Prologue Search

1. The Holy Martyr Matrona.

She was an orphan, and a servant in the house of a certain Jew in Salonica. The wife of this Jew constantly derided Matrona for her faith in Christ, and urged her to cast Christ aside and go to the synagogue. But the humble Matrona went about her work conscientiously, not replying to, her mistress and secretly praying to Christ our God. On one occasion the Jewess discovered that Matrona had gone to church unbeknown to her, and demande , in a great rage, to know why she had gone to the church and not the synagogue. 'Because God is alive in the Christian Church, but He has departed from the synagogues of the Jews', replied Matrona. Enraged by such a courageous answer, the Jewess thrashed her and locked her in a dark chamber, and in addition to that had her bound. But the next day she found her unbound by the power of God and kneeling in prayer, praising God. Then she locked her up again for the second time until she died of hunger. Then that wicked woman took the body of the holy maiden and threw it to the ground from the top of her house. Christians took the body of the martyr and buried it, and the bishop, Alexander, when he had learned of the many miracles worked by the holy martyr, built a church over her grave. As for the evil Jewess, she soon received her just reward, when, standing on the same spot from which she had thrown Matrona's body, she slipped and fell onto the cobbled pavement and was smashed to pieces.

2. Our Holy Father John the Seer.

He as a carpenter until the age of twenty-five, when, urged on by an unquenchable desire for constant prayer, he took himself off into the desert, where he lived until his death, that is, until the age of ninety. He lived in the body as one without a body. He could look into the heart of every person who came near him and could discover his name, and his thoughts and desires. He foretold the outcome of the Emperor Theodosius's battles to him; prophesied to nobles, to monks, to anyone at all who was in need, to uncover what was hidden from them in the darkness of future days. A certain prince asked him to receive his wife, who wished to see him. The holy man was not willing to satisfy empty curiosity, so he appeared in a dream to the prince's wife, and she saw him just as he was. And when the woman described her dream to her husband, he affirmed that such was the appearance of the holy man. He taught every visitor about humility, which is the basic virtue, and always drew his examples from life. He taught how pride makes war against a man of exalted character and brings him to dust and to terrible sins. He endured great assaults from evil spirits. Once Satan appeared to him with a great crowd of demons in the form of shining angels. They pressed him to bow down before Satan, lying to him and telling him that it was Christ. But he answered with great wisdom: 'Every day I bow down to Jesus Christ my King; if it were He, it would not be necessary for me to bow down to Him at this particular moment.' After these words, the evil forces disappeared like smoke. He died peacefully, kneeling in prayer, at the age of ninety.

3. Our Holy Father Paphnutius.

He was a disciple of St Antony the Great. The holiness of his life brought many sinners (for example, St Thais, Oct 8th) back to the path of repentance, for he was more like a bodiless angel than a carnal man. He entered into rest towards the end of the fourth century.

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