Prologue Search

1. The Holy Emperor Constantine and the Empress Helena.

Constantine's parents were the Emperor Constantius Chlorus and the Empress Helena. Chlorus had further children by another wife, but by Helena he had only the one, Constantine. Constantine fought two great battles when he came to the throne: one against Maxentius, a tyrant in Rome, and the other against Licinius not far from Byzantium. At the battle against Maxentius, when Constantine was in great anxiety and uncertainty about his chances of success, a shining cross, surrounded by stars, appeared to him in the sky in full daylight. On the cross were written the words: 'In this sign, conquer!' The wondering Emperor ordered that a great cross be put together, like the one that had appeared, and be carried before the army. By the power of the Cross, he gained a glorious victory over enemies greatly superior in number. Maxentius drowned himself in the Tiber. Immediately after this, Constantine issued the famous Edict of Milan, in 313, to put an end to the persecution of Christians. Conquering Byzantium, he built a beautiful capital city on the Bosphorus, which from that time was named Constantinople.

At this time, Constantine fell ill with leprosy. The pagan priests and doctors advised him to bathe in the blood of slaughtered children, which he refused to do. Then the Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him and told him to seek out a bishop, Sylvester, who would heal him of the disease. The bishop instructed him in the Christian faith and baptised him, and the leprosy vanished from the Emperor's body.

When there was discord in the Church about the troublesome heretic Arius, the Emperor summoned the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, in 325, where the heresy was condemned and Orthodoxy confirmed.

St Helena, the Emperor's devout mother, was very zealous for the Christian faith. She visited Jerusalem and found the Precious Cross of the Lord, and built the Church of the Resurrection over Golgotha and many other churches in the Holy Land. This holy woman went to the Lord in 327, at the age of eighty. The Emperor Constantine outlived his mother by ten years and entered into rest at the age of about sixty in 337, in the city of Nicomedia. His body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

2. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Pachomius.

Born in Little Russia, he was taken by the Tartars as a boy and sold to a Turkish tanner as a slave. He spent twenty-seven years in slavery in Usaki in Asia Minor, and was forced to embrace Islam. He went off to the Holy Mountain, became a monk and spent twelve years near the monastery of St Paul. He resolved to suffer for Christ. His spiritual elder, Joseph, sent him off to Usaki, where he showed himself to his former owner as a Christian, wearing his monastic habit. The Turks gave him over to torture, then threw him into prison and finally beheaded him on May 8th, 1730, on Ascension Day. Many miracles were wrought by his blood and his relics, his body being buried on the island of Patmos in the Church of St John the Theologian. Thus this villager from Little Russia became a martyr and wears the wreath in the Kingdom of Christ.


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