Prologue of Ohrid


July 15


Saint Julitta was of noble birth. She was widowed at an early age and left with her newborn child, Cyricus. She lived in Iconium, in the town of Lycaonia, and was completely devoted to the Faith of Christ. She immediately baptized her son after his birth, and when he was three years old, she instructed him in the Faith and taught him to pray as much as a child of that age is able. When Diocletian decreed the persecution of the Christians in the town of Iconium, much innocent blood was shed. Julitta took her son and hid in the city of Seleucid from the wrath of the heathens. But it was not any better there. Julitta was arrested and brought before the judge as a Christian. Since Julitta courageously confessed her faith in the Lord Jesus, the judge, in order to dishearten her and cause her to waver, took the child in his arms and began to caress him. But Cyricus cried out: "I am a Christian; let me go to my mother!" and began to scratch the judge with his fingernails, turning his face away from him. The judge became so enraged that he hurled the child to the ground and kicked him. Cyricus rolled down the stone stairs, and gave up his holy and innocent soul to God. Seeing how Cyricus suffered before her eyes, St. Julitta was joyful, and she gave thanks to God that He had found her son worthy of the martyr's wreath. After much suffering at the hands of the torturers, Julitta was beheaded in the year 304 A.D. Even today, the relics of Saints Cyricus and Julitta are miracle working. A portion of their relics is to be found in Ohrid, in the Church of the Holy Theotokos the Healer.


At baptism Vladimir was named Basil. He was the son of Prince Svyatoslav, and the grandson of Igor and Olga. Vladimir was at first entirely pagan, both in his faith and in his life. Learning that other faiths existed, he carefully began to inquire as to which of them was the best. For this reason, he sent emissaries to Constantinople. When the emissaries returned, they informed the prince that they attended a service in the Orthodox Church of the Divine Wisdom [Hagia Sofia] and that they were "outside themselves, not knowing whether they were on earth or in heaven." This inspired Vladimir to be baptized and to baptize his people. The main idol, Perun, was torn down from the hill of Kiev and hurled into the Dnieper River. After embracing the Christian Faith, Vladimir completely changed his life and exerted all of his efforts to correctly fulfill all the requirements of the Faith. In place of the destroyed idols, Vladimir ordered churches to be built throughout his realm, and he himself built a beautiful church dedicated to the Most-Holy Mother of God in Kiev. This church was built on the same spot where St. Theodore and his son John had earlier suffered martyrdom for Christ (July 12). With that same insuperable drive with which Vladimir had earlier espoused idolatry, he now spread Christianity. He found repose in the Lord in the year 1015 A.D.



The rage of idolatry, when it ruled the world,

Made martyrs of Julitta and her child Cyricus.

They were two innocent victims, two new symbols,

Of the Incarnate Word, two living witnesses.

Of all earthly riches, the most precious is truth.

Neither for herself nor for her son did the mother grieve;

Over youth, or wealth or strength, she shed no tears,

Following in Christ's footsteps, without turning back.

Those who know the truth, and are born again,

Are led by the truth to peace and freedom.

Blessed Julitta, the truth knew

When, with the Cross, she was baptized and by faith illumined.

Filled with God's peace and true freedom,

Without wailing or fear, she saw her son dead;

And without wailing or fear, her head she placed under the sword,

And by a martyric death, glorified the truth.


Hospitality is respected in other faiths, but Christianity has emphasized hospitality as a duty and a responsibility. At the same time, gratitude for hospitality is no less a duty and responsibility for Christians. He who learns to be grateful to men for hospitality, will also know how to be grateful to God for hospitality. For what are we here on earth but the guests of God? And what are the angels in heaven but the guests of God? A story is told of King Philip of Macedonia--how he severely punished one of his courtiers for ingratitude. The king sent this courtier overseas to fulfill a task for him. The courtier accomplished the task and started off for home by boat. A tempest destroyed the boat, and the courtier found himself in the waves. Fortunately, he was not too far from land, and a fisherman saw the man drowning, hurried to his assistance with his small boat, and brought him ashore. After he had recovered and rested, the courtier returned to the king and related his misfortune in the tempest at sea. The king, wishing to reward the courtier, asked him if there was a gift he could give him. The courtier mentioned the fisherman, and told the king that he would like, most of all, to be given the fisherman's property by the sea. The king immediately granted the courtier his wish. When the courtier settled on the property of his greatest benefactor, the fisherman, in great despair, went to the king and related the entire tale with lamentation, saying that he had saved the life of the courtier, who had now ousted him from his home. Upon hearing this, the king became furious with the ungrateful courtier, and ordered that he be branded on his forehead with the words "an ungrateful guest."


To contemplate the miraculous blossoming of Aaron's rod (Numbers 17):

1. How God, in order to quiet the murmuring against Moses and Aaron, ordered that the rods of all the elders of the tribes be placed in the tabernacle of the congregation;

2. How, overnight, only the dry rod of Aaron became green and blossomed and brought forth fruit;

3. How God can enliven even the soul of man, dead in sin.


About grace and peace

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2).

Brethren, grace and peace are multiplied through the knowledge of God. But through the knowledge of creation outside of God--cut off from God or contrary to God--sorrow and unrest are multiplied. That sorrow and unrest are multiplied among those who investigate things without the knowledge of God--is this not sufficiently attested to by the multitude of suicides precisely among those who choose as a profession for themselves to study, without God, nature and the life of mankind? Oh, how great a multitude among them are nervous, irritated, embittered, darkened and hysterical souls, who are separated from suicide by only a day or a month! But through the knowledge of God, grace and peace are multiplied. The apostle experienced this personally, and he passed on his precious experience to others.

Grace and peace are not gifts of the earth, but rather gifts of heaven. God bestows these gifts on those who labor to multiply their knowledge about Him.

Brethren, what is the quickest path that leads to the knowledge of God? Without a doubt, it is through Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the One who reveals, and He is the Revelation; He is the Wise One and the Wisdom; He is the Teacher and the Knowledge. Grace is from Him. Peace is from Him. He who comes to know God through the knowledge of created beings in nature and through the laws of nature, as the heathens do, does nothing wrong, but he progresses along the path in a roundabout manner and proceeds on an indirect path upon which many go astray and are lost. He who comes to the knowledge of God through conscience and a sense of the destiny of men, as the moralists do, does nothing wrong--but he also takes a roundabout and difficult path, and can go astray and become lost. However, he who knows God by knowing the Lord Christ is on the shortest and surest path.

O Lord Jesus, help us on the path to You and to Your Father and to the Holy Spirit.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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