Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father Theodore the Sykeote.

His birthplace was the village of Sykeon in Galatia, because of which he was named 'the Sykeote'. While still a ten-year-old boy, Theodore gave himself to strict fasting and night-long vigils under the eye of an elder, Stephen, who lived in his house. His mother, Maria, was a rich widow and intended her son to devote himself to a soldier's calling. But St George appeared to her in her sleep and told her that Theodore was destined for the service, not of an earthly king, but of the King of heaven. St George also appeared to Theodore many times, either to instruct him or to save him from some danger in which the evil demons had placed him. He also had several visions of the most holy Mother of God. Theodore's asceticism exceeded in its severity the asceticism of all the other ascetics of his time. He tormented his body in hunger and thirst and iron girdles and standing all night in prayer. All this - only to link his soul in love to God and to achieve total mastery over his body. The merciful Lord's love responded to Theodore's love. He gave him great power over evil spirits and over all the ills and pains of men. He became known on all sides as a miraculous healer. For his great purity and devotion, he was chosen against his wishes as Bishop of Anastasioupolis. He spent eleven years in episcopal service, and then begged God to release him from this service in order to devote himself again to his beloved asceticism. After that, he returned to his monastery, where, in old age, he gave his soul to the Lord for whose sake he had undergone so much voluntary suffering. He died at the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, in about 613.

2. The Holy Martyr Leonidas.

The father of Origen, he suffered for Christ in Alexandria in 202. First, by imperial decree, all his goods were confiscated and then he was condemned to death. Origen wrote to his father in prison: 'Father, do not worry about us, and do not flee from martyrdom on our account.'

3. Our Holy Father, the Monk Vitalis.

In the time of Patriarch John the Merciful a young monk appeared, who, as soon as he arrived, compiled a list of all the prostitutes in Alexandria. His way of asceticism was exceptional and singular. During the day he hired himself out for the heaviest work, and at night he went into the brothels, gave the money he had earned to some prostitute and shut himself in her room with her for the whole night. As soon as he had shut the door, Vitalis begged the woman to lie down and sleep, while he spent the entire night in a corner of the room in prayer to God for that sinner. So he kept the sinner from sinning even for one night. The second night he would go to another, the third to another, and so on in order until he had gone through them all, then he went back to the one with whom he had started. By his counsel, many of these sinners left their foul calling; some married, others went to a monastery and others began some honest work for payment. All these women were forbidden by Vitalis to say why he came to them. As a result, he became a scandal to the whole of Alexandria. People reviled him in the streets, spat on him and buffeted him. But he bore it all patiently, revealing his good works to the Lord but concealing them from men. When he died, all became known about him. There began to be many miraculous hearings over his grave; people came from various places, bringing their sick to it. Spat on by men, he was and is glorified by the all-seeing God.

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