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The Prologue From Ohrid



In the third century, during the reign of Emperor Probus, when Atticus was governing Antioch, two Christians, Trophimus and Sabbatius, both eminent and honorable citizens, came to that city. They arrived just as a pagan festival and sacrificial offerings to the idol of Apollo were taking place at nearby Daphne. Atticus made every effort to ensure that all citizens took part in this festivity. When someone noticed that Trophimus and Sabbatius were not participating in the festivity, he told Atticus. Atticus brought them to trial, and when they refused to renounce Christ he subjected them to tortures, one after the other. After he beat and tortured Trophimus, Atticus sent him to Phrygia to Dionysius, an even cruder torturer of Christians. Then Atticus took Sabbatius from prison and began to try him. When the torturer asked Sabbatius who he was and what his rank was, he replied: “My rank and dignity and homeland and glory and wealth is Christ, the Son of God, Who lives forever, and by Whose providence the universe exists and is governed.” For that, he was beaten and torn and scraped with an iron implement until the bones showed through beneath his flesh. Under these tortures he reposed. In Phrygia, the torturer Dionysius subjected Trophimus to great torture, then kept him in prison for even greater tortures. A certain senator Dorymedon, a secret Christian, came to the prison and ministered to Trophimus. When the torturer learned of this, he began to torture both of them in the same way, and finally threw them to the wild beasts, but the wild beasts did not touch them. Holy Dorymedon even shouted at the she-bear, pulling her ears so that she would tear him apart, but in spite of all that, the bear became gentler. In the end, the torturer ordered that Saints Trophimus and Dorymedon be beheaded with the sword. The souls of both of these holy martyrs now reign in heaven.


Dometian, a Sicilian prince, went hunting in the mountains with his servants. There he saw an old man surrounded by wild beasts as tame as lambs. Asked who and what he was, the elder replied that his name was Zosimas, that he was a Christian, and that he had lived long among the wild beasts, who were better than those who lived in the city and torturered Christians. This offended Dometian, who was himself a cruel persecutor of Christians. He chained Zosimas and sent him ahead to Nazareth, as he especially wanted to torture him there, to intimidate those who believed in Christ. When Dometian had wounded and bloodied Zosimas with blows, he tied a stone around his neck and suspended him from a tree. Then the prince mocked him, saying: “Command that a wild beast come forth so that we may all believe!” The holy martyr prayed to God, and, indeed, an enormous lion appeared, drew near to Zosimas, and placed his head under the stone to alleviate the martyr’s suffering. In great fear, the prince freed Zosimas, but the latter soon rendered his spirit into the hands of his Lord.


Theodore was a righteous and merciful man. He received the great schema before his repose, and entered into rest in the year 1298.



To the arid wilderness, far from men,
Early in life, St. Zosimas had fled.
In solitude he conversed with God,
And spent his life in many labors
In prayer, fasting, all-night vigils,

And in salvific contemplation of God.
He was like an angel in vigil, like a giant in faith.
Even the beasts sensed his innocence.
The beasts, despisers of cruel men, loved the saint,
And obeyed him as children obey their father.
The merciful saint tamed them with mercy,
And the beasts responded with goodness to goodness,
Since beasts remember goodness, and repay it in kind,
With gratitude to their benefactors.
Persecuted by men, but dear to the beasts,
Among the beasts Zosimas took up his habitation.
But the beastly men discovered his home
And killed his body by cruel torture.
Now St. Zosimas rejoices in heaven;
In Paradise, he exults with the saints.
He prays for us, that we may overcome our hardships
And rejoice with him in Paradise.


Even the dead sense and know the good deeds that are performed for them. Christians need not have any doubt in this. A good deed spreads through the heavenly world like an electrical current. An imperial clerk, Magistrian, was sent by the emperor on an important errand. Along the way, Magistrian saw a poor dead man, completely naked. He was moved with pity, removed his shirt, dressed the dead man, and buried him honorably. After a while, Magistrian had an unfortunate accident: he fell from his horse and broke his leg, and lay sick in bed for a long time. On one occasion, several doctors gathered around him to take counsel concerning his illness. The doctors agreed that his leg would have to be amputated. That night Magistrian could not sleep, but grieved and wept. At midnight a man suddenly appeared in his room and asked him: “Why are you weeping?” When Magistrian explained his condition, the unknown man then rubbed the infected leg with his hand and the leg was healed. “For God’s sake, tell me-who are you?” asked Magistrian. The unknown man replied: “Look at me, and see, is not this your shirt? I am he whom you saw naked and dead, and whom you dressed in this shirt. And behold, for your good deed God has sent me to heal you. Give thanks to God!”


Contemplate the sin of King Asa, and God’s punishment on him (II Chronicles 16):
1. How Asa, frightened of a neighboring king, took God’s gold out of the Temple in order to buy an alliance with the King of Syria;
2. How the Syrian king took the gold, but betrayed him;
3. How God allowed a grave illness to befall Asa.


-on the sorrow of Christ-

Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour (John 12:27).

Nothing more real came into this earthly world than the Lord Jesus Christ-nothing more real as God, and nothing more real as man. In truth, besides Jesus Christ, this whole world is like a mirage. Neither earth, nor water, nor air, nor light even comes close to His reality. Behold, all of this will pass, but He will remain. Indeed, He is the cornerstone of the eternal, intransitory world; and only He, and those who cling to Him, will have a part in that eternal, intransitory reality. The stormy but helpless waves of time have furiously assaulted, and continue assaulting, the reality of Christ’s divinity and even His humanity. As much effort was needed for Christians to open the eyes of the pagans and to prove the divinity of Christ, as was needed to open the eyes of the heretics to prove His humanity. The omniscient Holy Spirit foresaw this, and, through the Evangelists, prepared the weapons for Christian warriors. Now is My soul troubled. Would the Lord feel sorrow if He were not a true man, subject to all the weaknesses of the physical nature except sin? And He would feel not only sorrow, but also fear: Father, save Me from this hour! This is said by weak human nature which fears death (for this is about death). However, His human nature was not sinful, but sinless, for our Lord immediately adds: But for this cause came I unto this hour. Do you see how important the death of Christ is? By it we are redeemed, and by it we are saved. Therefore, let no one stop at the teachings of Christ; rather, let him take himself to Golgotha, and observe with horror the bloody sacrifice on the Cross that was offered for our sins-for our salvation from the foul jaws of the serpent of the netherworld.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered for our sake and for the sake of our salvation-have mercy on us, again and again.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.