Beres are monks of Mingrelia in the Caucasus. They are initiated or admitted into the body by having a calot, or leathern cap, put upon their head, and from that time they are bound to abstain from animal food, and to receive their instruction from the other Beres. They read mass in the Georgian language. They very frequently fast, and should they omit so important a duty they imagine that the guilt of such a sin can only be removed by a second baptism. They prohibit the eating of every kind of flesh, claiming that our Lord never tasted animal food during his whole life, and that he celebrated the paschal supper with fish only. The Beres are usually dressed like laymen, with this difference, that they let their hair and beard grow. They are also trained up from childhood to abstinence.
The name of Beres is also given to Mingrelian nuns of different kinds. Some are young women who have renounced marriage; others are servants, who, after the death of their masters, become Beres along with their mistresses; others are widows who never marry again, or in some cases divorced wives; while many have embraced the life of a Bere from poverty. All these nuns of Hinlgrelia are dressed in black, and have their heads covered with a black veil. They are not continued in convents, and may quit the religious life without being chargeable with any breach of vow.