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1. The Holy Apostle Bartholomew.

He was one of the Twelve Great Apostles. It is generally agreed that Bartholomew and Nathaniel are one and the same person. He was a companion of the Apostle Philip and his sister, the virgin Mariamna - and for some time of St John the Theologian preaching the Gospel in Asia, then in India and finally in Armenia, where he died a martyr. In Hierapolis, the holy apostles by their prayers killed a great snake which had been kept in a temple and deified by the pagans. In this same town, they restored the sight of one Stachius, who had been blind for forty years. This roused the mob against them, and Philip and Bartholomew were crucified, Barthlomew upside down. At this there was an earthquake, in which the evil judges and many of the people perished. Seeing this as a punishment from God, many ran to take the apostles down from their crosses, but Philip was already dead although Bartholomew was still alive. After that, Bartholomew went to India, where he preached and translated the Gospel of Matthew into the Indian language. After that, he moved to Armenia, where he cured the king's daughter of madness. But the king's envious brother, Astyages, took the apostle of God and crucified him, then had him flayed and beheaded in the Armenian town of Ourbanopolis. His body was buried by Christians in a leaden coffin. When many miracles had been wrought over his relics, pagans took the coffin and threw it into the sea. But the sea carried the coffin to the island of Lipara, where the bishop, Agathon, who had been warned by revelation in a dream, was waiting for it and buried it in the church. St Bartholomew appeared to St Joseph the Hymnographer in church one day, robed in white, and blessed him with the Gospels to sing spiritual songs, saying: 'Let streams of heavenly wisdom flow from thy tongue!' He also appeared to the Emperor Anastasius (491-518), and told him that he would protect the newly-built town of Dara. Later, the relics of this apostle were translated to Benevento, and then to Rome. Great and wondrous miracles have been wrought over them.

2. The Holy Apostle Barnabas.

One of the Seventy, he was born in Cyprus, of wealthy parents of the tribe of Levi, and studied with Gamaliel together with Saul. He was first named Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas, Son of Consolation, because he had a rare gift for comforting men's souls. After Saul's conversion, Barnabas was the first to welcome him among the apostles. After that, with Paul and Mark, he preached the Gospel in Antioch and other places. All accounts agree that he was the first to preach in Rome and in Milan. He suffered at the hands of the Jews on the island of Cyprus and was buried by Mark at the western gate of the city of Salamis, holding a copy of the Gospel of Matthew which he had transcribed with his own hand. His grave remained unknown for several centuries, but when many people had been healed of sickness in that place, it became known as 'the place of healing'. In the time of the Emperor Zeno, the Apostle appeared three times, on three successive nights, to Archbishop Anthemius of Cyprus, and revealed the whereabouts of his grave. This revelation by the Apostle took place just at the time when Peter, the power-hungry Patriarch of Antioch, was seeking to bring the Cypriot Church under his jurisdiction. After the revealing and finding of the miraculous relics of the holy Apostle Barnabas, it was established that the Cypriot Church, as an apostolic foundation, should be independent, and thus the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus was finally confirmed.

3. The Feast of the Icon: 'It is meet...' and the miracle that was wrought in front of it in the time of Patriarch Nicolas Chrysoverges.

This miracle came about thus: One night a monk was reading the Canon of the Mother of God and singing: 'More honourable than the cherubim ...'in his cell in the monastery of the Pantocrator (now called after the icon). His elder had gone to Karyes. Suddenly a man appeared in the church and began to sing: 'It is meet a hymn which till that time had been unknown in the Church. The monk, hearing this hymn, was greatly struck both by the words and the heavenly singing. The stranger turned to the monk and said: 'We sing it like this at home.' The monk desired to have it written down, and brought a marble tablet, onto which the stranger wrote the hymn with r as though the tablet were made of wax, and then suddenly disappeared. This stranger was the Archangel Gabriel. The tablet was taken to Constantinople, and the hymn is sung to this day in the Church.

(For those who are not familiar with the text, it is as follows: 'It is meet to bless thee, who didst bring forth God; ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honourable than the cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the seraphim; thou who inviolate didst bring forth God the Word, and art indeed Mother of God, thee do we magnify.' -Translator.)


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