Damian of Albania

Archbishop Damian (Albanian: Kryepeshkopi Damian, secular name Dhimitër Kokoneshi; 1886 - 8 October 1973, Pogradec) was the bishop of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania from April 1966 until February 1967, when the religion was abolished in Albania.[2]

Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania
Damian Kokoneshi.jpg
InstalledApril 1966
Term ended8 October 1973[1]
SuccessorPost Abolished (Anastasios following re-establishment in 1992)
Personal details
Birth nameDhimitër Kokoneshi
Mokër, Manastir Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (modern-day Albania)
Died8 October 1973
Pogradec, Communist Albania (modern-day Albania)
Alma materNormal School of Monastir (1896)
Academy of Theology in Ioannina (1925)
Styles of
The Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and all Albania
Kisha Ortodokse e Shqipërisë.svg
Reference styleHis Beatitude
Spoken styleYour Beatitude
Religious styleArchbishop
Posthumous styleN/A


Kokoneshi was born in 1886 in the village of Llëngë in Mokër region, (part of then Ottoman Empire), near Pogradec in today's Albania. He was of Aromanian descent.[3]:6 His early education included attending the Normal School of Monastir in 1896 and the Academy of Theology in Ioannina in 1925.[4]

On November 27, 1918, the Émigré Albanian Orthodox clerics sent a signed petition to the U.S. President, then Woodrow Wilson, asking for support of Albanian Church becoming autocephalous. The cleric's position was based on Albania becoming an independent country. The petition was signed by Father Theofan Stilian Noli, Father Damian Kokoneshi, Father Naum Cëre, Father Vasil Marko Kondili, Father Pando Sinica, and Father Vangjel Çamçe, future metropolitan Agathangjeli. The petition was supported by the Albanian Church Assembly ("Kuvendi Kishëtar") in Boston, MA on July 30, 1919. Autocephaly was finally declared at the Congress of Berat on September 12, 1922.[5]

On February 10, 1942, Kokoneshi, well known in his native region, led a delegation of Mokër leaders to a meeting with representatives of the National Liberation Movement. At that time, Kokoneshi was referred to as Papa Dhimitër Kokoneshi. The meeting led to the formation of a partisan regional battalion, which he joined.[6] Similar to his predecessor as bishop of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, Pashko Vodica, Kokoneshi and the new regime showed mutual support and respect for each other.[2][7]

In January 1948, Kokoneshi, with the rank of archpriest, visited Moscow as a member of the Albanian Orthodox Church delegation.[8] In 1952, Kokoneshi was consecrated bishop of Gjirokastra. In 1958, he made another visit to the USSR with a delegation of the Church of Albania.

In April 1966, after the death of Archbishop Paisius, the Holy Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church elected Bishop Damian as Archbishop of Tirana and all of Albania.

In 1967, Damian of Albania was arrested during the beginning of the massive anti-religious campaign of that time in Albania. Religion would be abolished in the Socialist People's Republic of Albania and many clerics would be arrested and imprisoned. Properties of the four religious communities would be confiscated, and many of the clerics who were spared were required to work menial jobs.[9]

Damian of Albania was arrested one year after taking the office, in April 1967,[10] and was imprisoned shortly thereafter. After his release, he retired to his home in Pogradec where he died in October 18, 1973.[9][11]

The Orthodox world learned of his death nearly seven months later, in May 1974.[12] His pro-communist background and age helped the Archbishop avoid the severe persecution that was common against the high level clerics of the time.


Kokoneshi was declared an Honorary Citizen of Korçë County in 2003 for his contribution to the establishment of the Autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church.[13]


  1. ^ de jure; de facto: February 1967
  2. ^ a b La Civiltà Cattolica, Issues 3727-3732, IV, Nov 19, 2005, p. 348, ISSN 0009-8167
  3. ^ Kazanxhi, Stavri (April 2015). "BARIU I GRIGJËS RRËMËNE DHIMITËR KOKONESHI". Fraţia. 19 (229): 16. Dhimitër Kokoneshi u lind më 1886 në një familje arumune në fshatin Llëngë të Pogradecit.
  4. ^ Llazi Tona (March 2009), Ne labirinthet e monumenteve kulturore, historike te perbotshme (PDF) (in Albanian), Gazeta Mokra, p. 5, retrieved 2014-01-22
  5. ^ Jorgoni, Elida (May 28, 2012), At Theofan Stilian Noli, Kryepeshkopi reformator (in Albanian), Gazeta Dielli, archived from the original on 2014-01-22, retrieved 2014-01-22
  6. ^ Llazi Tona (2013-12-19), Atdhetarë të shquar të Shqipërisë (in Albanian), Gazeta Zeri i Popullit, retrieved 2014-01-22
  7. ^ Enver Hoxha (1984), Laying the Foundations of the New Albania, Memoirs and Historical Notes, "8 Nëntori" Publishing House, p. 273, OCLC 12948990, ...such patriotic clergymen as Baba Laze and Baba Fejzo, Hafez Halil Tophana and Hafez Zagonjori, Father Pashko Vodica and Father Kokone- shi, Father Ilia Zagali, Muco the dervish, ...
  8. ^ Шкаровский, Михаил Витальевич (2009-08-25), Албанская Православная Церковь в годы II Мировой войны (in Russian), Bogoslov.ru, archived from the original on 2014-10-06, retrieved 2014-01-22
  9. ^ a b Lucian Leustean (May 19, 2011), Eastern Christianity and the Cold War, 1945-91, Routledge Studies in the History of Russian and Eastern Europe, Routledge, p. 150, ISBN 978-0415673365
  10. ^ Robert Elsie (2010), Historical Dictionary of Albania, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, 75 (2 ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 343, ISBN 978-0-8108-6188-6, Paisios’s successor, Damian Kokonesi (1886–1973), was arrested one year after taking up office and died in November 1973 at the age of 80.
  11. ^ "Church of Albania's website Nga viti 1937 deri në ditët tona". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
  12. ^ Глава VII. Албанская Православная Церковь
  13. ^ Këshilli i Qarkut Korçë: Figura të shquara të Qarkut të Korçës të dekoruara në vitin 2001-2012 (in Albanian)