Prologue Search

1. The Holy Martyr Hyacinthus.

A young man, a courtier at the court of the Emperor Trajan, he was a secret Christian. Once, when the Emperor and all his court were offering sacrifice to idols, Hyacinthus stood apart from these abominable ceremonies. He was therefore denounced and brought to trial before the Emperor. The Emperor urged him to deny Christ and sacrifice to idols, but Hyacinthus remained firm as diamond and said to the Emperor: 'I am a Christian. I revere Christ and worship Him, and I bring my living self to Him as a sacrifice.' Whipped, spat upon and flayed, this holy martyr was flung into prison. By order of the Emperor, he was given nothing to eat but food that had been sacrificed to idols. Hyacinthus would not eat this, and died in prison after eight days. The warder saw two shining angels in the prison, one covering the martyr's body with his own glorious vesture and the other placing a wreath of glory on his head; and the whole prison was filled with light and radiance. The young Hyacinthus suffered with honour and was crowned with a wreath of glory in the year 108.

2. St Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople.

He was at first a priest in Alexandria, but, after the death of Patriarch Flavian in 449, he was elevated to the patriarchal throne in Constantinople. In his time, the throne of Constantinople was declared to be equal with that of Rome, at the Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451. He strove mightily for the purity of the Orthodox faith, suffered much at the hands of heretics and was in the end killed by them in 458, in the reign of Leo the Great. He governed the Church for nearly nine years, and went to join the holy hierarchs in the Kingdom of God.

3. Our Holy Father Alexander.

Born in Asia and educated in Constantinople, he went into the army after completing his studies and became an officer. Reading the Holy Scriptures, he came upon the Saviour's words: 'If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me' (Matt. 19:21).These words made such an impression on him that he sold and gave away all that he had, and went off to the desert. After long asceticism and striving for purification, he founded the community of the 'Wakeful Ones' (Acoemetae) with a special rule. According to this rule, the services in the church continued day and night in unbroken sequence. The brethren were divided into six groups, each having its appointed hours of day or night to go to church and take over the reading and singing from the previous group. He travelled a great deal all over the East, bringing people to faith in Christ, disputing with heretics, working miracles by God's grace and growing old in the service of the Lord Jesus. He finished his earthly course in Constantinople in the year 430, where his relics revealed the miraculous power and glory with which God had glorified His holy servant.

4. Our Holy Father Isaiah the Solitary.

He lived in asceticism at Scetis in Egypt and then in Palestine, dying in Gaza in about 491. He is mentioned in Barsanuphius and John's book as a man of outstanding holiness (Answers: 240, 252, 311 etc.). He wrote much that was instructive for monks and solitaries, but few of his writings are extant, the majority having been destroyed by Moslems. St Isaiah said: 'The mind, before it awakens from the sleep of laziness, is with the demons.' 'The crown of all good works consists in this: that a man place all his hope in God, that he flee to Him once and for all with all his heart and strength, that he be filled with compassion for all and weep before God, imploring His help and mercy.' What is the sign that a man's sin is forgiven? 'The sign that a sin is forgiven is that the sin has no further action in your heart, and that you have so utterly forgotten it that, in speaking of such a sin, you feel no inclination to it but regard it as something totally outside you. That is the sign that you are forgiven.' Prayer and asceticism are useless to a man who conceals within himself malice towards his neighbour and the desire for revenge. 'Watch with all your strength that your mouth does not speak one thing and your heart contain something quite different.' 'The crown of good works is love; the crown of the passions is the justifying of one's sins.


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