Prologue of Ohrid


March 15


They all suffered in Caesarea in Palestine at the hand of Prince Urban during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. All seven were extremely young men, and none of them were Christians except Agapius. Neither were they baptized with water, but theirs was a baptism by blood. One day these seven young men were observing how Christians were being tortured: one in the fire, another on the gallows, and a third before wild beasts. Seeing with what great forbearance these Christians endured all their pain and sufferings, these seven became inflamed with a zeal for Christ. They tied their hands behind their backs and came before Urban, saying: "We also are Christians." The flattery and threats of Urban were in vain. These young men were joined by a distinguished citizen of this town, Agapius, who had previously suffered much for Christ. They became all the more inflamed in their faith and love for the Lord. All were beheaded in the year 303 A.D. and took up their abode in the mansions of the Heavenly King.


Alexander was from the city of Side in Pamphylia. A deputy of the Emperor Aurelius asked Alexander: "Who are you and what are you?" To this Alexander replied that he was a shepherd of the flock of Christ. "And where is this flock of Christ?" further inquired the wicked and suspicious governor. Alexander replied: "Throughout the entire world live men whom Christ God created, and among them are those who believe in Him: they are His sheep. But all such as you, who are fallen away from their Creator and are slaves to creation, to man-made things and dead idols, are estranged from His flock. At the Dread Judgment of God, they will be placed on the left with the goats." The wicked judge then ordered that Alexander first be beaten with bullwhips and then thrown into a fiery furnace. But the fire did not harm him in any way. After that, he was flayed and thrown to the wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch him. Finally, the deputy ordered that Alexander be beheaded. As soon as the judge pronounced the sentence, he became possessed by an evil spirit and went insane. Howling, the judge was led before his gods, the idols, and on the way his evil soul was wrenched from him. St. Alexander suffered between the years 270 and 275 A.D.


Nicander was skinned and then beheaded for his faith in Christ. His crime was that, as a physician, he ministered to Christian martyrs and honorably buried their martyred bodies. He suffered honorably in the year 302 A.D.



From every state the Lord chooses His army:

Everyone in whom the flame of love and faith burns;

From among physicians, sages, peasants and laborers,

From among emperors and fishermen--an army of martyrs!

The sword beheaded, the Lord received the wise Alexander;

The sword beheaded, the Lord took the merciful Nicander;

The sword beheaded eight beautiful, young apples;

Beneath the sword, the All-sustaining Hand received them.

Those whom the world scoops up and discards from its sheepfold

The Lord with His tender hand gathers as the most beautiful blossoms.

Shoveled aside as a weed, the first citizen Agapius

Was received by the Lord as His son.

Ten martyrs, glorious men,

Now sing in eternity in the angelic choir.

Not all deaths are the same; all die, but for what?

Some of the dead are blessed and others cursed.

Who dies for Christ's sake--with him is a blessing;

Who dies persecuting Christ--with him is a curse.


Love for anyone or anything, even love for oneself, can in time grow cold in man, be lost altogether and even be twisted into hatred. But the love of man for God, once gained and established, is more difficult to cool off, unless one loses one's mind. In the first instance man diminishes or eradicates his love either out of a change in himself or because of a change in the objects of his love. In the second instance man can diminish his love toward God only because of a change in himself and never because of a change in God. All of this is neatly and clearly explained by St. Isaac the Syrian: "There is a kind of love that is similar to a brook after a rainfall, which quickly ceases after the rain stops. But there is a love similar to a spring, which erupts through the earth and never ceases. The first love is human love, and the second love is Divine Love." St. Simeon the New Theologian, speaks about Divine Love: "O Holy Love! Thou art the end of the Law. Thou overcomest me; Thou warmest me; Thou inflamest my heart to immeasurable love for God and my brothers. Out of love, God became man. Out of love, He endured His life-giving suffering in order to deliver man from the throes of hades and bring him to heaven. Out of love, the apostles completed their difficult course. Out of love, the martyrs shed their blood in order not to lose Christ."


Contemplate the Lord Jesus when Pilate brought Him out before the Jews:

1. How the Lord was flogged by the Roman soldiers;

2. How, after being scourged, He was mocked by them; they placed a thorny crown upon His head and dressed Him in a purple robe;

3. How Pilate presented Him to the Jews, saying, Behold the man! (John 19:5).


on the prophecy concerning the desolate house

"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Matthew 23:38).

Why did our Lord remain silent at the judgment before the Jews and before Pilate? Because, prior to that, He had said everything that needed to be said. He foretold how the Jewish elders would give him over to the unbelievers, and how they would kill Him. Many times He had foretold what would personally befall Him. His apostles heard and carefully remembered this. He also foretold the terrible punishment that the Jews would assume upon themselves for their evil acts against the Son of God. And the Jews heard this--and forgot.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. The Lord foretold this about the Jews. And the Jews heard this and forgot it. But much later, many remembered these prophetic words, many of whom lived through the Great Evil, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, plundering it, burning it, dispersing its inhabitants and scattering them throughout the world. Many were beheaded or strangled, starved or crucified. The Jews, out of fear and vexation, forced Pilate to raise his hand against the Lord Jesus. Afterward the Roman Empire raised its hand against the Jews. On that day when the prophecy of the Lord was fulfilled, the Roman Empire, once represented in Jerusalem by Pilate, raised its hand against Jerusalem and her children with a very sharp sword. When Emperor Hadrian restored Jerusalem, he renamed it*) and forbade the Jews from settling in Jerusalem under penalty of death. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. From that time until today, Jerusalem was left deserted by the Jews as a nation. The children of these wicked ancestors who killed Christ were dispersed everywhere, except to their own home--even to this day.**) Lord, Almighty and All-seeing, forgive us our sins.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
     *) Hadrian renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" after his name, for he was called Aelius.
     **) This was written in 1928, twenty years before the establishment of the state of Israel (May 14, 1948).--Trans.
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