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1. The Holy Archangel Gabriel.

The herald of the incarnation of the Son of God, he is one of the seven great angels who stand before the throne of God. He revealed to Zacharias the birth of the Forerunner, and said of himself: 'I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God' (Lk. 1:19). His name, Gabriel, signifies 'man of God'. Speaking about the Annunciation, the holy Fathers comment that an angel with such a name was sent to signify who He was, and of what nature He was, who would be born of the most pure Virgin. He would be the Man of God, the Man-God, the strong and mighty God. Others have found that it was this same Gabriel who announced the conception of the Virgin Mary to Joachim and Anna, and that it was he who taught Moses in the wilderness to write the Book of Genesis. The holy Fathers considered that Gabriel belongs to the foremost and highest order of the heavenly powers, the seraphim, since the seraphim stand closest to God. And so he is one of the seven seraphim closest to God. The names of these seven are: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selathiel, Jegudiel and Barachiel. Some would add Jeremiel to this number. Each has his own particular service, but all are equal in honour. Why did God not send Michael? For the reason that Michael's service is the suppression of the enemies of God's truth, while Gabriel's is the annunciation of the salvation of the human race.

2. The Hieromartyr Irenaeus, Bishop of Sirmium (Srem).

It is thought that he was a Slav, and was married and had children before becoming a bishop. He suffered for Christ in the time of Maximian, under Probus, the governor. His kinsmen stood around him during his frightful sufferings, beseeching him with tears to spare himself and them; in other words, to renounce Christ. But this glorious hieromartyr preferred the wounds he received for Christ to all the good things of this world. A certain gardener in Sirmium, Seven, also suffered at this time under Probus, also one Afrius in Regia. Since Irenaeus would not renounce his faith, Probus commanded that he be thrown from a bridge into the river Sava, where this pastor of Christ's flock died and took his place among the citizens of heaven. He suffered with honour in 304.

3. Our Holy Father Malchus.

Malchus was an agricultural worker in the neighbourhood of Antioch, and from his youth his whole spirit was directed towards God. The Arabs took him for a slave, and while he was in slavery they forced him to take a negress to wife. However, he brought her to the Christian faith and lived with her as a brother with his sister. They conspired together and escaped from slavery, but the Arabs nearly recaptured them. They hid in a cave in which they saw a lioness with her cubs, and were very greatly afraid. But God preserved them; the lioness did not harm them but killed an Arab who tried to enter the cave and seize the runaways. Reaching his home country, Malchus gave his wife to a women's monastery and went himself to a men's monastery. He lived for many years, exercising himself in asceticism, and took his place among the inhabitants of heaven in the fourth century.

4. Our Holy Father Basil the New.

He lived at first in a wood with neither shelter nor warmth. When he was arrested and questioned as to who he was, he replied: 'One of those living on earth.' They suspected that he might be a spy, and therefore tortured him very harshly. In the end he lived in freedom in Constantinople for many years. He could perceive everybody's secret thoughts, foretell the future and perform great miracles. The elder Theodora was his novice, the same Theodora who appeared after her death to Gregory, another of Basil's novices, and described to him the twenty toll-houses through which every soul must pass. St. Basil died peacefully on March 25th, 944, and took his place in the wondrous heavenly company. After his death he was seen by a citizen of Constantinople, shining with great glory in heaven.


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