The Russian Tale Edit
In the mid-14th century, the Patriarch of Constantinople was Philotheos, of legendary Christian virtue and piety. One night, he had a vision of a radiant youth, who told him that Constantinegave Pope Sylvester I a white cowl for the glory of the Church. It was, for a time, in the possession of the Roman Catholic Popes in the West, but they eventually sent the cowl to Philotheos. The youth told Philotheos that he should accept the gift and immediately forward it to Novgorod, Russia before the corrupt Western Church could demand its return.
The Pope did indeed demand the return of the Cowl, but the Patriarch of Constantinople wisely refused. Initially, the Patriarch wished to keep the holy relic in his own city, but the radiant youth appeared to him again and told him of the Empire's impending doom at the hands of the Turks. The Patriarch saw the wisdom in this warning and promptly sent the Cowl on to Novgorod, where it arrived safely. It was presented the Archbishop Vasilii Kalika (1330–1352). The White Cowl or hood became a special symbol unique to the Archbishop of Novgorod. In fact, a church council in 1564 confirmed the right of the archbishops to wear the white cowl and use red wax seals on their correspondence (the latter privilege had previously been reserved for the grand prince and patriarch).
Today the Patriarch and metropolitans wear white cowls. The archbishop of Novgorod wears a black cowl like other bishops.