Prologue Search

1. The Hieromartyr Athenogenes, Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia.

He lived in a monastery near the town with ten of his disciples. In the time of Diocletian, a fierce persecutor of Christians called Philomarchus came to Sebaste. He arrested and killed many of the Christians in the town. When he saw Athenogenes and his disciples, he told the elder to sacrifice to idols, that they should not perish as had the other Christians. Athenogenes replied: 'O Torturer, those whom you describe as having perished have not perished, but are in heaven and make merry with the angels!' There was a touching moment when a deer, which had been hand-fed by the compassionate Athenogenes, ran up to him, and, seeing him in such straits, shed tears. Wild animals of the hills had more pity on the martyrs than did the pagans! After harsh torture, during which an angel of God comforted them, they were all beheaded, first the priests and fellow-workers of Athenogenes and then Athenogenes himself, and went to their heavenly home in the year 311.

2. The Holy Martyr Julia the Virgin.

She was born in Carthage of noble parents. When the Persians overran Carthage, many of the people were taken into slavery. St Julia was one of these, and was given to a Syrian merchant, who was a pagan. Seeing that Julia was a Christian, he urged her many times to deny Christ and become of one faith with him, but Julia steadfastly refused. As Julia was faithful and reliable in her work, the merchant left her in peace and spoke no more about faith. One day, the merchant loaded his ship with goods, took Julia with him and set off across the sea to a distant land to ply his trade. When they arrived at Corsica, there was a pagan festival in progress, and the merchant took part in the foul idolatry while Julia remained in the ship, weeping that so many people lived in foolish error, not knowing the truth. The pagans somehow came to know about her, dragged her off the ship in spite of her owner's efforts to prevent them, and began to torture her in terrible ways. They cut off her brests and threw her onto the rock, then crucified her, at which Julia gave her soul to God. Her death was revealed to some monks on the nearby island of Margarita (or Gorgona), and they went and buried the martyr's body. Many miracles were worked over St Julia's grave through the ages, and she herself appeared to various people from the other world. She suffered with honour and went to the Kingdom of God in the sixth century.

After many years had passed, the faithful wanted to build a new church in honour of St Julia in another place, because the old church was small and dilapidated. They prepared the materials: the stone, bricks, sand and everything else that was needed, on the new site. But it happened that, at night, on the night before the day on which the foundations were to be laid, that the materials were carried by invisible hands back to the old church. In great perplexity, the people carried them to the new site again, but again the same thing happened: the materials were taken to the old site and left beside the church. The nightwatchman saw a maiden bathed in light, using white oxen to carry the materials to the old church. By this, they understood that St Julia did not wish her church to be built in another place, so they pulled down the old church and built the new one on the same spot.

3. The Fifteen Hundred Holy Martyrs of Persia.

They were beheaded for the Christian faith in Persia.

4. The Holy Martyr Athenogenes.

The composer of the vespers hymn: 'O gentle Light', he perished for Christ in the flames and was made worthy of eternal glory in the kingdom of God.

5. Commemoration of the Six Ecumenical Councils.

This common commemoration of the first six Ecumenical Councils is held on the Sunday between July 13th and 19th.

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