Prologue of Ohrid


March 13


Nicephorus governed the Holy Church wisely and zealously as one of the greatest archpastors of Constantinople. When Leo the Armenian rose up against icons, Nicephorus alone defied the emperor. He first counseled the emperor and then later denounced him. That is why the depraved emperor banished him to the island of Prokonis. On this island there was a monastery which Nicephorous had built in honor of St. Theodore. This confessor of the Orthodox Faith remained in this monastery for thirteen years and afterward presented himself to the Lord in the year 827 A.D. Since all the iconoclastic emperors had perished, and Michael, with his mother Theodora, sat on the imperial throne, Patriarch Methodius was restored to the patriarchal throne. The relics of St. Nicephorous were translated from Prokonis to Constantinople in 846 A.D. There they rested first in the Church of Hagia Sophia [Divine Wisdom], from which he had been banished during his life, and later in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. The principal feast of this great hierarch is on June 2, and on March 13 the discovery and translation of his incorrupt relics is commemorated. On March 13, St. Nicephorous was banished from Constantinople and then, again, on March 13, thirty-two years later, his relics were returned to the capital.


For her unwavering confession of faith in Christ, she was cruelly tortured in Persia in the fourth century. So much did they torture her, flogging her with a whip, that she became exhausted and died. Her soul then departed from her tortured body and entered into the joy of Christ the King and Lord.


This hieromartyr was successor to the glorious Dionysius the Areopagite on the episcopal throne in Athens. As a bishop, he was tortured by the pagans and beheaded in the second century. After a brief period of torture, he inherited life eternal.



Constantinople, wondrous city near the blue Bosphorus,

Whose glory can be measured against your glory?

You were an awesome battleground of spiritual warriors,

Blasphemous heretics and saints of God.

As through a sieve you sifted them throughout the long centuries

Making known both apostates and servants of God.

By many sins you are soiled, and by the filth of sinners,

But you are consecrated with the abundance of the blood of martyrs.

Who could enumerate the spiritual heroes

And all the heavenly visions and all your mysteries?

The angels of God often flew down to you,

And men, like angels, were raised up to heaven.

The Mother of God appeared within you many times

To deliver those in danger, to heal the sick.

The flock of wondrous saints hovers over you,

And the prayers of your children are borne to the Most High.

Oh, how many saints were your children!

As many as there are lilies upon lilies, there are saints upon saints!

You wrote history and the calendar in red;

By your efforts even the great Symbol of Faith [The Creed] was written.

Thus, about you this could be said:

Among the many cities, you are a red letter.

With Holy Faith you enlightened the universe.

You healed the world of paganism and heresies.

Tortured much, but not slain, you have not yet passed away.

That is why we all celebrate you, Confessor that you are!

Throughout the earth and in the heavens your glory echoes;

Everyone who is baptized owes a great debt of gratitude to you.


Great are those Christians who have a great love for Christ. Oh, in truth, how great were those Christians, those God-bearing fathers and martyrs! For so many in our time, this is impossible even to imagine. This is what one of them, St. Simeon the New Theologian, confessed before all the monks in his monastery. Speaking from his own personal experience about how the words of the Lord, For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (Matthew 11:30), were realized in him, Simeon said: "Believe me, when I fled to God my Savior, I did not encounter anything sorrowful, difficult or unbearable. The only great and unbearable sorrow I had was that I could not find sufficient means to die for the love for Christ." Are not such souls like burning flames enclosed in earthen vessels? Burning flames are always upright, directed toward heaven. Only remove the covering and the flame will shoot upward.


Contemplate the Lord Jesus at the judgment before Herod:

1. How Herod at first was very glad to see Jesus--not out of any spiritual need, but out of curiosity;

2. How Herod had hoped to see a miracle from Jesus, but was mistaken in that, for the Lord remained silent to all of his questions;

3. How Herod ridiculed the Lord and clothed Him in a beautiful garment.


on the reconciliation of the wicked for the sake of evil

"And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves" (Luke 23:12).

In His shame and humiliation, the Just One does good to His enemies. He reconciles them. It is true, in this case, that their reconciliation did not create mutual cooperation for some good deed but mutual persecution of the Just One. At least the flame of hatred between them was extinguished and died out. That was due to the Just One. Pilate and Herod were enemies. On that day when the Savior was brought for judgment before both of them, they were reconciled. The Prince of Peace brought peace between the quarreling parties: peace which helped to hew out a cross for Him. But He also came to be a willing sacrifice for the sins of many.

Even today common enemies make peace among themselves when they find it necessary to attack and condemn the Lord. There are many who kill one another until you mention the name of the Lord to them. As soon as they hear that name, they gradually make peace among themselves for the sake of attacking that holy name. It is easier for the unjust to tolerate the unjust than it is for them to tolerate the just. It is easier for the unjust to come to an understanding and reconcile with the unjust than with the just.

In some countries, even the most quarrelsome parties seek reconciliation among themselves when it is deemed necessary to decide what place should be given to the Lord Jesus Christ in the state--the first place, which is befitting to Him, or the last place? Over these questions sworn enemies reconcile themselves, so that our Lord will be given the last place. So, also it was with the quarreling parties of Pharisees and Saducees, who were reconciled and entered into a partnership against Christ.

Why is it that the Most-pure and the Most-needed had to be awarded the last place? Because, according to their thinking, the first place would then be reserved for them. The same incentive was there between sworn enemies, the Pharisees and Saducees, when it was deemed necessary to seek Christ's death. The same incentive was the occasion that caused the reconciliation between Pilate and Herod when it was deemed necessary to judge that Christ had to be put to death.

O my brethren, let us never seek peace with the unjust against justice. Rather, let us always seek peace with God, and that with a clear conscience.

O God, help us so that we may always possess such a peace.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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