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1. The Holy Apostle Thaddaeus.

One of the Seventy, he was not that Thaddaeus who was one of the Twelve. St Thaddaeus first saw and heard John the Baptist, and then saw the Lord Jesus and followed Him. The Lord included him among His seventy, lesser apostles, whom He sent two and two before His face (Luke 10:1). After His glorious Resurrection and Ascension, the Lord sent Thaddaeus to Edessa, Thaddaeus's birthplace, in fulfilment of His promise to Avgar, which He made when He sent him the napkin with the imprint of His face. By kissing this napkin, Avgar was healed of his leprosy, though not entirely; a little of the leprosy remained on his face. When St Thaddaeus visited Avgar, the latter received him with great joy. Christ's Apostle instructed him in the true Faith and then baptised him. When the baptised Avgar came up out of the water, the remaining leprosy fell from him and he was completely healed. Glorifying God, Prince Avgar desired that his people should come to the knowledge of the true God and glorify Him. The prince called together all the citizens of Edessa before the holy Apostle Thaddaeus, to hear him preach about Christ. Hearing the Apostie's words and seeing their miraculously-healed prince, the people cast away their idols and their unclean living, embraced the Christian faith and were baptised, and the city of Edessa became resplendent with the Christian faith. Prince Avgar brought much gold and offered it to the Apostle, but Thaddaeus said to him: 'Having abandoned my own, do I accept another's?' St Thaddaeus preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Phoenicia, and entered into rest in the Lord in the Phoenician city of Beirut.

2. The Holy Martyr Bassa and her children: Theognius, Agapius and Pistus.

Bassa was the wife of a pagan priest, but she was secretly a Christian and brought her sons up in a Christian spirit. Her husband hated her for her faith, and handed her over to the judge for torture, together with her sons. After harsh torture, her sons were beheaded (it is thought, in Edessa in Macedonia). Bassa was filled with joy to see her sons thus gloriously finish their martyrs' course for Christ, and herself went with yet greater desire from torture to torture. When she was thrown into the sea, angels appeared to her and took her to an island in the Sea of Marmara, where she was slain with the sword under Maximian. Thus holy Bassa was in a twofold manner made worthy of the Kingdom of Christ: as a martyr and as the mother of martyrs.

3. Our Holy Father Abraham of Smolensk.

Born in the town of Smolensk at the prayers of his parents, he early embraced the monastic state and gave himself to strict asceticism, emulating the holy fathers of the desert. He later founded the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Smolensk. He underwent many temptations from demons and from men, enduring them with great fortitude and thanksgiving to God. At a time of great drought, he brought rain by his prayers. Living fifty years in asceticism, he entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in about 1220.

4. Our Holy Forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

They are also commemorated on the Sunday of the Forefathers before Christmas, as righteous and pleasing to God.

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