Prologue of Ohrid


March 20


This glorious monastery, which still exists today, was visited by St. Sava of Serbia and endowed by several Serbian rulers. Many times it was attacked, pillaged and laid waste by ruthless Arabs. But, by the providence of God, it was always restored and is preserved to this day. During the reign of Constantine and Irene, it was attacked and pillaged by the Arabs. The monks did not want to flee, but taking counsel with their abbot Thomas they said: "We have fled from the world into this wilderness for the sake of our love for Christ, and it would be shameful if we fled from the wilderness out of fear of men. If we are slain here, we will be slain because of our love for Christ, for Whose sake we came here to live." Having decided this, they awaited the armed Arabs, unarmed like lambs before wolves. The Arabs slew some of the monks with arrows and some they sealed off in the cave of St. Sava. Then the Arabs lit a fire at the entrance of the cave, and the monks were suffocated by the smoke. Thus many of them died as martyrs for the sake of Christ and went to the Kingdom of Him Whom they loved and for Whose love they perished. They suffered honorably before Pascha [the Feast of the Resurrection] in 796 A.D., during the time of Constantine and Irene, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Elias. A just punishment quickly befell the savage marauders. Returning to their tents, they began to quarrel among themselves and, fighting with one another, slew one another.


This was the Samaritan woman who had the rare fortune to converse with the Lord Christ Himself at the Well of Jacob, near Sychar (John 4:4-31). Believing in the Lord, Photina afterward went to preach His Gospel with her two sons Victor and Josiah, and with her five sisters, Anatolia, Phota, Photida, Parasceva and Cyriaca. They went to Carthage in Africa. There they were arrested, taken to Rome and thrown into prison during the reign of Emperor Nero. By God's providence, Domnina, the daughter of Nero, came into contact with St. Photina, who converted her to the Christian Faith. After imprisonment they all suffered for the sake of Christ. Photina, who was first enlightened with the light of truth at the well of Sychar, was now thrown into a well where she died and entered the Eternal Kingdom of Christ.



The Samaritan Woman met Christ at the well,

And was enlightened with the light of Christ Himself.

Under Nero she ended her life in another well,

And she gave her spirit to Christ God, her Lord.

Her glorious sons were Victor and Josiah:

The saintly mother enlightened both of them with holiness.

Five sisters suffered for the name of Christ,

And with her were translated to heaven, to receive their reward.

O penitent Photina, wonderful sufferer,

How your countenance now shines with eternal light!

Once, you did not even give water to the Savior;

Finally, even your blood you shed for Him.

Your soul had once been darkened, as you were a Samaritan;

When you became a Christian, you shone more brightly than the sun's rays.

In Sychar you proclaimed Christ with fear;

In the center of Rome you witnessed to Him by your death.

Love destroys every fear and makes one a hero--

O Photina, love forever glorifies you.

Two or three Romes can Nero burn down,

But the soul of Christians cannot burn.

Vessels of clay can Nero smash,

But he had no power over the spirit of Photina.

O immortal saint, help us now,

By your prayers, before the throne of Christ the Savior.


God punishes a sinner not because it gives Him gratification to destroy men. If that gave Him gratification, He would not have created man from nothing. He punishes a sinner for more important and constructive reasons, two of which are most apparent to us. First, by punishment, He corrects him and leads him on the true path of salvation, and second, He frightens others from sinning. St. Isaac also thinks this when he says: "A righteous wise man is like unto God--for he punishes a man not to reproach him for his sin but either to correct him or to instill fear in others." One recalcitrant young man, who ridiculed God and his parents, suddenly went insane. The whole city in which this young man lived saw in this the punishment of God and was filled with the fear of God. The young man was held bound in isolation for three years. His mother wept bitterly and prayed to God for her son. One year, on the Feast of Pentecost, the mother brought him to the Monastery of St. Basil of Ostrog. Following prayers, the insane youth was cured and came to himself. After that he repented and became an exemplary person and a true Christian.


Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:

1. How blood flowed from His hands and dripped to the ground;

2. How blood flowed from His feet and dripped to the ground;

3. How blood flowed from beneath His ribs and dripped to the ground.


on the battle of the Lamb with the beasts

"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings" (Revelation 17:14).

Who speaks these marvelous words? John, who saw God. Who is this Lamb? Christ the Lord. Who is this Lord of lords and King of kings? Christ the Lord. With whom will He wage war and whom will He defeat? He will defeat the beast which has seven heads and all those who received authority, honor and riches from the unclean beast.

The Lamb among the beasts! St. John also saw the Lamb as the Victor over all the beasts. Christ among the demons! One would say: "They will devour Him!" Nevertheless, the terrified demons cry out to Him for mercy and flee from Him without turning back. Christ among His tormentors! One would say: "They will destroy Him forever." Nevertheless, He resurrects and conquers, and they flee from Him in terror and perish. The Church among the heathens! One would say: "They will flood her like a wave covering a small island." Nevertheless, the pagan kingdoms sank and fell apart, while the Church still exists, flourishes and advances. The Christian Faith among dry philosophers and theoreticians! One would say: "They will outwit it and drive it from the world." Nevertheless, they steer one another into lies and persecutions, but the Christian Faith saves men. Piety in the midst of blasphemers and apostates! One would say: "They will soil it!" Nevertheless, they are smothered in their own filth, and reverence preserves itself in unsoiled purity. Christian meekness and tears surrounded by tyrants and abductors! One would say: "It will die of hunger!" Nevertheless, they live and are satiated, while the tyrants and abductors suffer from starvation. The Lamb among the beasts! Nevertheless, the Lamb is the Victor.

O Lord, meek and good, Lamb of God all-gentle, imbue us with Thy meekness and goodness, so that even we may share in Thy victory.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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