Prologue Search

1. The Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope.

He exercised himself from his youth in all the Christian virtues. As bishop in his birthplace, the town of Sinope on the shore of the Black Sea, he strengthened the devout in their faith by his divine example and words, and brought many idol-worshippers to the true Faith. The stony-hearted pagans were filled with wrath against holy Phocas, and the Lord foreshowed to him in a vision his death by martyrdom. Phocas saw a shining dove fly down from heaven, carrying in its beak a beautiful wreath of flowers which it laid on his head, and a voice came from the dove: 'My cup is full, and it is for thee to drink it!' From this vision, the man of God learned that he must very soon suffer for Christ. He was not afraid, but, with thanksgiving to God, prepared himself for torture. Soon after this, the Governor, Africanus, took Phocas for interrogation and inflicted harsh tortures upon him: his whole body was beaten black and blue and torn with wounds, and, after imprisonment, he was thrown into boiling water, in which this courageous soldier of Christ finished his earthly course and entered into the joy of his Lord. He suffered in the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117).

2. The Holy Prophet Jonah.

He lived more than eight hundred years before Christ. It is said that he was the widow's son of Zarephath in Sidon, whom the Prophet Elias raised from the dead. By his three-day sojourn in the belly of the whale, St Jonah foreshadowed the three-day sojourn of Christ in the tomb, and, by his deliverance from the whale's belly, the Lord's Resurrection from the dead. Everything else about this wonderful prophet is there to be read in the Book of Jonah.

3. The Holy Martyr Phocas the Gardener.

A compatriot of the hieromartyr Phocas, he had a garden in Sinope, near the Black Sea, which he cultivated himself. He refreshed all the passersby with the fruits of his garden, not neglecting to entertain their ears with the Word of God. But the governor, who was a persecutor of Christians, heard of him and sent soldiers to kill him. Phocas welcomed the soldiers so warmly that they held back from killing him, but, at his beseeching, carried out their orders and beheaded him. In that place, a church dedicated to him was soon built over his relics. St Phocas is especially venerated by seamen, and is invoked for aid by all who travel by sea. He suffered in 320.

4. Our Holy Father Cosmas of Zographou.

He was of a noble Bulgarian family. When his parents wanted him to marry, he fled to the Holy Mountain. He was a solitary and a wonderworker, living in asceticism in a cave near the monastery of Zographou, and was the greatest ascetic and wonderworker of that monastery. The Mother of God appeared to him several times. The cell in which Cosmas lived in silent asceticism and wrestled with demons remains to this day to the north-west of the monastery. Being gifted with discernment, he could see in the spirit, and described happenings in far-off times and places. He died in old age, on September 22nd, 1323, and, after a life of much toil, entered into the joy of his Lord.

5. St Peter the Merciful.

A man of God of the sixth century (see the passage for consideration below).

6. The Holy Priest Jonah.

The father of St Theophanes the writer of Canons, and of St Theodore the Scribe, he was a wonderworker. He died in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified in the ninth century.


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