September 22, 2010

Saint Kosmas of Zographou Monastery (+ 1323)

St. Kosmas of Zographou (Feast Day - September 22)

Saint Kosmas, an ascetic of Zographou Monastery at the Holy Mountain, was a Bulgarian. In his youth he avoided entering into marriage, and secretly left his parents' home for Mount Athos. Then as he was on his way to the Holy Mountain, the devil tried to shake the yearning of the youth, vexing him with a vision of the infinite abyss of the sea surrounding the Holy Mountain. The fervent prayer of the youth dispelled the demonic temptation.

On Athos, Kosmas was accepted in Zographou Monastery. There he was a novice for a long time, and then he was tonsured, and was appointed ecclesiarch. Kosmas was made worthy to see the heavenly abbess of Mount Athos herself, who on the Feast of the Annunciation at Vatopaidi Monastery deigned to reveal to him a glimpse of her care for her earthly appanage. He saw a woman of royal majesty and grandeur, who both attended in church for services and in the trapeza. All the monks served and obeyed her.

Soon the Saint was ordained as deacon, and then as presbyter, which inspired him to new exploits. Zealous for salvation, the Saint through fervent prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos was granted a particular sign of her special favor. He heard the voice of the Mother of God issuing from her holy icon* and asking her Son, "How will Kosmas be saved?" The Lord answered, "Let him withdraw from the monastery into silence." After obtaining the blessing of the abbot, Saint Kosmas withdrew into the wilderness, and there in a cave cut into a cliff, began his new deed of silent seclusion. God did not forsake the faithful man of prayer, for the Saint was granted the gift of clairvoyance.

Just as at the start of his ascetic life, the enemy of the race of mankind again tried to dissuade the Saint from his intended path, and so the final days before the venerable one's death were also a grievous trial for him.

Not long before the death of God's chosen one, he was granted a vision of Christ Himself, Who informed the Saint that before his soul would depart to the heavenly Kingdom, Satan himself with his hosts would beat and gnash at him. Prepared for the suffering by this divine solace, the Saint bravely underwent the terrible demonic assaults, and on the third day after furious beatings, he received the All-Pure Mysteries. With words of praise on his lips, he peacefully departed to the Lord.

God, "Who glorifies those who glorify Him," also glorified Saint Kosmas miraculously at his death. At the time of the Saint's burial a multitude of beasts and birds flocked to his cave, as though sensing the common loss of the Holy Mountain. When they placed his body in the grave and began to cover it with ground, each of the speechless creatures let out a mournful cry, bestowing final respect to the Saint of God.

Forty days later, when the brethren opened the Saint's tomb after the all-night vigil (as was customary), in order to transfer them to the monastery with honor, they were not to be found. The Lord hid them in a miraculous manner. This occurred in the year 1323.

* The Icon before which Saint Kosmas prayed, and from which he heard the voice of the Mother of God, was named "The Hearer" (Epakousa) because she heard his prayer. It is still in the katholikon of Zographou Monastery, in the altar, on the eastern wall, which extends into the diakonikon.
Panagia Epakousa

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Every saint is close to the place where he is invoked for help, or where his sanctity is commemorated and glorified. Those who are clairvoyant see the saints. If those who are not clairvoyant truly believe, they will see them in due time.

Even as a young monk, Saint Kosmas of Zographou had this gift. Once, on the Feast of the Annunciation, he went with several other monks to the Monastery of Vatopaidi for this, their main feast. During the church service, and during the meal in the refectory, Kosmas saw a woman of royal beauty and majesty, who authoritatively organized, directed, and even served. This was not a momentary vision, but continued for a long time, both in the church and in the refectory. Kosmas was perplexed and startled by this vision. It was not at all proper for a woman to be in a monastery of the Holy Mountain. When he related this vision to his brother monks at Zographou, all the while protesting the presence of women on the Holy Mountain, the astonished monks explained to him that she was the Queen of the Holy Mountain, the Most Holy Theotokos. Then the perplexed heart of Kosmas was filled with great joy.

Saint Kosmas was so gifted with spiritual sight that, later, as an old hermit in his cave, he saw the soul of the abbot of Hilandari ascending to heaven, struggling to pass through the tollhouses, tormented by demons. Kosmas immediately sent someone to ask the brethren at Hilandari to pray to God for the soul of their reposed abbot. Matins had just been dismissed, and the monks and the abbot had just left the church. Hearing Kosmas's message, the monks laughed, saying that their abbot had just gone to his cell to prepare for Divine Liturgy. But when they entered the cell they found their abbot dead.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
In the cave where you have settled, you have been imitating by deeds He Who was born in a Cave, O Kosmas, most blessed one. You have endured even to the very death the demonic struggles and have, through grace, become a model. Your body immortal lasts for ever in the secret treasure until the Second Judgement and the Resurrection. Glory to Him Who had granted you firm strength, glory to Him Who had exalted you, glory to Him Who had made you famous in the Heavenly Kingdom.