Commemorated on August 25
Saint Barses and Eulogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes the Confessor, Bishop of Carrhae, suffered from the Arians in the second half of the fourth century. The emperor Valentius (364-378), wishing to propagate the Arian heresy, fiercely persecuted the Orthodox.
In the city of Edessa he removed Saint Barses, a champion for Orthodoxy, from the bishop’s throne. He sent him for confinement on the island of Arad. The Orthodox population there received the exiled saint with great honor. They banished him farther, to the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchos, but there also the warm welcome was repeated. Then Saint Barses was banished to the very frontier of the imperial realm, to the faraway city of Thenon where, exhausted by his exiles, he died.
At Edessa, the emperor Valentius placed the Arian pseudo-bishop Lupus upon the episcopal cathedra. Wolflike in name and deed, he scattered the sheep of Christ’s flock. The Orthodox population of Edessa, both clergy and laity, ceased to attend their church, which had been seized by the Arians. They gathered outside the city and celebrated the divine services in an open area.
After he learned of this, the emperor ordered the eparch Modestus to kill all the Orthodox who met for divine services outside the city. The eparch pitied the city, and he informed the Orthodox that they should not attend divine services. The Orthodox, fervent with the desire to receive a martyr’s crown for Christ, went as one to the place where they usually gathered for prayer.
Eparch Modestus, obeying his orders, went there with his armed soldiers. Along the way he saw a woman who hastened to the services with her small child, so as not to deprive him of the martyr’s crown. Shaken, Modestus turned back with his soldiers. Appearing before the emperor Valentius, he urged him to cancel the decree to kill all the Orthodox and to apply it only to the clergy.
They led persons of spiritual rank to the emperor, and in the lead the oldest presbyter Eulogius. The emperor urged them to enter into communion with the pseudo-bishop Lupus, but none of them agreed. After this they sent eighty men of clerical rank in chains to prison in Thrace. The Orthodox met them along the way, revering them as confessors, and furnished them all the necessities. Learning of this, the emperor ordered the martyrs to be taken two by two, and to disperse them to remote areas.
The holy presbyters Eulogius and Protogenes were sent to the Thebaid city of Antinoe in Egypt. There by their preaching they converted many idol-worshippers to Christ and baptized them. When the emperor Valentius perished and was succeeded on the throne by the holy emperor Theodosius (379-395) and the Orthodox confessors remaining alive after the persecution were returned from exile. The holy presbyters Eulogius and Protogenes returned to Edessa. In place of the dead and banished Saint Barses, presbyter Eulogius was elevated to Bishop of Edessa, and the holy presbyter Protogenes was made bishop in the Mesopotamian city of Carrhae. Both saints guided their flocks until their death, which occurred at the end of the fourth century.
About the opened prison and the lighted darkness
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
“That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves” (Isaiah 49:9).
Who is the greater prisoner than he who is bound by sin? Is there a greater darkness than the darkness of sin, death and hell? Who can loose from sin? “God alone”. Even the Scribes and Pharisees themselves acknowledged this. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (St. Mark 2:7). Christ released many from sin, and made them free and whole. Therefore, if “God alone” is able to release prisoners from sins, then why did not the Jews acknowledge Him as God? The reason being is that they were bound by sin and were unable logically to reflect to the end, nor yet did they allow the Lord to release them from the bonds of sins. Look and see into what kind of stupidity the wise men of the Jews fall: while on the one hand, they confirm that “God alone” is able to loose man from sin while, on the other hand, they accuse Christ that He works with the help of the devil! The devil is the one who binds, so how can the devil lose? The devil is the one who destroys man, how then will he save him? Where there are devils, there also is prison: sin, death and hell. “Christ alone” had the power, the divine, unequaled power to lead and to save the souls of men out from prison. “My son, your sins are forgiven you!” (St. Mark 2:5). “Young man arise!” (St. Luke 7:14) “Lazarus, come forth!” (St. John 11:43). By His mighty word He removed the bonds of the sinners and led the dead into the light of life. By His descent into Hell, he destroyed the throne of Satan and freed the souls of the righteous ones. By His resurrection, He fully and completely revealed His irresistible authority over all the diabolical bonds of the devil, over all the intrigues of hell and over the “last enemy death”: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
O Lord, Victor over demons, Liberator from sin, Raiser of the dead, You do we worship and to You do we pray: free us, resurrect us and bless us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
The superhuman courage and readiness of our Christian foretellers to endure all sufferings and voluntary death for Christ, evoked fear on their tormentors. Emperor Maximian, a fierce and merciless persecutor of Christians, ordered his pro-consul in Antioch to release St. Andrew Stratelates from prison to freedom out of fear that the people, who respected Andrew more than they did the emperor, would rebel. Emperor Valens ordered his eparch in Edessa to slay all Christians who opposed Arius. The eparch had more human compassion than the emperor and secretly warned the Christians at night not to come out of the city the following day into the field where they usually held services (since the Arians had seized all the churches in the city) so that they would not be killed. The next day, contrary to this warning, all the Christians set out happily to the field, rejoicing that they will suffer and die for the True Faith. The eparch, going with the soldiers from the city, saw a Christian woman with a child in her arms as she hurried past the soldiers toward the field. The eparch said to her: “Have you not heard that the eparch, with his soldiers, will come and kill all that he finds there?” The woman answered: “I heard and, because of that, I am hurrying that I may die for Christ with the others.” The eparch further asked: “And why are you taking this child with you?” The woman replied: “I also want my child to become worthy of martyrdom together with me.” Hearing and seeing this, the eparch became frightened and returned and informed the emperor. The emperor became greatly frightened and revoked his order concerning the massacre.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
St. Tithoes of the Thebaid, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great.
If an Idiomelon be appointed. Glory …, In Tone VI:
Preserving within thee the original image untainted, * and through fasting setting thy mind as master over the pernicious passions, * thou didst ascend as far as man is able unto heights of the divine likeness; * manfully restraining thy human nature, * and taking care to subdue the weaker unto the higher, * thou didst make the flesh subject to the spirit, * wherefore thou, O hermit, wast revealed as an instructor of monks, * a teacher of the blessed life, * and a most certain rule of virtue. * And now, in the heavens, no longer ‘seeing through a glass, darkly’ * thou, O Father Tithoes, * clearly beholdeth the Holy Trinity, * do thou ever entreat God, on behalf of those who in faith and love honor thee.