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1. The Hieromartyr Babylas.

This `great and wonderful man, if one can call him a man', as St John Chrysostom expresses it, was archbishop in Antioch in the time of the wicked Emperor Numerian. This Numerian made a peace treaty with some barbarian king, who was of better character and a greater lover of peace than himself. As a sign of his sincere desire for a lasting peace, the king gave his little son to be brought up at Numerian's court. One day, Numerian butchered the boy and offered him as a sacrifice to the idols. Still hot from his wicked shedding of innocent blood, this evildoer went to a Christian church to see what was happening there. Holy Babylas was at prayer with the people. He heard that the Emperor was coming with his retinue and intended to enter the church. Babylas stopped the service, went out in front of the church and told the Emperor that, as an idolater, he was not permitted entry to the holy church where the one, true God was worshipped. Speaking of Babylas, Chrysostom says: 'Who else in the world would he fear, having with such authority withstood the Emperor? By this he taught kings not to spread their power further than the measure given them by God, and also showed the clergy how to use their authority.' The shamed Emperor turned back, but planned revenge. The following day, the Emperor summoned Babylas, and began to berate him and bid him offer sacrifice to idols, which the saint, naturally, steadfastly refused to do. The Emperor then bound him with chains and threw him into prison. He also tortured three children: Urban, aged twelve, Prilidian, aged nine and Hippolinus, aged seven. Babylas was their spiritual father and teacher, and they had stayed near him out of love for him. They were the sons of a Christian woman, Christodoula, who herself suffered for Christ. The Emperor first ordered that each child be beaten with the number of blows that totalled his age, and then had them thrown into prison. Babylas, in bonds, was present at the beheading of the children, giving them courage, and then laid his honoured head under the sword. He was buried by Christians, in the chains in which he was bound at his death, in one grave with the three children. Their holy souls flew off to the company of heaven, and their wonderworking relics remained to be of support to the faithful, along with the enduring witness of their heroism in the Faith. They suffered in about 283.

2. The Holy Prophet Moses, who beheld God.

A great leader and lawgiver of Israel, he was born in Egypt in about 1550 B.C. He spent forty years in Egypt at Pharaoh's court, forty years as a shepherd in meditation on God and the world, and his last forty years he led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, which he saw but did not enter, having at one time sinned against God (Numbers 20:12). He entered into rest at the age of a hundred and twenty. He appeared from the other world on Tabor at the Lord's Transfiguration, and, according to the testimony of St John of the Ladder, appeared to the monks of Sinai.

3. The Holy Martyrs Mareellus and Cassian.

The Emperor Maximian Hercules (285-305) ordered that all the army offer sacrifice to idols. Marcellus was a soldier at this time, and Cassian a notary. Marcellus, as a Christian, said: 'If a soldier's calling is tied up with the offering of sacrifice to idols, I cannot be a soldier', and he took off his military belt and weapons and threw them from him. He was immediately condemned to death. Cassian had to put this death-sentence into writing, and he refused to do so. They were beheaded together, and their souls went to the heavenly Kingdom.


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