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1. Our Holy Father Moses the Negro.

An Ethiopian, he was at first a robber and the leader of a robber band, but he then became a penitent and a great ascetic. As a slave, Moses escaped from his owner and became a robber. Because of his great physical strength and recklessness, the robbers chose him as their leader. Suddenly his conscience was filled with remorse and repentance for the crimes he had committed. He left the band, went to a monastery and gave himself entirely to obedience to his spiritual father and to the rule of the monastery. He made great use of the teaching of Saints Macarius, Arsenius and Isidore. Later, he withdrew to solitude in a cell, where he gave himself utterly to physical labour, prayer, vigils- and pondering on God. Tormented by the demon of lust, he confessed to his spiritual father, Isidore, and received from him the advice to fast as much as possible, and never to eat his fill. When this proved to be of no help, he, at the elder's advice, began to keep night-vigils and to pray standing; he then got into the way of carrying water from a distant well for the older monks. After six years of terrible striving, St Isidore finally healed him miraculously of the lustful thoughts, imaginings and dreams visited on him by the demon. He was ordained priest in old age. He founded a monastery of his own, and had seventy-five disciples, himself living to the age of seventy-five. He foresaw his own death, and one day told his disciples to flee, as barbarians were coming to attack the monastery. When his disciples urged him to flee as well, he told them that he must perish in the attack, for he had himself at one time done violence, according to the words: 'all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword' (Matt. 26:52). So he stayed, with six of his brethren. The barbarians came and ran them through. One of the brethren, hiding nearby, saw seven shining wreaths descend upon the seven martyrs.

2. Our Holy Father Sava of Pskov and Krypetsk.

A Serb by birth, he lived first in asceticism in the monastery of the holy Mother of God in Pskov, and was abbot of that monastery. But he was praised, so he fled from the glory of men and withdrew to an island in the lake of Krypetsk, where he founded a new community dedicated to St John the Theologian. However, he was not able here, either, to hide from praise and eminence. Prince Yaroslav of Pskov visited him with his wife. Sava would not allow the woman to enter the monastery, but blessed her and prayed for her outside it, healing her of an infirmity. This godly saint entered into rest in 1495, and his relics had wonderworking power. Of those he received at Krypetsk, Abbot Dositheus is the best-known.

3. The Assembly of all the Men of God of the Kiev Caves.

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