Prologue Search

1. The Hieromartyr Theodotus, Bishop of Cyrenia on the island of Cyprus.

He was chosen for his wisdom and virtue as bishop, and governed the Church of God with love and zeal. When a persecution of Christians arose in the time of the wicked Emperor Licinius, this man of God was taken before the judge and put to various tortures. When the torturer, Sabinus, urged him to deny Christ and worship pagan idols, Theodotus replied: 'If you knew the goodness of my God, who, it is my hope, will by these brief tortures make me worthy of eternal life, you would wish to suffer for Him as I do!' They hammered nails into his body, and he thanked God; then, believing that the end was near, he counselled and instructed the Christians that were around him. But, by the providence of God, there came at that moment an order from the Emperor Constantine to free all Christians who had been brought to trial for the sake of Christ. Then this saint also was freed, returned thus tortured to his see in Cyrenia and lived for a further two years. He then entered into rest in the Lord whom he had served faithfully and for whom he had suffered greatly. He finished his earthly course in 302, and went to the courts of the Lord.

2. The Holy Martyr Troadius.

He suffered for Christ as a young man. Gregory of Neocaesarea saw him in a vision, courageously enduring torture for Christ until he was murdered. And he saw his soul parting with joy from the body and hastening to heaven. St Troadius suffered and was glorified in the 3rd century.

3. The Four Hundred and Forty Martyrs of Lombardy in Italy.

Massacred in about 579, their deaths are recorded by Gregory the Dialogist. Forty of them were beheaded in one place and four hundred in another, all because they refused to eat food offered to idols, and the four hundred also because they refused to follow the custom of the Lombard pagans of dancing around a goat's head that had been brought to the demons for sacrifice.

4. Our Holy Father Agathon, a great Egyptian ascetic of the 5th century.

He was a contemporary of St Macarius and a disciple of St Lot. His care was to fulfill all the commandments of God. One of the brethren expressed his liking for a knife with which he had been cutting willow wands for baskets. The saint joyfully offered the knife to the brother as a gift. St Agathon also said: 'I would be content to be able to take on myself the body of a leper, and give him mine.' Is not that perfect love? (In the Greek Calendar, he is commemorated on Jan. 8th).

5. The Holy Martyr Euthalia.

This holy Euthalia was a Sicilian maiden and had a mother with the same name and a brother, Sermilianus. They were all pagans and unbaptised. The elder Euthalia became ill of an issue of blood. There appeared to her in a dream the holy martyrs Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyprinus (May 10th), and told her that she would be healed only if she were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Euthalia believed in Christ, was baptised and was healed. Seeing this marvel, her daughter also was baptised. Sermilianus began to mock his mother and sister for their Christian faith, then to threaten them. The mother fled from the house in fear. Then the brother began to persecute his sister. But she was unafraid, for Christ, was dearer to her than her brother, and she said to Sermilianus: 'I am a Christian, and have no fear of death.' The wicked brother sent a servant to her to violate her, but when the servant assaulted St Euthalia, he was stricken blind. The evil brother saw that wonder, but his heart remained obdurate. Like Cain, he hurried after his sister, grabbed hold of her and cut off her head. Thus was the holy virgin Euthalia crowned with a wreath of eternal glory. And thus in this ecample were fulfilled the words of Christ that He was bringing a sword among men which would divide those of one blood but not those of one faith (Matt. 10:34-35)


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