1. Our Holy Mother Melanie the Roman.
Born in Rome of devout and very wealthy parents, she was forced by them to marry a young nobleman, Pinian. She was taken very seriously ill in giving birth to her second child, and told her husband that she would be healed only if he vowed before God to live with her in future as brother and sister. Her husband agreed and Melanie, in her deep joy, was healed. When it pleased God to take both children to Himself, they agreed to sell all their possessions and give the proceeds to the destitute, the Church and the monasteries. They travelled through many lands and cities, everywhere doing good works. They visited famous spiritual guides in Upper and Lower Egypt, and received much instruction and inspiration from them. During all that time, Melanie lived in strict fasting, fervent prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures. She followed the practice of reading the Scriptures right through, the Old and New Testaments, every three years, living with her husband as with a brother and fellow-ascetic. Going to Alexandria, they received the blessing of the Patriarch, St Cyril. After that, they went to Jerusalem and settled on the Mount of Olives. There Melanie became an anchoress, and gave herself completely to pondering, fasting and prayer. She lived thus for fourteen years, after which she came out, to help others to salvation, and founded monasteries for men and women. At the invitation of her kinsman, the senator Volusianus, a pagan, she went to Constantinople and brought him to the Christian faith (something that Blessed Augustine, whom Volusianus knew, had been unable to do).She then returned to the Mount of Olives, where she went to God in 438, at the age of fifty-seven.
2. Holy and Righteous Joseph, King David and James the Lord's Brother.
They are commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Christ. One can learn all about King David, the son of Jesse, from the Book of Kings, and for holy James see October 23rd. Righteous Joseph is so named in the Gospel (Matt. 1:19), and for this, God entrusted the most holy Virgin to his protection and gave him great honour in the economy of human salvation. Although Joseph was of the royal lineage of David, he himself was a simple carpenter in Nazareth. He took the most holy Virgin from the Temple into his home at the age of eighty, and entered into rest at the age of a hundred and ten.
3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Zoticus, Protector of the Poor.
He was eminent both of birth and rank. He moved to Constantinople, cast off all worldly things and received ordination to the priesthood, founding a home for the poor, containing a place for the treatment of infectious diseases, and ministering to those cared for in it. He was a close acquaintance of the Emperor Constantine the Great. In retaliation for the gold that Zoticus had had from him for his plague-victims, Constantine's son Constantius tied him behind a wild ass, which was driven about until he died of his wounds. He suffered in the fourth century.
4. Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid.
Born on the island of Euboea, and educated in Constantinople by the most eminent teachers of his day, he became a priest in the Great Church. He was chosen as bishop, and sent, against his will, to Ochrid, where he spent about twenty-five years (from about 1082 to 1108). Chomatianus of Ochrid calls him 'the wisest archbishop'. He was a man of enormous learning, both secular and theological, of refined Byzantine tastes, and was by nature melancholy and sensitive. 'Meophylact felt himself among the Slavs of Ochrid like an exile among barbarians. He wrote commentaries an the Four Gospels and on other books of the New Testament. These are the finest works of their sort after St John Chrysostom, and ate read to this day with great benefit. Of his other works, we know of his Letters, and a Life of St Clenet of Ochrid. In old age, Theophylact withdrew from Ochrid to Salonica, and finishing his earthly course, went to the blessedness of eternity.