Prologue of Ohrid


August 26


Adrian and Natalia were husband and wife, both of noble and wealthy families from Nicomedia. Adrian was a pagan and the head of the Praetorium. Natalia was secretly a Christian. They were both young and lived together in marriage for only thirteen months before their martyrdom. When the wicked (nefarious) Emperor Maximian visited Nicomedia, he ordered that Christians be seized and subjected to torture. Twenty-three Christians were hidden in a cave near the city. Someone reported them to the authorities. They were cruelly flogged with oxen whips, beaten with rods, and cast into prison. Soon they were taken before the Praetor to register their names. Adrian observed these people--serene and meek, tortured but patient. He made them swear to tell him what they thought their God would give them for enduring so many tortures? They told him of the blessedness of the righteous in the Kingdom of God. With that, Adrian turned to the scribe at once and said to him: "Write my name with these saints--I also am a Christian." When the emperor learned of this, he asked Adrian: "Have you gone out of your mind?" Adrian replied: "I have not gone out of my mind--rather, I have come to my senses." When she heard of this, Natalia greatly rejoiced. As Adrian sat with the others, chained and in prison, she came and ministered to all of them. When they flogged and intensely tortured her husband, Natalia encouraged him to endure to the end. After lengthy tortures and imprisonment, the emperor ordered that the prisoners' arms and legs be broken with a hammer and anvil. This was done. With twenty-three fellow Christian men, Adrian gave up the spirit under the greatest of tortures. Natalia took their relics to Argyropolis (near Constantinople) and honorably buried them there. After a few days, Adrian appeared to her in heavenly radiance and called out that she should also come to God, and she peacefully gave up her spirit to God.


Tithoes, a disciple of St. Pachomius, was renowned among the ascetics of Egypt. He was abbot of Tabennisi Monastery. He lived his entire life in absolute purity. Once a brother asked him: "What path leads to humility?" Tithoes replied: "The path to humility is abstinence, prayer and knowing that you are lower than everything." Tithoes attained a very high degree of perfection--whenever he lifted his hands in prayer, his spirit rose into ecstasy. He died in the Lord in the fourth or fifth century. The Venerable Ibistion is commemorated together with him.


Jacob was a great Christian missionary in Abyssinia [Ethiopia].


See "Reflection" below.
*) In the Greek Synaxarion, the life of St. Ioasaph, the heir to the throne of India, is also found on today's date.  However, in the Slavic Prologues, as in this one, he is to be found on November 19.



The path is thorny, but in Paradise there are roses;

Sufferings are bitter, but Christ is sweet.

What is that sound in the darkened dungeon?

The hard anvil, the hammer strikes,

But, iron nor lead, it does not forge:

It breaks the martyr's legs;

It breaks the martyr's arms;

The martyr is Christ's soldier.

One white hand, noble,

Blood-stained, to the dust falls--

Saint Adrian's hand.

Saint Natalia took her husband's hand,

And with it, from prison ran.

She washed this hand, wrapped it in silk,

And kissed and bedewed it with tears.

Wherever she goes, with her, his hand she bears.

In sleep, under her head, she places it,

And to the severed hand, quietly whispers:

"O hand of my holy Adrian,

You have helped me often,

Again, help me, O hand;

To heaven, raise me quickly,

To where Adrian lives with the saints."

Indeed, her wait was short;

Adrian, to Natalia, appeared,

Than a king, more beautiful and brilliant,

And his heavenly voice invited her:

"Come to me, my sister, Natalia;

Come to me, and you shall live eternally.

To the Eternal Kingdom, the King summons you!


Occasionally one hears the godless words among Christians: "Even God cannot help here!" There is no danger in which God cannot help, nor are there any enemies who could conquer by their own power without God's permission. Do not ask how God will destroy the powerful army of our enemies; it is easier for God to do than it is for you to breathe! Read how God, by one apparition, terrified the Syrian army to such an extent that it dispersed, and Israel was saved: For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel has hired against us the king of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us (2 Kings 7:6). Read how Jerusalem was saved from the powerful army of Babylon without any effort on the part of King Hezekiah other than his pleading and prayer before God: And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred four-score and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses (2 Kings 19:35). God did not perform such miracles only in ancient times, but He performs them every time the faithful pray to Him. So it was in the year 1395 A.D., when the Tartar King Tamerlane [Tamburlaine] surrounded Moscow with his countless soldiers. The Russians brought the miracle-working icon of the Most-holy Theotokos from the town of Vladimir to Moscow, and all the people prayed, with tears, to the Most-holy and Pure One. Suddenly, for no visible reason, the army of Tartars withdrew hurriedly and fled. What caused this? Tamerlane had a dream in which clouds of saints swept down from the heavens. In their midst, the Holy Theotokos stood as Queen, surrounded by hosts of angels. The Theotokos sharply rebuked Tamerlane and ordered him to leave the land of the Russians immediately, and the saints raised their staffs at him. In great dread, Tamerlane ordered his troops to withdraw as soon as the day dawned.


To contemplate the greatness of David's soul (1 Samuel 26 - [also known as 1 Kings 26]):

1. How David entered the camp of Saul at night and, while Saul was sleeping, took his spear and cup [cruse of water];

2. How David's commander [Abishai] wanted to spear Saul, but David forbade it;

3. How David left vengeance to God.


About the sufferings [passions] of Christ, how Isaiah foresaw them.

"I gave My back to the smiters and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6).

Brethren, this is the prophecy. Now read the exact fulfillment of that prophecy: And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified (Matthew 27:26). Is not this what the prophet foretold? I gave My back to the smiters... And again: One of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand (John 18:22). Again: They struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, "Prophesy, who is it that smote You?" (Luke 22:64). Is not this what the prophet foretold? I gave My cheeks to them that smite... Furthermore: And they mocked Him (Matthew 27-29); And they smote Him on the head with a reed and did spit upon Him (Mark 15:19). This is what the prophet foretold: I hid not My face from shame and spitting. Every word of the prophecy is clear. It is amazing that the discerning man of God sees more clearly through the walls of several hundred years than an ordinary eye sees the bottom through clear and shallow water! God, by His irresistible power, opens the spirit of mortal man to see, by the spirit, events in the distance as clearly as the physical eyes see events close by. How can the All-seeing God Himself see through the marrow of our bones, through the fog of our thoughts, and through all the secrets of our hearts? He knows our thoughts even before they are born, and knows our desires before they are conceived. He is the only undeceived (and undeceivable) Witness of all events, external and internal, in the heights and the depths, and in the width and in the length. He witnesses to our spirit in truth all that our soul desires to know for our benefit, and for the salvation of our soul.

O All-seeing and All-wonderful Witness to all the secrets in heaven and on earth, our Creator and our Good Provider, You alone see the weaknesses of all of us. Help us--oh, help us!--to learn that which is necessary for the sake of our eternal salvation.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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