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1. The Seven Maccabees, their Mother Solomonia and Eleazar the Priest.

They all suffered for the purity of the Israelite faith under King Antiochus, called by some 'Epiphanes'- God manifest - and by others, 'Epimanes' - mad. For the great sins of Jerusalem, and especially for the wresting-away of the high-priestly power and the wickedness that ensued, the Lord let loose great calamity on the Holy City. Antiochus desired after that to bring the Jews to idolatry in place of their faith in the one, living God, and did all he could to this end. He was helped in his intention by several disaffected high priests and elders of Jerusalem. The king once came himself to Jerusalem and commanded that all Jews eat pork, which was against the Law of Moses and was therefore a recognisable sign of apostasy from the Jewish faith. The elder Eleazar, a priest and one of the seventy translators of the Old Testament into Greek, refused to eat pork. He was therefore tortured and burned. Returning to Antioch, the king took the seven young men, the Maccabees, and their mother Solomonia (II Macc. 6:18-7:41). The seven Maccabean brothers were called: Avim, Antonius, Eleazar, Gurius, Eusebon, Achim and Marcellus. Before their mother's eyes, the wicked king Tortured her sons one after the other, flaying the skin from their faces and then throwing them into the flames. They all endured torture and death with courage, remaining steadfast in their faith. Finally their mother, when she saw her three-year-old son in the fire, threw herself into the flames and perished, giving her soul into God's hands. They all suffered with honour for their faith in the one, living God in about 167 B.C.

2. The Procession of the Precious Cross.

This feast was established jointly by the Greeks and Russians in the time of the Greek Emperor Manuel and the Russian Prince Andrei, as a memorial of the simultaneous victories of the Russians over the Bulgars and the Greeks over the Saracens. In both battles, the soldiers carried crosses, from which a heavenly radiance shone forth, with the army. It was therefore instituted that, on August 1st, the Cross be carried from the Church of St Sophia, first around the interior of the church and then through the streets, to give the people the chance to venerate it, as a memorial of the miraculous help given by the Cross in earlier wars. This was not just any cross, but the true Precious Cross itself, which was kept in the church of the imperial court. On July 31st, the Precious Cross was taken from the imperial court to St Sophia's, and thence carried through the streets, to consecrate the earth and the air. Finally, on August 14th, it was taken back to the church in the imperial palace.

3. The Nine Holy Martyrs: Leontius, Attus, Alexander, Cindeus, Mnesitheus, Cyriacus, Menaeus, Catunus and Eucieus.

The first was a carpenter and the others workers on the land. For their bold confession of the Christian faith and for their destruction of the temple of Artemis, they were harshly tortured and beheaded in Perga of Pamphylia in the time of Diocletian, in about 300, and became inheritors of the Kingdom of Christ.

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