Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father Athanasius the Athonite.

Born in Trebizond of God-fearing parents, he was early left destitute, but, by the providence of God, a high-ranking army officer took him, removed him to Constantinople and had him educated there. He was beloved by all his contemporaries for his meekness and humility. In their childish games, they appointed one of themselves to be Emperor, another Commander and so forth. Athanasius was always chosen Abbot, as if in prophecy. Finishing his schooling, Athanasius (called Abraham until his tonsuring) retired to Mount Kyminas in Bithynia, where he lived in asceticism as a disciple of the famous Michael Maleinos. Desiring yet stricter asceticism, he moved to the Holy Mountain, to live in silence. Many, desirous of the ascetic life, began to gather round him and he was constrained to build the famous Lavra. The Byzantine Emperors gave him generous help in this, especially Nicephorus Phocas, who himself had the intention of retiring and becoming a monk. Later, John Tzimiskes also gave him great help. Manifold temptations were visited upon Athanasius, from demons and from men, but he, as a valiant soldier of Christ, resisted and overcame them all by his immense humility and unceasing prayer to the living God. Filled with the grace of God, he was found worthy to behold the most holy Mother of God, who miraculously brought forth water from a rock and promised him that she would evermore be the abbess of his monastery. Athanasius surpassed his brethren in work and in prayer, and loved them all with the love of a spiritual father and shepherd. Death came to him suddenly. He, together with six of his monks, had climbed up onto a newly-constructed part of the church to inspect a wall that was in building when the wall fell in and buried them all. So died this great light of monasticism in 1003. He appeared a number of times to his brethren after his death, to console or rebuke them.

2. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Cyprian the New.

Born in the village of Klitzos in Epirus, Cyprian went off to the Holy Mountain after the death of his devout parents. He became a monk there and gave himself to asceticism in a cell near the monastery of Koutloumousion. He heaped labour upon labour on himself, asceticism upon asceticism, until he became known and respected all over the Holy Mountain. But he was not satisfied. He was tormented by the thought that he could not be saved but by martyrdom for Christ. He therefore left the Holy Mountain and went to Salonica, appeared before the Pasha of Salonica and urged him to discard the false, Mohammedan faith and receive the true Faith of Christ. The Pasha ordered that he be whipped and driven out of the city. Dissatisfied with such little suffering for Christ, Cyprian went to Constantinople and wrote a letter to the Grand Vizier in which he set down the falseness of Mahomet and the truth of Christ the Lord. The enraged Vizier sent him to Sheik ul-Islam, and the latter heard all that Cyprian had to say, then ordered that he be beheaded. Cyprian was filled with joy beyond measure, and went to the scaffold as to his wedding. Thus this godly man suffered for Christ on July 5th, 1679, and fulfilled his strong desire.

3. Our Holy Father Lampadus.

Loving Christ with a strong love from childhood, Lampadus withdrew to the desert near Irenopolis, where he gave himself to asceticism. Having overcome all passions and fleshly desires, his soul was made resplendent with heavenly light and an inexpressible peace not of this world. He was a wonderworker both in his lifetime and after his death. He lived the monastic life probably in the 10th century.

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