Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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Menas was an Egyptian by birth and a soldier by profession. As a true Christian, he was not able to witness the abominable sacrificial offerings to the idols and left the army, the town, the people and everything else, and went to a deserted mountain, for it was easier for him to live among the wild beasts than with pagans. One day Menas clairvoyantly discerned a pagan celebration in the town of Cotyaeus. He descended into the town and openly declared his faith in Christ the Living God. He denounced idolatry and paganism as falsehood and darkness. Pyrrhus, eparch of that town, asked Menas who he was and where he was from. The saint replied: ``My fatherland is Egypt, my name is Menas. I was an officer, but witnessing the worship of idols, I renounced your honors. I now come before you all to proclaim my Christ as the true God, that He may proclaim me as His servant in the Heavenly Kingdom.'' Hearing this, Pyrrhus subjected St. Menas to severe tortures. They flogged him, scraped him with iron claws, burned him with torches, and tortured him by various other means, and finally beheaded him with the sword. They threw his body into a fire so that Christians would not be able to retrieve it, but Christians recovered several parts of his body from the fire nevertheless. They reverently buried those remains, which were later transferred to Alexandria and buried there, where a church was built over them. St. Menas suffered in about the year 304 and went to the Kingdom of Christ. He was and remains a great miracle-worker, both on earth and in heaven. Whoever glorifies St. Menas and invokes his help with faith, receives his help. The saint has often appeared as a warrior on horseback, arriving to help the faithful or punish the unfaithful.
2. The Holy Martyr Stefan of Deè< face="AGaramond">ani, King of Serbia 3. The Holy Martyrs Victor and Stephanida
3. The Holy Martyrs Victor and Stephanida
Victor was a soldier of Roman birth. He was tortured for Christ during the reign of Emperor Antoninus. At the time of his torture a young woman, Stephanida, declared that she too was a Christian. Victor was beheaded and Stephanida was pulled apart by having her legs bound to the tops of two palm trees.
4. The Holy Martyr Vincent the Deacon
Vincent was from the diocese of Saragossa in Spain. He was cruelly tortured for the Lord Jesus Christ, then burned on an iron grid. He gave up his soul to God in the year 304. His body reposes in Rome in the church bearing his name.
5. The Venerable Theodore the Studite
Theodore was the famous abbot of the Studite monastery (the Studium). He suffered greatly for the holy icons, and was a wise organizer of the monastic life, a divinely inspired teacher of Orthodoxy and a wonderful ascetic. He entered into rest in Constantinople, in the year 826 at the age of sixty-eight.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Tortured and persecuted, Holy King Stefan of Deèa< face="AGaramond">ni
If ever there was a holy king who sat on the throne of an earthly kingdom, that was the holy King Stefan of Deèa< face="AGaramond">ni. The Greeks, who otherwise considered the Slavs barbarians, were amazed at the beauty of St. Stefan's soul as one of the rarest wonders of the time. When the Emperor Cantacuzene sent the abbot of the Monastery of the Pantocrator to Milutin on some official business, King Milutin inquired about his son Stefan. ``O King, are you asking me about the second Job?'' the abbot replied. ``Be assured that his poverty stands above your royal greatness.'' For his part, the Byzantine emperor acted very cruelly toward the blind Stefan: he confined him to one area of the court and forbade everyone access to him. After that, he sent him to the Monastery of the Pantocrator, hoping that the monastery would force him into strict monastic asceticism, and that he would become weak and perish there. But God preserved the Blessed Stefan and he endured the ascetic labor of fasting and prayer like the best of monks. They began to speak of his wisdom throughout all of Constantinople, and the emperor began to respect him and often sought advice from him. For example, St. Stefan contributed to the defeat of the infamous heresy of Barlaam, against which St. Gregory of Palamas fought. Barlaam then resided in Constantinople, and by skillful intrigue, had won over many high-ranking clerics and civil officials to his way of thinking. In perplexity, the emperor summoned Stefan and asked him what he should do. The wise Stefan replied with the words of the Psalmist: Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? (Psalm 139:21), and also said: ``Dangerous men must be banished from society.'' Heeding this, Emperor Cantacuzene drove Barlaam from the capital with dishonor.
Contemplate the wonderful healing power of the Apostle Paul (Acts 28):
… for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Ephesians 2:15).
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