Prologue Search

1. The Finding and Translation of the Relics of St Stephen, the Archdeacon and Protomartyr.

When the wicked Jews stoned St Stephen to death, they left his body for the dogs to eat. But God's providence disposed otherwise. The martyr's body lay in an open place outside the town a night and two days, then, on the second night, Gamaliel, Paul's teacher and a secret follower of Christ, came and took his body to Caphargamala, and there buried it in a cave on his own land. Gamaliel buried his friend Nicodemus, who died lamenting over Stephen's grave, in the same cave. He also buried his godson Abibus there and, in accordance with his wishes, was buried there himself. Centuries passed, and no-one living knew the whereabouts of Stephen's grave. But in 415, in the time of Patriarch John of Jerusalem, Gamaliel appeared three times in a dream to a priest, Lucian, in Caphargamala, and told him in minute detail about the burial of all the above mentioned, indicating precisely the forgotten place of their burial. Moved by this dream, Lucian informed the Patriarch and, with his blessing, went with a group of men and dug up the four graves, Gamaliel having already told him in the dream which grave was which. A strong and fragrant odour from the relics of these saints filled the cave. St Stephen's relics were solemnly translated to Sion and there buried with ceremony, and the relics of the others were taken to a hill above the cave and laid to rest in a church there. Many hearings of the sick were performed in those days over the relics of St Stephen. Later, they were taken to Constantinople. Thus the Lord crowned with great glory him who first shed his blood for His name.

2. The Hieromartyr Stephen, Pope of Rome and others with him.

He was Pope in Rome from 254 to 257, and fought against the heretic Novatius. Healing Lucilla, the 'daughter of the tribune Nemesius, he baptised them both. He suffered in the time of Valerian with twelve of his priests, being beheaded during a celebration of the Liturgy.

3. Blessed Basil, the Fool for Christ of Moscow.

His father was called Jacob and his mother Anna. At the age of sixteen, he gave himself to the ascesis of folly for Christ, and persevered in that hard asceticism for seventy-two years, living to the age of eighty-eight. He went barefoot, bareheaded and in tatters, and had no settled shelter. He set sinners on the right way, reprimanded the nobles and had true insight into distant events. Suffering greatly from hunger, from cold and from the insults of men, Blessed Basil gave his holy soul to God. Tsar Ivan was at his funeral, with the Metropolitan. He was buried in the Moscow church of the Most Holy Mother of God, later re-named for him.

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