Prologue of Ohrid


February 16


Pamphilus, the first of these martyrs, was a presbyter of the church at Caesarea in Palestine. He was a learned and devout man, who corrected the text of the New Testament from the errors of the various copiers. He himself recopied this salvific book and gave it to those who desired it. The second was the deacon Valentine--old in years and grey in wisdom. He was an outstanding authority on the Holy Scriptures and knew them completely by heart. The third was Paul, an honorable and distinguished man, who during a previous persecution had been cast into the fire for Christ. Besides these, there were five brothers, according to the flesh and spirit, who had been born in Egypt and were returning to their homeland after being forced to work in the mines of Cilicia. At the gates of Caesarea they declared that they were Christians, for which they were brought to court. When asked what their names were, they responded: "The pagan names which our mother gave to us we discarded, and we call ourselves:  Elias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel and Daniel." When asked where they were from, they responded: "From the Jerusalem on high." All of them were beheaded. There also suffered a young man, Porphyrius, who sought the bodies of the martyrs in order to bury them. They burned him in the fire, as well as Seleucus, formerly an officer who had approached and kissed the martyrs before the sword fell on their heads. Also put to death was the aged Theodulus, a servant of a Roman judge, who had embraced one of the martyrs as they were being escorted. Finally Julian, who had kissed and honored the lifeless bodies of the martyrs, was himself martyred. And so they gave little for much, the paltry for the precious, and mortality for immortality. They took up their habitation with the Lord in the year 308 A.D.


Maruthas was Bishop of Tagrith in Mesopotamia and was known for his faith and goodness. Maruthas mitigated the anger of the Persian King Yezdegeherd toward the Christians, and begged from him the relics of the four hundred martyrs in Persia. He also founded a town called Martyropolis, where he laid these holy relics. He ended his earthly course and took up his habitation with the Lord in the year 422 A.D.


Roman was a simple and illiterate peasant from Carpenesion. Learning of the heroism and glory of the martyrs of Christ, the young Roman desired martyrdom for himself. He went to Thessalonica were he began to praise the Faith of Christ on the streets and to call Mohammed a teller of fables. The Turks tortured him horribly and then sold him to a galley captain. Christians ransomed him from the captain and sent him to the Holy Mountain, where he was tonsured a monk by the illustrious Elder Acacius. But Roman still desired martyrdom for Christ. With the blessing of Elder Acacius, Roman traveled to Constantinople pretending insanity and began to lead a dog along the Turkish streets. When asked what he was doing, Roman responded that he was feeding the dog as Christians feed the Turks. The Turks threw him into a dry well, where he remained without bread for forty days. They then removed him from the well and beheaded him. A light emanated from his body for three days. An Englishman removed his body and took it to England. A certain monk dipped a towel in the blood of the martyr. This towel is preserved, even today, in the Monastery of Dochiariou [Mt. Athos]. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered in the year 1694 A.D.



Martyrs of Christ, flowers bountiful,

Which will never fade away.

Martyrs of Christ, evergreens living in the winter,

Stained with blood, you stretched toward heaven.

Martyrs of Christ, aromas of incense,

And votive lamps illumined by God.

You ran the race for the beauty of Christ,

And are forever with Christ in Paradise.

The world will last for a time, then cease to be,

But you will always be with the Lord in Paradise.


The most important thing in a meadow is grass. In a field, it is wheat. In a garden, it is vegetables. No one boasts about the enclosure of the meadow more than they do about the hay in the meadow. Nor does anyone boast more about the shed in the field than they do about the wheat in the field. Nor does anyone boast of the ditches more than they do of the vegetables in the garden. Why do people boast about their countries--the roads, the demarcations and boundaries, and the cities throughout the country? These and everything else have no greater value than the enclosures of the meadows, the shed in the field, or the ditches in the garden, when they are compared to the main crop, that is, to man. Men do not exist for the sake of the country, but the country exists for the sake of men. Christ came to save not countries, but men. A country receives its value from good citizens. And of what use is a great country to evil people? They are brambles in a spacious field.


Contemplate the Lord Jesus, praying on dark nights, alone in the mountains, for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men:

1. How He lifted His hands up toward heaven; how He bent to the ground; how He knelt in prayer many nights; in prayer for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men;

2. How He sweated at prayer and wept for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men;

3. How He kept vigil in prayer, tormenting His body without sleep and rest, for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men.


on the terrible stone

"Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Luke 20:18).

The Lord Christ is the cornerstone. Judas fell on that stone and was smashed. Herod fell on that stone, and he was smashed. Julian the Apostate fell on that stone, and he was smashed. Arius fell on that stone, and he was smashed. Those who deny Christ and those who mock him fall on that stone and are smashed like the clay pots of a potter.

This stone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. This stone fell on Egypt, and Egypt was destroyed. This stone fell on Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was destroyed. This stone fell on the Jewish people, and the Jewish people were scattered into pieces. This stone fell on many sinful generations and empires, and those sinful generations and empires dissolved into dust and ashes.

The Lord has forgiven sinners seventy times seven and more, but beyond that, if sinners remain sinners, will the Lord save them against their will? He will not, for that is not the principle of the salvation of men. The principle of salvation is that men voluntarily consent to being saved by God. If men, seventy times seven and more, do not desire to be saved by God, then God will not save them. Then men will be smashed against that stone around which they cannot pass, and they will be destroyed by that stone which they have raised to cast far away from themselves. Can it be said that God, Who saved the penitent thief on the cross, is unmerciful? Can it be said that He is unjust, when He gave over to destruction the thief who mocked Him even in the hour of death?

O Lord Almighty, save us!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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