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1. The Twelve Holy Martyrs who suffered in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.

The first of these, Pamphilus, was priest in the church at Caesarea in Palestine; a learned and devout man, he corrected the mistakes of various copiers in the text of the New Testament. He himself copied this saving Book and gave it to any who desired it. The second was a deacon, Valentine, old in years and white with wisdom. He was a great expert in the Holy Scriptures, knowing them by heart. The third was Paul, a respected and eminent man, who had on a previous occasion been cast into the fire for the sake of Christ. With them were five Egyptians, brothers both in blood and soul, who were returning to their native land from serving a sentence in the mines of Cilicia. As they reached the gate of the town of Caesarea they said that they were Christians, and were therefore brought to trial. When asked their names, they replied: 'We have cast away the pagan names given us by our mother, and are called Elias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel and Daniel.' When asked where they were from, they replied: 'From Jerusalem that is above.' They were all beheaded, and a young man called Porphyrius, who had searched for their bodies to give them burial, suffered soon afterwards. Him they burned. An officer, Seleucus, who had come up to the martyrs and embraced them before the sword descended on their heads, was also burned, and an old man, Theodulus, a servant of the Roman judge, who had embraced one of the martyrs while they were under escort. Lastly Julian, who had kissed the dead bodies of the martyrs and honoured them, followed them in death. So they exchanged the small for the great, the tawdry for the precious and death for immortality, and went to the Lord in 308.

2. St Maruthas.

Bishop of the town of Tagrith in Mesopotamia, he was famed for his faith and goodness. Maruthas calmed the wrath of the Persian King Yezdegeherd against the Christians, begged from him the relics of the 400 martyrs in Persia and founded a town, Martyropolis, where he placed these holy relics. He finished his earthly course in this town in 422 and went to the Lord.

3. Our Holy Father the Martyr Romanus.

Romanus was a simple and illiterate villager from Carpenesion. Leaming of the heroism and the glory of the martyrs of Christ, the young Romanus yearned for martyrdom himself. He went to Salonica, where he began to extol the Christian faith in the streets, and to call Mahomet a writer of fables. The Turks tortured him terribly, then handed him over to a galley-captain. Christians rescued him from the galley and sent him to the Holy Mountain, where Romanus became a monk under the famous Starets Acacius. But he still yearned for martyrdom for the sake of Christ. With the blessing of his starets, he went to Constantinople, pretended to be a fool and began to lead a dog about the streets. When asked why, Romanus replied that he fed that dog as Christians fed Turks. The Turks threw him into a dry well, where he lived without bread for forty days. They then took him out and executed him. Light streamed from his body for three days, after which an Englishman took it to England. But a monk soaked a towel in his blood, and that towel is kept to this day in the monastery of Docheiariou. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered in 1694.

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