Cosmas III (The Patriarch)


The fifty-eighth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (920-932). Cosmas apparently succeeded GABRIEL I without complications about his selection. His life is treated very briefly in the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS, despite his relatively long reign of twelve years. Nothing on his internal relations with the Islamic administration is cited in his biography, and the only item of an international character that is cited concerns his nomination of a certain Butrus as archbishop for the diocese of Ethiopia.

It is said that the Ethiopian monarch entrusted Butrus with caring for his two sons after his death and that Butrus gave the crown to the younger son, who seemed more suitable for running the affairs of the kingdom. Later, a monk by the name of Mina, of Dayr Anba Antuniyus, and a companion came to Ethiopia and requested funds from the archbishop, who refused. They conspired against him by submitting false letters from the patriarch to the older son. The letters stated that Mina was the real appointee to the Ethiopian diocese and that Butrus was an impostor. Consequently, the older son mustered an army and, with the new pretender, defeated the younger brother, seized the crown, and exiled Butrus.

Later, Mina and his companion quarreled over the episcopal treasure, and their trick was exposed. The disagreement ended in their dismissal and an appeal was made for the return of the rightful dignity. But Butrus had died in the interval, and the Ethiopian diocese remained vacant during the reign of five successive patriarchs. Meanwhile, the new sovereign had Mina killed and invested the assistant of Butrus with the duties of his master’s office, despite the fact that he was not properly consecrated by Cosmas. Cosmas died on 3 Baramhat.


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