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Daily Scripture Readings, Saints, and Hymnography
The Prologue of Ochrid: Daily Reading
November 22nd

1. The Holy Martyr Cecilia.

Born in Rome of rich and eminent parents, she had a firm faith in Christ the Lord and a great zeal for the Faith. Vowing life-long virginity to God, holy Cecilia wore a rough hair-shirt underneath the costly raiment that her parents gave her. When they forced her into marriage with a pagan, Valerian, she spent the first night urging her new-wedded bridegroom to go to Bishop Urban for baptism, and then himself to live a life of virginity. Embracing the Christian faith, Valerian also brought his brother Tibertius to it. Both brothers were very soon condemned to death for their faith, but their zeal did not falter in the face of death itself. Taken to the scaffold, these two brothers succeeded in bringing the captain of the guard, Maximus, to the Faith, and they all three suffered together for Christ the Lord. St Cecilia buried their bodies together and was then herself taken for trial, having unwearyingly won over many pagans to the Christian faith. In one evening, she had won over four hundred souls. When the judge asked her whence came her daring, she answered: 'From a pure conscience and an unquestioning faith'. After harsh torture, she was condemned to be beheaded with the sword. The executioner brought the sword down on her neck three times, but failed to kill her; he only wounded her and the blood ran down from her wounds, being caught in kerchiefs and bowls by the faithful to use for healing. Three days later, Christ's martyr and virgin gave her spirit into the hands of her Lord, to rejoice with him in eternity. St Cecilia suffered with the others in about the year 230. Her relics are preserved in the church dedicated to her name in Rome . In the Western Church, St Cecilia is regarded as the patron of Church Music.

2. St Kallistos, Patriarch of Constantinople.

He was named `Xanthopoulos' after the cell of that name on Mount Athos, where he lived for a long time in asceticism with his friend Ignatius. Together with this Ignatius, St Kallistos wrote of his personal experience of a life of silence in a book containing a hundred chapters. This book holds a very important place in ascetic literature. Kallistos was greatly influenced by his teacher, St Gregory the Sinaite, whose life he recorded.

3. The Holy Martyr Menignus.

Born on the Hellespont, he worked as a linen-bleacher, and so was called 'the Bleacher'. In the time of the Emperor Decius (249-25 1), he tore up the imperial decree on the persecution of Christians, and was consequently thrown into prison. There, the Lord Himself appeared to him and encouraged him, saying: 'Fear not; I am with thee.' At that moment, his shackles melted like wax, the prison opened of itself and he went out. He was again seized and brought to trial. He was inhumanly tortured: his fingers and toes were cut off, and then he was beheaded. His severed head glowed at night like a lamp.

4. Holy and Righteous Michael the Soldier.

He was a Bulgarian by birth. With his friends, he went into the Greek army to fight against the Hagarenes in Ethiopia, there displaying an extraordinary fearlessness. He killed a poisonous snake and freed a maiden. Very soon after that, this righteous man entered into eternal life. He was first buried somewhere in Thrace, but in 1206 the Emperor Kalo-John translated his relics to Trnovo. He lived and died in the ninth century.

5. The Holy Apostles Philemon, Archippus and Apphia.

Archippus was one of the Seventy. The Apostle Paul mentions him in his Epistles to the Colossians (4:17) and to Philemon (2), calling him his fellow-soldier in the battle. The Christians' gathering-place for prayer in the town of Colossae was in the house of Philemon. The Apostle Paul, writing to Philemon, calls this 'the Church in thy house'. This was in the time when the apostles were consecrating their disciples to the episcopate - some to permanent sees and others as missionaries, travelling to various places. Philemon was one of these latter. Apphia, Philemon's wife, remained to serve the house- church with fasting. At the time of a feast of the pagan goddess Artemis, all the faithful in Colossae were, as was their custom, gathered at prayer in the house of Philemon. The pagans came to hear of this gathering, rushed in on them and seized all the Christians. They flogged Archippus, Philemon and Apphia as their leaders, then buried them up to the waist in the ground and stoned them. Philemon and Apphia died of this, but they took Archippus out of the hole barely alive and left him for the children to play with. They took knives and stabbed him all over, and thus this fellow-soldier of Paul's in the battle made a good end of his earthly road.


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