Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father Paul of Thebes.

Born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt in the reign of the Emperor Decius, he and a sister of his together inherited all their parents' property. But his brother-,in-law, an idol-worshipper, plotted to seize Paul's half of the inheritance. He therefore threatened Paul that he would betray him to the authorities as a Christian if he did not hand over his share of the property. This misfortune, coupled with the examples of self-sacrifice by the Christian martyrs that Paul saw with his own eyes, induced him to give his half of the property to his sister and go of into the desert, where he lived in asceticism until his death. The spiritual heights attained by this giant of a monk are testified to by no less a person than St Antony the Great, who once visited Paul and saw how the wild animals and birds of the air ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Antony said to his monks: 'Woe is me, my children, a sinful and false monk, who am a monk in name only. I have seen Elias, I have seen John in the desert, and I have seen Paul - in Paradise!' St Paul lived 113 years, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 342.

2. Our Holy Father John (The Hut-Dweller).

He was born in Constantinople in the early part of the 5th century, of rich and eminent parents whose only child he was. Drawn by inclination to the spiritual life, the young John fled with a monk to a monastery in Asia Minor. He spent six years in this monastery in the greatest restraint, prayer and obedience to the superior. Then the devil attacked him with the temptation to leave the monastery and return to his parents, to live with them as a nobleman. He indeed returned to his parents' home, but dressed as a beggar. He saw his parents, but, not wishing to reveal himself to them as their son, remained as a beggar in their courtyard, living off the crumbs that the servants threw him and enduring much ridicule from all. He lived thus for three years, praying God that He would save the souls of his father and mother. When he fell ill and felt death approaching, he revealed himself to his parents. They recognised him by a precious Gospel-book which they had given him in childhood and which he had kept with him as his sole possession. And so this young man, albeit so rich, saved his soul and those of his parents, overcame the devil and entered into rest in the Lord in about the year 450.

3. Our Holy Father Gabriel of Lesnov.

A Slav and a friend of St Prochorus of Pchinja and St John of Rila, he lived a life of asceticism in the 10th century at Kratov on the mountain of Lesnov, where he built a church to the Archangel Michael. He was a wonder-worker both during his life-time and after his death. The present beautiful church in this place was built by King Dugan's commander-in-chief, Jovan Oliver. St Gabriel entered into rest in the Lord at the end of the tenth century.

4. The Holy Martyr Pansophius.

The son of the Alexandrian proconsul, Nilus, he laid aside worldly honour and riches as a young man and embraced the monastic state. He lived in great asceticism for 27 years, lifting up his soul to the higher world. In the reign of Decius, he was dragged before the judge, where he was flogged for the name of Christ until, under great torture, he delivered his soul to God.

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