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1. The Holy and Great Martyr Katharine.

The daughter of King Constus, she lived with her mother in Alexandria after her father's death. Her mother was secretly a Christian and, through her spiritual father, brought Katharine to the Christian faith. In a vision, St Katharine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger to this day. Katharine was greatly gifted by God, exceptionally well-educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic, and added great physical beauty to this. When the wicked Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifice to idols and ordered everyone to do the same, St Katharine came with daring before him and denounced his idolatrous errors. The Emperor, seeing that she surpassed him in wisdom and leaming, summoned fifty of the wisest men, to dispute with her about faith and put her to shame, but Katharine was wiser than they, and put them to shame. The furious Emperor commanded that all fifty wise men be burned. These wise men, at St Katharine's prayers, all confessed the name of Christ at the moment of death, and proclaimed themselves Christians. When the martyr was in prison, she brought Porphyrius the general, with two hundred of his soldiers, to the Faith, and also the Empress, Augusta-Vasilissa. They all suffered for Christ. At St Katharine's martyrdom, an angel of God appeared to her, stopping and breaking the wheel on which she was being tortured, and after that the Lord Christ Himself appeared to her, strengthening her. After many tortures, Katharine was beheaded with the sword at the age of eighteen, on November 24th, 310. Milk flowed from her body in place of blood. Her wonderworking relics are preserved on Sinai.

2. The Holy and Great Martyr Mercurius.

When the Emperor Decius was once making war on the barbarians, there was in the army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martesians. This commander was called Mercurius. In the battle, an angel of God appeared to Mercurius, put a sword in his hand and told him that he would overcome the enemy. Mercurius displayed a wonderful courage, mowing the enemy down like grass with his sword. After this glorious victory, the Emperor made him supreme commander of his army, but some jealous men denounced him to the Emperor as a Christian. Mercurius did not deny this before the Emperor, but openly acknowledged it. He was most terribly tortured: cut with knives in strips and burned in a furnace, but an angel of God appeared in the prison and healed him. Finally the Emperor pronounced the sentence that General Mercurius be beheaded with the sword in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow, and from it there arose a wonderful, incense-like fragrance. Many of the sick were healed by his wonderworking relics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith some time between 251 and 259.

3. The Holy Maiden Mastridia.

She lived in Alexandria and led a solitary life of prayer and handwork. A young man became consumed with lustful passion towards her, and pestered her incessantly. Determined not to sin against God, and seeing that it would not be easy to shake off this dissolute youth, St Mastridia once asked him what it was in her that most attracted him. He replied: 'Your eyes!', and Mastridia took the needle with which she was sewing and put out her eyes. Thus she preserved her own peace and the young man's soul, who repented deeply and became a monk.

Author's note: This Mastridia is apparently not the same as the one who is commemorated on February 7th. The latter is from Jerusalem, while this one is from Alexandria. The latter fled from scandal to the desert, and this one put out her eyes.


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