in his honor at Agrilila Monastery on the initiative of the abbot, Reverend Chrysostomos Alexatos. The Chapel is adjacent to the cross bearing rock where St. Kosmas preached.

Two of his handwritten letters to the governor asking for permission to preach, are kept at the Ecclesiastic Museum which was built by Metropolitan Spyridon at St. Andrew's Convent.

Cephalonia, the gem of the Ionian treaded by many saints, is full of the numerous treasures left behind from his blessed journeys through the island.

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