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1. The Hieromartvr Basil, Priest of Ancyra.

Under the Emperor Constantius there was much suffering at the hands of the Arians. At that time, Basil became known as a staunch defender of Orthodoxy and a true shepherd of his flock in Ancyra. When, after Constantius, Julian the Apostate came to the throne and began to persecute the Christians, Basil openly denounced this new wickedness and encouraged his people in the Faith. For this he was thrown into prison. When the Emperor Julian came to Ancyra, Basil was brought before him and he began to urge Basil to abandon the Christian faith, promising him honours and wealth. Then Basil answered him: 'I believe in my Christ, whom you have denied and who gave you this earthly kingdom, but He will shortly take this from you. How can you have no shame before the altar under which you were saved from death as an eight-year-old child when they sought to kill you? Therefore He will soon take this earthly kingdom from you, and your body shall not be buried when you have spewed forth your soul in bitter torments.' Julian was furious and ordered that seven strips of skin be torn from his body every day. And his torturers carried this out for seven days. When Basil was brought out again before the Emperor, he tore a strip of his own flesh off and threw it into Julian's face, shouting: 'Take this and eat it, Julian, if such food is sweet to you, but Christ is life for me!' This occurrence was noised in the town, and the Emperor left Ancyra in secret out of shame and went to Antioch. And they continued to torture Basil with red hot irons until he surrendered his soul to his Lord for whom he had suffered so much. This was in the year 363.

2. St Drosida.

The daughter of the Emperor Trajan, she was seized with five other women when they were gathering the bodies of the martyrs who had suffered for Christ by night, and was for this cruelly mutilated by the Emperor. The five women were terribly tortured and at last thrown into molten copper, where they surrendered their souls to their Lord. But Drosida remained under strict imperial guard. However, she escaped from the court and baptised herself in a river. After eight days she gave her soul into God's hands.

3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Euthymius.

Born in the village of Dimitsana in the Peloponnese, he lived as a Christian as a boy, but later went to Romania and there gave himself over to great debauchery. In this debasement, the evil spirit led him to embrace Islam. No sooner had he done so than he began to repent bitterly. He returned to the Christian faith and became a monk on the Holy Mountain. After several years spent in strict fasting and prayer, he made up his mind to die for Christ. With the blessing of his spiritual father, he went to Constantinople, where he somehow succeeded in gaining access to the Grand Vizier. He began to make the sign of the Cross in front of him, to praise Christ and to denounce Mahomet. After long-drawn-out torture, he was condemned to death and was slain on March 22nd, 1814, on Palm Sunday. Many miraculous hearings of the sick were wrought through his relics. His precious head is in the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon on the Holy Mountain. Thus this twenty-year-old youth first died to Christ and then died for Christ.

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