Prologue Search

1. The Holy Martyr Conon of Isauria.

Conon was instructed in the Christian faith and baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity by the Archangel Michael himself, and he was accompanied by this archangel of God right up to his death. He was so enlightened and fortified by grace of the Holy Spirit, so that his heart was kept from all things earthly and clave to the spiritual and heavenly. When his parents forced him to marry, he, on the first evening, took a candle and put it inder a vessel, then asked his bride: 'Which is better, light or darkness?' She answered: 'Light', and he then began to speak to her of the Christian faith, and of the spiritual life as better and finer than the physical. He succeeded in bringing first her and then his parents to the Christian faith, and he and his wife lived as brother and sister. His wife and parents soon died, and he withdrew himself entirely from the world and gave himself to prayer, fasting and pondering on God. He performed great wonders, which brought many to Christianity. Among other wonders, evil spirits were forced to serve him. During a persecution he was arrested and tortured, and stabbed all over with knives. The sick anointed themselves with his blood and were healed. He lived for two further years in his own town, and went to the Lord. This wonderful saint lived and suffered in the second century.

2. The Holy Martyr Conon the Gardener.

From Nazareth, he was mild and virtuous, and pleasing to God in all things. During the persecution under Decius, he was tortured for Christ, but he remained firm in the Faith, and sharply denounced the judges for their folly. With nails through his legs, this good and virtuous saint was bound behind the prince's chariot and was dragged on and on, until he was utterly spent. Then he made his last prayer to God and gave his soul into His keeping, in 251.

3. Our Holy Father Hesychius the Faster.

He was born near Bursa in the eighth century, but withdrew to a mountain called the hill of Maion, a place with an evil reputation for diabolical apparitions. He built himself a hut there, and a church dedicated to St Andrew, and also made himself a garden which he cultivated in order to live by his own toil. Miracles were worked through his prayers. He foretold that there would be a women's monastery in that place after his death. A month before he died, he foretold the day and hour of his death, and at midnight on the day foretold, people saw his hut illumined with an unusual light, and, when they came to it, they found him dead. He was buried in the church of St Andrew, but later Theophylact, the bishop of Amasea, took him to the town of Amasea. He departed this life peacefully and went to the Kingdom of his God in 790. (In the Greek Synaxarion, he is commemorated on March 6th.)

4. Our Holy Father Mark the Ascetic.

An ascetic and wonderworker, he was made a monk at the age of forty by his teacher, St John Chrysostom. Mark spent sixty more years in the Nitrian desert in fasting, prayer and the writing of instructive books. He knew the whole of the Holy Scriptures by heart. He was very merciful, and wept for the distress of any one of God's creature. He was once weeping for the blind whelp of a hyena when the whelp received its sight. In gratitude, the mother hyena brought him a sheepskin, and the saint forbade the hyena in future to slaughter the sheep of poor people. He received communion at the hands of an angel. His homilies on the spiritual law, on repentance, on sobriety and so forth fall into the first rank of ecclesiastical literature; the great Patriarch Photius himself held them in high esteem.

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