Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father John.

He was a disciple of St Gregory of Decapolis. In the time of the iconoclast heresy, the Emperor Leo the Armenian put John to torture, together with his teacher, Gregory, and Joseph the Hymnographer. When Gregory finished his earthly course, John became abbot of the Decapolite monastery in Constantinople. Becoming abbot, he intensified his asceticism for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He died peacefully in about 820. After his death, St Joseph buried him near the grave of St Gregory.

2. The Holy Martyr John the New of Ioannina.

He was born in Ioannina, the ancient capital of King Pyrrhus. When his poor parents died, the young John went to Constantinople and there continued his trade, for he was a craftsman. The Turks had occupied Constantinople not long before this, and many Christians had, out of fear, denied Christ and accepted Islam. St John had his workshop right in the midst of these men who had become Turks. The more inflamed St John became with love for Christ, the more outwardly apparent this became to these apostates. He began to dispute with them about the Faith, and to reprimand them for their betrayal of Christ. They dragged him before the judge and falsely accused him of having earlier accepted Islam and having returned to Christianity. For this he was tortured - beaten and flogged with iron flails - and then cast into prison. On the second day, which was Easter Day, they brought him out for further torture, and John emerged full of joy and singing: 'Christ is risen from the dead!' He spoke courageously to his torturers, saying: 'Do what you will to me, and send me as quickly as possible from this transient life into life eternal. I am Christ's servant; I follow Christ, and I die for Christ that I may live with Him!' After that, John was bound in chains and taken to the place of burning. Seeing the great flames prepared for him, John ran forward and leapt into them. But his torturers, seeing how he sought death in the fire, pulled him out of it and sentenced him to be beheaded. When they had cut off his head, they threw it and his body into the fire. Later, Christians gathered the ashes and some of his precious and wonderworking relics and buried them in the Great Church in Constantinople. Thus he died a martyr's death and received the glorious wreath of martyrdom on April 18th, 1526.

3. The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Zeno, Acyndius and Severian.

They were all martyred under the Emperor Diocletian. They were pagans until they witnessed the martyrdom of St George the Great Martyr. Then, seeing the sufferings and courage of this glorious martyr and the many miracles that were wrought at that time, they embraced the Christian faith. For this Faith they soon suffered, and were crowned with glory.

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