Prologue of Ohrid


August 25


On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. Bartholomew, although his main feast is celebrated on June 11. When this great apostle was crucified in Albanopolis [Derbend] in Armenia, Christians removed his body and honorably buried it in a lead sarcophagus. When numerous miracles--especially healings of the sick--occurred over the grave of the apostle, the number of Christians visiting the grave increased, so the pagans took the coffin containing the relics of Bartholomew and threw it into the sea. They also threw four more coffins into the sea. These contained the relics of four martyrs: Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Acacius. However, by God's providence the coffins did not sink, but floated and were carried by the current: Acacius to the town of Askalon, Gregory to Calabria, Lucian to Messina, Papian to the other side of Sicily, and Bartholomew to the island of Lipara. By a miraculous revelation, Agathon, the Bishop of Lipara, foresaw the approach of Apostle Bartholomew's relics. Accompanied by other clergy and the people, Agathon came to the seashore to receive the coffin with great joy. Immediately, many healings of the sick occurred over the relics of the holy apostle. The relics were placed in the Church of St. Bartholomew on Lipara, and reposed there until the time of Theophilus the Iconoclast. In approximately 839 A.D., the Muslims threatened Lipara, and the relics of the apostle were translated to Benevento. Thus the Lord glorified His apostle by the miraculous grace bestowed upon him, both during his life and after his death.


Titus was one of the Seventy [Apostles]. He was born in Crete and was educated in Greek philosophy and poetry. Following a vision in a dream, he began reading the Prophet Isaiah and lost his faith in Hellenic philosophy. Hearing of Christ the Lord, Titus traveled to Jerusalem with other Cretans, and there he heard the Savior speak and witnessed His mighty acts. He gave his young heart completely to Christ. Later he was baptized by the Apostle Paul, whom he served, like a son to a father, in the work of evangelization. Paul loved Titus so much that he referred to him at times as his son: To Titus, my beloved son (Titus 1:4) and at times as his brother: I urged Titus to go to you and I sent the other brother with him (2 Corinthians 12:18). Titus traveled extensively with the great apostle, and Paul appointed him Bishop of Crete. Titus was present at Paul's suffering and death in Rome, and honorably buried the body of his teacher and spiritual father. Afterward Titus returned to Crete, where with great success he baptized the pagans, and where he prudently governed the Church of God until old age. Titus entered into rest at the age of ninety-four.


They suffered much, in prisons and in exile, for the Orthodox Faith. This was during the reign of the Arian Emperor Valens. Their persecution was lifted under Emperor Theodosius.


Menas governed the Church wisely from 536-552 A.D. Before that, he was in charge of the Home of St. Sampson (see June 27) for the poor and needy. Pope Agapitus (who had come to Constantinople in order to refute and depose the heretical Patriarch Anthimus) participated at the consecration of Menas as bishop. *)
*) It is said that the following miracle occurred in Constantinople during the patriarchate of St. Menas. A Jewish boy went to church with his Christian friends and, following their example, received the Sacrament of Holy Communion. His father, a glassblower by trade, learned of his son's action, and threw him into the superheated kiln that he had prepared for firing glass.  The boy remained in the fiery kiln for three days and three nights. When it was finally opened, the boy was alive and healthy, preserved by God's providence.



Only the immature spirit soothes itself with fables:

For him who seeks the truth, fables are too weak.

Chaste Titus, on impure Crete, lived;

Desire for truth brought him to Christ.

When, upon the face of Almighty God, he gazed,

All fables seemed like turbid water.

Christ is the truth, and the Cross is the path to Truth--

To divine heights, the Cross lifts the soul,

And enlightens it in the mystery of God's plan.

Titus bore labors and countless tortures--

Both for himself and for his teacher,

The great Paul, his father in spirit.

When Nero the profane beheaded Paul,

Titus lost neither faith nor courage,

But peacefully buried his father with honor,

And, returning to Crete, he labored doubly.

The temple of Diana fell, the temple of Zeus vanished,

At Titus's wondrous prayerful power.

The darkness of error he banished and, with Christ, Crete, he enlightened.

Titus, Paul's fellow-apostle, wondrous and holy.


Our Christian forebears' superhuman courage and readiness to endure all sufferings (and even voluntary death) for Christ evoked fear in their tormentors. Emperor Maximian, a fierce and merciless persecutor of Christians, ordered his Antiochian proconsul to release St. Andrew Stratelates from prison, in fear that the people would rebel, since they respected Andrew more than the emperor. Emperor Valens ordered his eparch in Edessa to slay all Christians who opposed Arius. The eparch had more human compassion than the emperor. The Edessan Christians had services in a field outside the city, for the Arians had seized all the churches in the city. The eparch warned the Christians to forego the services in the field the next day, so that they would not be killed. Contrary to this warning, all the Christians set out happily to the field, rejoicing that they would suffer and die for the true Faith. The eparch, marching out of the city with the soldiers, saw a Christian woman with a child in her arms as she hurried past the soldiers toward the field. The eparch said to her: "Haven't you heard that the eparch, with his soldiers, will come and kill everyone that he finds there?" The woman answered: "I heard--and because of that, I am hurrying to the field, so that I can die for Christ with the others." The eparch continued: "And why are you taking this child with you?" The woman replied: "I want my child to become worthy of martyrdom as well as myself." At this, the eparch was filled with dread, and returned to the city with his soldiers to inform the emperor. The emperor also was filled with fear, and revoked his order to massacre the Christians.


To contemplate the extraordinary selflessness of David (1 Samuel 24 [also known as 1 Kings 24]):

1. How Saul, pursuing David, unknowingly entered into the cave where David was hiding with the young men;

2. How the young men pressed David to kill Saul, but David refused;

3. How David cried out to Saul: The Lord judge between me and you (1 Samuel 24:12 - 1 Kings 24:12).


About the opened prison and the lighted darkness

"That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves" (Isaiah 49:9).

Who is a greater prisoner than he who is bound by sin? Is there a greater darkness than the darkness of sin, death and hell? Who can free one from sin? God alone. Even the scribes and Pharisees acknowledged this. Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7). Christ released many from sin, and made them free and whole. Therefore, if God alone is able to release prisoners from sins, why did the Jews not acknowledge Him as God? They themselves were bound by sin and were unable to think logically, and they did not allow the Lord to release them from their bonds. See what folly the "wise men" of the Jews committed. On the one hand, they confirmed that God alone is able to loose man from sin; yet, on the other hand, they accused Christ of being in league with the devil! The devil is the one who binds, so how can the devil set loose? The devil is the one who destroys, so how can he save man? Where there are devils, there is also the prison--sin, death and hell. Only Christ has the power--the divine, unequaled power--to lead the souls of men out of prison, and save them. My son, your sins are forgiven you! (Mark 2:5). Young man, I say to you, arise! (Luke 7:14) Lazarus, come forth! (John 11:43). By His mighty words, He removed the bonds of the sinners and led the dead back into the light of life. By His descent into hell, He destroyed the throne of Satan and freed the souls of the righteous ones. By His resurrection, He fully and completely revealed His irresistible authority over all the diabolical bonds of the devil, over all the intrigues of hell, and over the last enemy--death: The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

O Lord, Victor over demons, Liberator from sin, Resurrection of the dead--You do we worship, and to You do we pray: free us, resurrect us, and bless us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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