Prologue Search

1. The Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius.

These two wonderful men were martyred for the name of Christ in the time of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were harshly beaten, and then burned in iron coffins, and after that tied to horses' tails and dragged over stones and thistles. They were thus broken to pieces and gave their holy souls into God's hands. Their relics were buried in Pentapolis.

2. Our Holy Father John the Dwarf (Kolobos).

He is counted among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. 'Kolobos' means 'little' or 'dwarf, for he was little of stature. He came to Scetis with his brother Daniel, and, with surpassing zeal, gave himself to asceticism, such that his brother had to urge him to moderation. He was a disciple of St Pambo, and later the teacher of St Arsenius the Great. One of his fellow-disciples with St Pambo was St Paisius the Great. One day, when he was in conversation with St Paisius about what sort of asceticism to adopt, an angel of God appeared to them, and ordered John to stay where he was and gather companions, and Paisius to go into the desert and live as a solitary. To test John's obedience, Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick that he had stuck in the ground until it bore leaves. With no hesitation or doubt, John watered this dry stick for three whole years, from day to day, until, by God's power, it put forth leaves and bore fruit. Then Pambo gathered the fruits from this tree, took them to the church and shared them out among the brethren, saying: 'Come and taste of the fruits of obedience!' John the Dwarf had many disciples, and some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered peacefully into rest and the joy of his Lord early in the fifth century.

3. Our Holy Mother Matrona of Constantinople.

She was from Perga in Pamphylia. Quickly finding marriage to Dometian, a Constantinopolitan nobleman, unbearable, she fled, dressed herself in men's clothing and, under the name of Babylas, went to the monastery of St Bassian in Constantinople. As her husband searched for her unremittingly, she was forced to move constantly from place to place: Emesa, Sinai, Jerusalem, Beirut, finally returning to Constantinople. She received the monastic habit at the age of twenty-five, and lived in asceticism for seventy-five years. Living a hundred years in all, she died peacefully as abbess of a monastery in Constantinople, and entered into the joy of her Lord in the year 492.

4. Our Holy Father Euthymius of Docheiariou, and his disciple Neophytus.

They were Serbs by descent and kinsmen of high-ranking aristocrats in Byzantium. Euthymius was a friend of St Athanasius and his steward Laurus, and later founded the monastery of Docheiariou. He entered peacefully into rest in 990. His nephew Neophytus succeeded his uncle as abbot of Docheiariou, increasing the number of brethren and building a great church. He entered into rest at the beginning of the eleventh century.

5. St Simeon Metaphrastes.

A gifted Constantinopolitan, he had both worldly and spiritual learning. He became the Emperor's chief administrator, and the first among the nobles at court. But he lived a life pure and unstained, as a true ascetic. He was distinguished by a rare military courage and diplomatic wisdom, and was for this greatly valued by the Emperor Leo the Wise, who once sent him to Crete to make peace terms with the Arabs, who had at that time seized the island. Succeeding in this mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon withdrew from the world and all secular occupation. He wrote lives of the saints, adding 122 new 'biographies' and correcting 539 others. He entered into rest in about 960, and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his body.

6. Our Holy Mother Theoctista of Paros.

She was born on the island of Lesbos, and became a nun at the age of seventeen. Savage Saracens descended on the island and enslaved all who fell into their hands, including Theoctista and her sister. When the Saracens carried the slaves off to the bazaar on the island of Paros, Theoctista escaped from the crowd and hid herself. She hid in an abandoned church in the middle of the island, where she lived in asceticism for thirty- five years. She entered into rest in 881.

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