Prologue Search

1. The Holy Apostle Peter.

Today we commemorate the chains with Which Peter was shackled by the lawless Herod and which, when an angel appeared to him in prison, fell from him (Acts 12:7). The faithful kept these chains, both in memory of the great Apostle and also because of their healing power, for many of the sick were healed by touching them (as with the towel of the Apostle Paul: Acts 19:12). The Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Juvenal, made a gift of these chains to the Empress Eudocia, the exiled wife of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger. She divided them in half, sending one half to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and the other to her daughter, the Empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentian of Rome. This Eudoxia built the Church of St Peter and placed these chains in it, together with those in which Peter was shackled before his death under the Emperor Nero.

2. The Holy Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus and their grandmother Leonilla.

They suffered for Christ in France in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180). The three brothers were triplets. At first only Leonilla was a Christian, while her grandsons were pagans. After much exortation on the part of the pious Leonilla and a local priest, the three brothers were baptised. Being baptised, they began with youthful fervour to witness to their faith, and in their zeal went out and smashed all the idols in the area. Accused and brought before the judge, they acknowledged their action and openly confessed their faith in Christ. The judge threw them into prison, then summoned their grandmother and directed her to go to the prison and counsel her grandsons to deny Christ and worship idols. Leonilla went off without a word to the prison, but instead of advising her grandsons to deny the true Faith, she set about encouraging them not to give up, but to persevere to the end in all their sufferings and die for Christ. When the judge examined them again and saw their yet stronger steadfastness in the Faith, he condemned them to death. All three were first hanged on one tree, where they hung 'like the strings of a lute', and after that flogged and then finally burned. A woman, Jovilia, stirred by the courage of these martyrs, cried out: 'I too am a Christian!' They immediately seized her and beheaded her with a sword, together with the aged Leonilla.

3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Damascene of Gabrovo.

He lived in asceticism at Hilandar, where he became abbot. When he sought a debt due to the monastery from some Turks, they persuaded a Moslem woman to go into the house where Damascene lived. The Turks then came and found the woman, and dragged Damascene off before the judge. He was given the alternative: hanging or conversion to Islam, to which he replied decisively: 'It would be foolishness were I for temporal life to buy eternal peril.' He was hanged in 1771 in Svishtov. So Damascene sacrificed his life to save his soul. But his murderers immediately met God's punishment. They got into a boat to cross the Danube, but suddenly a storm capsized them and they drowned.

4. Our Holy Father Romil.

Born in Vidin, he was a disciple of St Gregory the Sinaite, and lived the ascetic life in several monasteries. St Romil entered into rest at Ravanica in Serbia in about 1375.

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