Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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October 241. The Holy Martyr Arethas
This holy martyr suffered for the Christian Faith with over four thousand Christians-priests, monks and nuns, men, women and children. Arethas was the eparch in the town of Nagran, in the southern Arabian land of Omir. He was ninety-five years old when he suffered. Dunaan, a cruel Jewish persecutor of Christians, then governed Omir. Determined to eradicate all Christians from his land, he surrounded the Christian town of Nagran, and sent a message to the people saying he would put them all to death unless they renounced Christ. The citizens closed the gates, and Dunaan attacked the city wall for a long time without success. Then the iniquitous governor swore to the citizens that he would do nothing to them, if only they would open the gate for him to enter and receive the tribute that they owed him-and that he would take it and immediately withdraw. The Christians believed him and opened the gate. Then the oath-breaking Jew summoned the aged Arethas, the clergy and other distinguished citizens and beheaded them all with the sword. He then perpetrated a horrible slaughter in the town. Learning of this, the Byzantine Emperor Justin was greatly grieved, and wrote a letter to the Ethiopian Emperor, Elesbaan, requesting him to set out with an army against Dunaan to avenge the innocent blood of the Christians. Elesbaan obeyed Justin, attacked the governor of Omir with his army, defeated him, slew his entire army, and beheaded him. By a revelation from God, a certain devout man named Abramius was installed as governor of Omir, and again by God's revelation, St. Gregory of Omir (December 19) was installed as archbishop. Christians rebuilt the Church of the Holy Trinity in Nagran that Dunaan had burned, and also built a church to the Holy Martyr Arethas and the other martyrs of Nagran. St. Arethas and the others suffered and received martyr's wreaths from the Lord in the year 523.
2. Saint Elesbaan, King of Ethiopia
Inflamed with zeal for the Christian Faith, this pious king raised an army against the governor Dunaan, the wicked persecutor of Christians in the land of Omir. However, at the battle's outset, Elesbaan had little success and much of his army perished in the arid desert. He then wept bitterly before God, and vowed to become a monk if God would help him conquer the mortal enemy of Christianity. Defeating Dunaan, Elesbaan returned to Ethiopia, immediately left the imperial court and entered a monastery, where he lived a strict life of asceticism as a true monk for fifteen full years. God endowed him with the grace of miracle-working before and after his death. He entered into rest in the year 555.
3. The Icon of the Holy Theotokos, ``Joy of All Who Sorrow''
This name is given to one of the wonderworking icons of the Most-holy Theotokos. On this day the icon is celebrated for the miraculous healing in Moscow, of Euphemia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim, in the year 1688. Euphemia had a serious wound in the side and as the doctors failed in their treatments, she prayed with tears to the Most-holy Theotokos. Then, she heard a voice: ``Euphemia, go to the Church of the Transfiguration of my Son; there you will find the icon, `Joy of All Who Sorrow.' Have the priest pray for you before this icon and you will be healed.'' Euphemia did so, and was immediately made well.
4. The Venerable Arethas of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves
He reposed in the year 1190. (See ``Reflection'' below.)
HYMN OF PRAISE
O Most-holy Mother of God, ``Joy of All Who Sorrow,''
When a consecrated person commits a transgression, a greater punishment awaits him than awaits a layman, less enlightened in the mystery of the will of God than he, who commits the same sin. St. Arethas was a monk in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves, and was very avaricious. He would give nothing to anyone of the piles of possessions in his cell, not even a kopeck. But once, he became very seriously ill and saw, as if in a vision, devils snatching his soul from the angels, screaming, ``He is ours, he is ours!'' and citing as their proof Arethas's greed and miserliness. Upon his recovery Arethas amended his life, and from then on counted all earthly goods as nothing. Our benevolent God forgave him, and later endowed him with abundant grace.
Contemplate Cornelius the Centurion's wondrous visitation by the angel of God (Acts 10):
Our God shall come and shall not keep silent (Psalm 50:3).
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