THE PRIESTLY

June 2

From the Prologue

This saint was born in Antioch and lived during the reign of Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. He lived a strict life of asceticism on Mt. Lebanon and was endowed by God with the great gift of working miracles. As an bishop, he went out to preach the Good News. Arriving at the town of Ohrid, Erasmus, by his prayers, resurrected the son of a man named Anastasius and baptized him. At this time, Erasmus baptized many other pagans and destroyed the altars of the idols in Ohrid. For that he was denounced before Emperor Maximian who, at that time, was residing in Illyria. The emperor brought him before a copper idol of Zeus and ordered him to offer sacrifice and to worship the idol. St. Erasmus manifested so great a power that a horrible dragon came out from the idol, which frightened the people. Again the saint manifested great power and the dragon died. The saint then preached Christ and baptized twenty thousand souls. The embittered emperor ordered that all twenty thousand be beheaded and subjected Erasmus to severe tortures and then cast him into prison. An angel of God appeared to Erasmus as once to the Apostle Peter and led Erasmus out of the prison. After that, this servant of God departed for Campania where he preached the Gospel to the people and then again returned to the town of Hermelia where he retreated to a cave and desired to live a life of asceticism until his death. Before his death, he bowed down three times toward the east and with uplifted arms prayed to God that He forgive sins and to grant eternal life to all those who, with faith, would invoke his name. At the completion of his prayer a voice from heaven was heard: "So let it be as you prayed, my little healer Erasmus!" Completely joyful, the saint gazed up at the heavens once more and saw a wreath of glory as it was descending upon him and saw the choirs of angels, prophets, apostles and martyrs who came toward him to receive his holy soul. Finally he cried out: "O Lord, receive my spirit!" and died about the year 303 A.D. The cave with a small church dedicated to St. Erasmus, exists today not far from Ohrid and, from it, even today the great power of the chosen one of God, Erasmus the priestly-martyr, is manifested.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT NICEPHORUS

Great was Nicephorus, great among the saints,

Great was Nicephorus, as a giant among men.

And [Leo] the emperor with the name of a lion, was too small,

In spite and malice was his [Leo's] entire glory.

To lead the affairs of the State, the emperor is there,

And not the dogmas of the Orthodox Faith, to judge.

The dogmas to him, Patriarch Nicephorus interpreted,

But the arrogant little emperor pretended to be wise.

Even though emperor he became, a simple shudra he remained,

Not wanting to hear the counsels of the servant wise

The emperor banished the patriarch to a desolate distance

And himself, divine truth, began to interpret.

Great was Nicephorus, great in exile,

As on the throne in his dignity.

From within, was all of his greatness

And not false and accidental from today until tomorrow.

Nicephorus, by faith and purity, a saint became,

With a strong faith, fasting and humble simplicity.

And Emperor Leo they terribly slew,

Perhaps he would have repented but it was too late.





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