Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Mother Theodora.

From Alexandria, she was the wife of a young man. Urged on by a fortune-teller, she committed adultery with another man. Her conscience immediately began to trouble her, and she cut off her hair and dressed in men's garb, then went off to the men's monastery of Octodecatos under the man's name of Theodore. Her labours, fasts, vigils, meekness and tearful repentance were a source of wonder to all the brethren. Slandered by some harlot, who said that Theodora had lain with her, she would not let the truth be known, regarding it as a punishment from God for her former sin. Driven out of the monastery, she spent seven years wandering in the forests and deserts, caring for the harlot's child. She overcame all the enemy's assaults, refusing to worship Satan, to take food from the hand of a soldier or to heed her husband's demand that she return to him - for all that was simply devilish illusion, and when Theodora made the sign of the Cross, it all vanished away like smoke. After seven years, the abbot of the monastery received her back, and she lived there in asceticism a further two years and then entered into rest in the Lord. Only then did the monks learn that she was a woman; an angel appeared to the abbot and explained everything to him. Her husband came to her funeral, and remained till his death in the cell of his former wife. St Theodora had very great grace from God: she tamed wild beasts, healed sicknesses and brought water to a dry well. Thus God glorified this true penitent, who, with heroic endurance, spent nine years repenting of one sin. She entered into rest in the year 490.

2. St Paphnutius the Confessor.

A bishop in the Egyptian Thebaid, he suffered greatly for the Orthodox faith: heretics put out one of his eyes and broke his left leg. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council, refuting the Arian heresy with great power. The Emperor Constantine valued him greatly, and often kissed him on the missing eye, lost for the truth of Orthodoxy. At the Council, he stood in opposition to the western representatives, who proposed that secular priests be completely forbidden to marry. He was chaste throughout the whole of his life.

3. Our Holy Father Ephrosynus the Cook.

A simple man and a man of God, he served as cook in a certain monastery in the ninth century. The spiritual father of this monastery dreamed one night that he was in Paradise, and there saw Ephrosynus, who chose for him three apples of Paradise. When he awoke, he saw these three lovely and fragrant apples on his pillow. He quickly found Ephrosynus and asked him: 'Where were you last night, brother?' Where you were, Father', the blessed man of God replied. The spiritual father then revealed the whole affair to the monks, and all knew of the holiness and godliness of Ephrosynus. But he, fearing the praise of men, immediately fled from the monastery and hid himself in the desert, where he spent the rest of his life.

4. The Holy Martyr Ia.

Denounced by an idolatrous priest, she suffered for the Lord in Persia in the time of Sapor II, in 363. According to tradition, the sun was darkened at the time of her death, and the whole air was filled with a wonderful fragrance. She is glorified forever by the Lord.

5. The Holy Martyrs Diodore, Didymus and Diomedes.

They were flogged for Christ's sake in Laodicea, and gave their souls into the hands of their Lord.


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