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The Prologue From Ohrid



Cosmas and Damian were unmercenaries and miracle-workers. They were brothers both in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia Minor of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father’s death, their mother Theodotia devoted all her time and effort to educating her sons and raising them as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons matured as sweet fruit and luminaries of the world. They were learned in the art of medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, not so much with medicine as by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were called “unmercenary physicians,” that is, unpaid physicians, for they healed freely and thus fulfilled the commandment of Christ: Freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). So careful were they in healing men free of charge that Cosmas became very angry with his brother Damian because he accepted three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and ordered that he not be buried alongside his brother Damian after his death. In fact, St. Damian did not accept these three eggs as a reward for healing the ailing Palladia, but rather because she adjured him in the name of the Most-holy Trinity to accept these three eggs. Nevertheless, after their death in the town of Fereman, they were buried together according to a revelation from God. The holy brothers were great miracle-workers both during their life and after their death. A snake crawled through the mouth and into the stomach of a certain farm laborer during his sleep, and the unfortunate man would have died in the greatest pain had he not, in the last moment, invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Thus, the Lord glorified forever the miracle-working of those who glorified Him on earth by their faith, purity and mercy.


Hermenegild was the son of the Gothic King Leovigild who adhered to the Arian heresy. However, Hermenegild did not turn away from Orthodoxy in spite of all the flatteries and threats of his cruel heretical father. His father cast him into prison and, early on Pascha, sent a heretical bishop to administer Communion to him. But the God-pleaser refused to receive Communion at the hands of a heretic, and the heretical bishop informed the king about this. The king became angry and ordered the executioner to behead Hermenegild in the year 586. Leovigild later repented that he had killed his son; he renounced his heresy and returned to Orthodoxy.


James was born in the Diocese of Castoria of parents named Martin and Parasceva. Working as a shepherd James became wealthy, and by this incurred the envy of his brother, who maligned him to the Turks as having found some treasure in the ground. James fled to Constantinople where he again became very wealthy. Once, James was the guest of a Turkish Bey. The Turks ate meat and James fasted. Then the Bey said: “Great is your Christian Faith!” And he related how his wife had been mentally ill and how he, after all the physicians and cures had failed, took her to the patriarch for prayers to be read over her. As soon as the patriarch opened the book to read, a heavenly light shone forth in the church. After the completion of the prayer, his wife was made whole. Hearing how the Turk extolled the Christian Faith, James distributed all his goods and went to the Holy Mountain, where he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of Iveron. He lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain and suffered for the Faith at the hands of the Turks in Jedrene on November 1, 1520. His miracle-working relics and those of his disciples, James and Dionysius, repose in the Monastery of St. Anastasia in Galakistou near Thessalonica.



The Church glorifies the miracle-working physicians,
Shining stars that shine with the Lord,
St. Cosmas and St. Damian,
Two Christians, wondrous giants.
Theodotia was the mother of these sons;
She nourished these giants.
The glorious brothers fulfilled the law,
And by their mercy pleased Christ.
They pleased Christ, the Merciful One,
The greatest Unmercenary Physician.
They received the gift, and became physicians;
They received the gift, but did not sell it.
They gave the gifts of God to the poor,
And in the name of Christ healed them.
Time has not covered God’s saints with darkness;
Thus it has always been, and thus it is now.
Nor has it covered the wonderworking physicians;
They shine today as they once did,
And help the infirm and the unfortunate
By mighty and willing prayers
Before Christ’s heavenly throne.
Honor and glory to the wondrous physicians!


St. Hilarion of Meglin fought a great battle against the Bogomils. At one time, the leaders of the Bogomils met with Hilarion and began to debate with him about faith. The Bogomils taught that God created the spiritual world and that the devil created the material world. To this, Hilarion replied to them that in Holy Scripture it is written: For God is the King of all the earth (Psalm 47:7) and also: The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness (Psalm 24:1). The Bogomils claimed that the Old Testament is of the devil. To them, the saint replied: “If the Old Testament indeed proceeded from the devil would Christ have said. Search the Scriptures … and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39), and would He have acknowledged as the greatest commandments those about love toward God and one’s neighbor which, at one time, were given through Moses?” The Bogomils also claimed that the body of Christ was brought from heaven. To this, St. Hilarion replied to them that had it been so, then the body of Christ would have felt neither hunger nor thirst, nor weariness nor suffering, nor would it have been susceptible to death. The Bogomils then expressed their disapproval of the sign of the Cross which Orthodox Christians use. The saint replied to them: “And what will you do when the sign of the Son of Man, His Cross, appears in the heavens, and when all nations of the earth who do not believe in the Cross will weep?” And he also said to them: “How is it that you say that all evil is from evil material, and meanwhile you do not reverence that Wood by which the whole material world was sanctified?”


Contemplate the wondrous power of the apostles’ words (Acts 16):
1. How Paul and Silas spoke to the assembled women alongside the water at Philippi;
2. How the Lord opened the heart of the woman Lydia, and she and her household were baptized.


-on the call to all Christians to become saints-

To the saints which are at Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1).

The Apostle calls the Christians in Ephesus saints. He does not call one or two of them saints, nor one group of them, but all of them. Is this not a wondrous miracle of God for people, not in the wilderness but in a city-and an idolatrous and corrupt city-to become saints? That married men who sire children, who trade and work, become saints! Indeed, such were the first Christians. Their dedication, fidelity and zeal in the Faith as well as their holiness and purity of life, completely justified their being called saints. If in latter times saints have become the exception, in those earlier times the unholy were the exception. Saints were the rule. Therefore, we must not wonder that the Apostle calls all baptized souls in Ephesus “saints” and that he has an even loftier name for all Christians, i.e., “sons,” the sons of God (Galatians 4:6). Christ the Lord Himself gave us the right to call ourselves such when He taught us to address God as Our Father (Matthew 6:9).

O my brethren, do we not say to God every day: “Holy God?” Do we not call the angels holy? Do we not call the Mother of God holy? And the prophets, apostles, martyrs and the righteous? Do we not call heaven holy and the Kingdom of Heaven holy? Who then is able to enter into the holy Kingdom but the saints? Therefore, if we have hope for salvation, we also have hope for holiness.

O Holy God, Who dwellest in the holy place and resteth among the saints and callest the holy to Thyself and showest mercy to them, help us also that we may become holy-in words, in thoughts and in deeds-to Thy glory and our salvation.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.