Prologue of Ohrid


August 17


Myron was a priest in the town of Achaia. He was of wealthy and prominent origin, yet was kind and meek by nature--a lover of both God and of man. During the reign of Emperor Decius, on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, pagans charged into the church, dragged Myron out of the service, and subjected him to torture by fire. During this torture, an angel appeared to him and encouraged him. The pagans began to peel his skin in strips from his head to his feet. The martyr grabbed one such strip of his skin and struck his torturer, the judge, on the face with it. As though possessed, Antipater the judge grabbed a sword and killed himself. Finally, the pagans took Myron to the city of Cyzicus, and slew him there with the sword, in the year 250 A.D.


Patroclus was a citizen of the city of Trychasia, present day Troyes in France [Gaul]. He inherited great wealth from his parents and, as a true Christian, used it to perform daily acts of mercy for the less fortunate, while he himself lived a life of asceticism, taking food only once a day after the setting of the sun. Because of the sanctity of his life, the Lord granted Patroclus the power of healing, and he was known throughout the land as a miracle-worker. Emperor Aurelian, arriving in Gaul, ordered that Patroclus be brought before him. St. Patroclus proclaimed his faith in Christ before the emperor, and did not conceal anything. "O Emperor, if you desire something of my wealth, I will give it to you, for I see you as poor," said St. Patroclus to the emperor. To this the emperor replied: "How is it that you call me, the emperor, poor, when I have countless riches?" St. Patroclus then said: "You have only transient earthly treasures. You are poor, for you are not in possession of yourself, nor do you possess the Christian Faith in your heart." He was condemned to death and given over to the soldiers to be taken to a bog near the river to be slain, and to be left to sink into the mud. But the saint of God prayed to God that his body not remain in the mud, and by the power of God he suddenly became invisible to the soldiers and was translated to the other side of the river. After a long search, the soldiers found him and slew him on a dry spot of land. Two beggars, to whom Patroclus often gave alms, happened by, recognized the body of their benefactor, and buried it with honor.


Elias was a Greek by descent, and was the abbot of the Monastery of Mellicia, in Calabria in southern Italy. During the iconoclastic rebellion in the East, many eastern monks fled to Calabria with icons. In time, the monastic life was spread widely throughout Calabria. The Calabrian monks were distinguished by their great learning and austerity of life. At one point, there were so many Orthodox monasteries and monks in Calabria that Calabria was compared with Egypt of old. Later, through the centuries, Orthodox Calabria came under the authority of the Archbishop of Ohrid. Venerable Elias died in Thessalonica in the year 903 A.D.


Portraying the images [faces] of the saints on wood, Alypius imitated their good works in his own soul. He healed a man of leprosy, saw an angel of God, and died peacefully in the Lord in his old age in the year 1114 A.D.



Patroclus, before the emperor, stood erect.

And fearlessly glorified Christ God;

The emperor questioned him, and Patroclus said:

"The wealthy, to the poor, should give:

I am wealthy and you, O Emperor, are poor;

I have treasure, if only you would ask."

"Am I, who rule the world, poor?

And are you wealthy, with only that cursed Faith?"

"Wealthy, I am," Patroclus repeated,

"In the fire, my wealth does not burn;

Unto the ages of ages my wealth lasts;

In heaven, my wealth awaits me."

The emperor angrily cried out:

"What kind of wealth is this? You are in my power!

  To torture will I give you over!"

"Give me over, O Emperor," Patroclus replied.

"God will reward my sufferings.

Torture my body; it is made for torture--

And into the hands of the Lord, my spirit I will give.

A Christian's spirit is free,

As it is with every Christian soldier.

  Glory and victory await me,

Just as shame and misfortune await you, O Emperor.

Upon me, be swift, and heap tortures,

So that my wreath does not fade, O Emperor.


The Lord does not allow His faithful servants to be shamed. It often happened that the martyrs of Christ, ridiculed and mocked before the courts, unexpectedly performed a miracle, which instilled fear in the unbelievers. Either the idols fell, or thunder destroyed the temples of the heathen, or an unexpected downpour of rain extinguished the fire prepared for their burning, or the torturers beat themselves with stones and rods and so forth. Thus, while he was torturing St. Myron, Antipater suddenly went insane and killed himself. St. Alypius the Icongrapher was already at the end of his life when he received an order from a man to paint [write] an icon of the Dormition [the Falling Asleep - The Assumption] of the Most-holy Theotokos. As the feast was approaching, this man came several times to see if the icon was completed. But the icon was not even begun by the eve of the Feast of the Dormition, when the icon was supposed to have been placed in the church. When this man had gone home grief stricken, a young man suddenly appeared in Alypius's cell and immediately sat down to paint the icon. He worked very quickly and with great expertise. When the icon was completed, it shone like the sun. After showing the icon to the astonished Alypius, the young man took the icon to the church for which it had been ordered. The next day, that man who had ordered the icon went to the church and, to his great surprise, saw the icon in its place. Then he came to the monastery and, along with the abbot, entered Alypius's cell. "How was this man's icon painted so swiftly, and who painted it?" asked the abbot. The ailing Alypius replied: "An angel painted it, and he is standing here now, to take me away." And with that, he gave up the spirit.


To contemplate God's punishment of Saul because of his disobedience (1 Samuel 15 [also known as 1 Kings 15]):

1. How God commanded Saul not to spare the Amalekites nor to take any of their livestock;

2. How Saul spared Agag, the Amalekite King, and allowed the best of the livestock to be taken;

3. How Samuel informed Saul that God had rejected him because of his disobedience, and because of his self-willed offering of the sacrifice to God without a priest.


About the Spirit-bearing Divine Child

"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2).

The Holy Spirit of God does not separate from the Father, nor does He separate from the Son; nor does the Father separate from the Son and the Spirit; nor does the Son separate from the Father and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit prophesied about the Son through the prophets; the Holy Spirit overshadowed the All-holy Virgin and prepared her for the birth of the Son of God; the Holy Spirit stood inseparably over the Son during the entire time of His dwelling in the world in the body. The spirit of wisdom--this is the vision of heavenly mysteries; the spirit of understanding--this is the comprehension of the ties of the visible and invisible worlds; the spirit of counsel--this is the separation of good from evil; the spirit of power [might]--this is the authority over created nature; the spirit of knowledge--this is the knowledge of the essence of created beings; the spirit of the fear of the Lord--this is the recognition of the divine power over both worlds, and submission to the will of God. Who, at any time among men, has had this fullness of riches of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? No one but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts freely, and gives them to men, some to this one, and some to another. But the whole of the undivided fullness of His gifts shines only in the Son of God.

Why did the Lord Jesus need to have the fear of God when He Himself is God? As God, He did not have the fear of God; but as a man, He had the fear of God as an example for us. Just as He fasted, watched and labored as a man for the sake of teaching men, so He feared God as a man, for the sake of teaching men. What is more curable for men infected with sin than the fear of God? He, as One Who was healthy, had to take unto Himself the medicine for sin so that He could encourage us, who are sick, to take that medicine. Does not a parent do the same thing, with sick children who are afraid to take the prescribed medicine?

O Triune and Eternal God--before Whom all the heavenly hosts bow down, singing the wondrous hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth--receive our worship also, and save us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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