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1. Our Holy Father John, and those martyred with him from the Community of St Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem.

This famous monastery, both visited by St Sava of Serbia and endowed by various Serbian rulers, is in existence today. Several times fallen to the savage Arabs, plundered and left empty, it has always been restored by the providence of God. In the time of the reign of Constantine and Irene it fell to the Arabs and was plundered. The monks would not flee, but took counsel together with their abbot, Thomas, saying: 'We have fled from the world into this wilderness for the love of Christ; it would be shame to us now to flee from the wilderness from fear of men. If we are killed here, we shall be killed through love for Christ, for whose sake we have come here to live.' And, so deciding, they awaited unarmed the armed Arabs, as lambs before wolves. The Arabs killed some of them with arrows, and others they shut into the cave of St Sava and lit a fire at the entrance to suffocate them in the smoke. And thus many of them died as martyrs for the sake of Christ and went to the Kingdom of Him whom they had loved and for the sake of whose love they had perished. They suffered with honour before Easter in 796, in the time of Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem. But a just punishment quickly fell on their savage destroyers. Returning to their tents, they began to quarrel, and in the ensuing battle killed each other off.

2. The Holy Martyr Photina.

This was that Samaritan woman who had the rare fortune to speak with the Lord Christ Himself at Jacob's Well in Sychar (Jn. 4). Coming to faith in the Lord, she then came to belief in His Gospel, together with her two sons, Victor and Josiah, and five sisters who were called Anatolia, Phota, Photida, Paraskeva and Kyriake. They went to Carthage in Africa. But they were arrested and taken to Rome in the time of the Emperor Nero, and thrown into prison. By the providence of God, Domnina, Nero's daughter, came into contact with St Photina and was brought by her to the Christian faith. After imprisonment, they all suffered for Christ. Photina, who first encountered the light of truth by a well, was thrown into a well, where she died and entered into the immortal Kingdom of Christ.

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