Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father Joseph The Hymnographer.

He was born in Sicily of devout and virtuous parents, Plotinus and Agatha. After the death of his parents, he moved to Salonica, where he became a monk. As a monk, he was an example to all in fasting, restraint, ceaseless supplication, psalmody, vigils and toil. The Bishop of Salonica ordained him hieromonk. The famous Gregory of Decapolis, visiting Salonica, loved Joseph with heart and soul for his rare character, and took him back with him to his monastery in Constantinople. When the flame of iconoclasm sprang up again under Leo the Armenian, Joseph was sent to Rome to call the Pope and the Roman Church to battle for the true Faith. But pirates captured him on the way and took him to Crete, where he was kept in prison for six years by the heretics. Joseph rejoiced that he was made worthy to suffer for Christ, and thanked God constantly, regarding the iron chains with which he was bound as golden ornaments. In the sixth year, around Christmas, the wicked Emperor was murdered at the morning service in church. At the same moment, St Nicolas appeared to Joseph in the prison and said to

him: 'Get up and follow me. 'Joseph felt himself lifted up in the air, and found himself all at once in Constantinople. His arrival was a source of rejoicing to all the Orthodox faithful. He composed Canons and hymns for many of the saints. He had the gift of insight, because of which Patriarch Photius made him spiritual father and confessor to his priests, recommending him as 'a man of God, an angel in the flesh, a father of fathers'. In great old age, he gave his soul into the hands of the God he had served so faithfully in work and song. He died peacefully on the eve of Holy Thursday in 883.

2. The Holy Martyr Pherbutha, her widowed sister and their slave.

In the reign of the Persian King Saborius, a bishop, St Simeon, was executed. His sister, Pherbutha, was taken to court for the Queen's pleasure. Pherbutha was unusually beautiful, and she therefore had many suitors, including pagan priests and soothsayers. Pherbutha refused them all, thus bringing down great wrath upon her head. When, just at that time, the Queen fell ill, all the priests informed the King that the Queen had been poisoned by Pherbutha, and, as a means of healing, proposed that Pherbutha, her sister and their slave, as Christians, be sawn to pieces, that three parts of their bodies be placed on one side and three on the other, and that the Queen be taken through between them. The King agreed to this bloody suggestion of the soothsayers', and Pherbutha, her sister and their slave-girl suffered in this way for Christ in 343, thereby meriting an unfading wreath in the deathless Kingdom of their Lord.

3. Our Holy Father Zossima.

A monk of the Jordan community in the reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, he found St Mary of Egypt, gave her Communion and buried her. He entered into rest in the Lord, at the age of 100, in the 6th century.

4. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Nicetas.

He was a Slav from Albania. As a monk of the Holy Mountain, he went to Serres, where be disputed with the mullahs about the Faith. Being unable to overcome him by reason, the Turks put him to torture, under which St Nicetas died and gave his soul to God in 1808.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK