SATURDAY OF THE 9TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, DAIRY, EGGS
Obadiah the Prophet, Martyr Barlaam of Caesarea, Martyr Heliodorus, Anthimos, Thallalaeos, Christopher, Euphemia & her children, the Martyrs
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 8:1-5
Brethren, I want you to know about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints – and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
At that time, as Jesus was going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
Prophet Obadiah (Abdia)
The holy Prophet Obadiah [or Abdia] is the fourth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and he lived during the ninth century B.C. He was from the village of Betharam, near Sichem, and he served as steward of the impious Israelite King Ahab. In those days the whole of Israel had turned away from the true God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal, but Obadiah faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in secret.
When Ahab’s wife, the impious and dissolute Jezebel, hunted down all the prophets of the Lord (because of her quarrel with the Prophet Elias), Obadiah gave them shelter and food (3/1 Kgs 18:3 ff). Ahab’s successor King Okhoziah [Ahaziah] sent three detachments of soldiers to arrest the holy Prophet Elias (July 20). One of these detachments was headed by the holy Prophet Obadiah. Through the prayer of the Prophet Elias, two of the detachments were consumed by heavenly fire, but Obadiah and his detachment were spared by the Lord (4/2 Kgs 1).
From that moment Obadiah resigned from military service and became a follower of the Prophet Elias. Afterward, he himself received the gift of prophecy. The God-inspired work of the Prophet Obadiah is the fourth of the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Bible, and contains predictions about the future salvation of the Gentiles (Vs. 15) and that the Savior would come forth from Sion (Vs. 17). The holy Prophet Obadiah, whose name means servant (or worshipper) of the Lord, was buried in Samaria.
In iconography, the Prophet Obadiah is depicted as a grey-haired old man with a rounded beard. His scroll reads: “In that day, saith the Lord, I shall destroy the wise men out of Idumea.”(Obadiah 8).
Martyr Barlaam of Caesarea, in Cappadocia
The Holy Martyr Barlaam lived in Antioch of Syria. During Diocletian’s persecution against Christians, the aged Saint Barlaam was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed himself a Christian.
The judge, wanting to compel the saint to renounce Christ, ordered that Saint Barlaam be brought to the pagan altar. His right hand was placed over it, and a red-hot censer burning with incense was put into his hand. The torturer thought that a physically weak old man could not endure the pain and would drop it on the altar. In this way he would involuntarily be offering sacrifice to the idol. However, the saint held on to the censer until his hand fell off. After this, the holy Martyr Barlaam surrendered his soul to the Lord.
Venerable Barlaam, Abbot of the Kiev Near Caves
Saint Barlaam, Igumen of the Kiev Caves, lived during the eleventh century at Kiev, and was the son of an illustrious noble. From his youth, he yearned for the monastic life and he went to Saint Anthony of the Caves (July 10), who accepted the pious youth so firmly determined to become a monk, and he bade Saint Nikon (March 23) to tonsure him.
Saint Barlaam’s father tried to return him home by force, but finally became convinced that his son would never return to the world, so he gave up. When the number of monks at the Caves began to increase, Saint Anthony made Saint Barlaam igumen, while he himself moved to another cave and again began to live in solitude.
Saint Barlaam became the first igumen of the Kiev Caves monastery. In the year 1058, after asking Saint Anthony’s blessing, Saint Barlaam built a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, Saint Barlaam became igumen of the newly-formed monastery in honor of the Great Martyr Demetrius.
Saint Barlaam twice went on pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and Constantinople. After he returned from his second journey, he died in the Vladimir Holy Mountain monastery at Volhynia in 1065 and was buried, in accord with his final wishes, at the Caves monastery in the Near Caves. His memory is celebrated September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.
Finding of the relics of Monastic Martyr Adrian of Poshekhonsk, Yaroslavl
The Uncovering of the Relics of the Hieromartyr Adrian of Poshekhonsk and Yaroslavl took place on November 19, 1625. On December 17, 1625, under Patriarch Philaret, his incorrupt relics were transferred to the monastery he founded. The account of the hieromartyr Adrian is located on the day of his death, March 5.
Martyr Azes of Isauria and 150 soldiers with him
The Holy Martyr Azes and with him 150 Soldiers suffered at Isauria, in Asia Minor, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). For his confession of the Christian Faith, the saint was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch, Aquilinus.
One hundred and fifty soldiers had been sent to arrest the saint, but they were converted to the path of salvation and they accepted holy Baptism with water that sprang forth through the prayer of Saint Azes. The martyr persuaded them to fulfill the commandment to obey those in authority, and therefore to bring him before the eparch.
The soldiers and the saint confessed their Christian faith before Aquilinus, and for this they were all beheaded. With them the eparch executed his own wife and daughter, who had come to believe in Christ, seeing the steadfastness of Saint Azes under torture.
Martyr Heliodorus in Pamphylia
The Holy Martyr Heliodorus lived during the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the city of Magidum (Pamphylia). The ruler of the city, Aetius, subjected the saint to fierce tortures for his faith in Christ and had him beheaded.
Venerable Hilarion the Wonderworker, Monk of Thessalonica
Saint Hilarion the Georgian was the son of a Kakheti aristocrat. There were other children in the family, but only Hilarion was dedicated to God from his very birth. Hilarion’s father built a monastery on his own land, and there the boy was raised.
At the age of fourteen Hilarion left the monastery and his father’s guardianship and settled in a small cave in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. There he remained for ten years.
Soon report spread through all of eastern Georgia of the angelic faster and tireless intercessor in prayer. Crowds flocked to his cave to receive instruction, blessings, and counsel. When the bishop of Rustavi came to visit Hilarion, he ordained him a priest. Soon he was made abbot of Saint Davit of Gareji Lavra.
After his ordination, the holy father was praised even more among his people, and he decided to leave his motherland. Hilarion chose one of the brothers to replace him as abbot of the monastery and set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
On the way Venerable Hilarion was attacked by a band of vicious thieves. They sought to kill the holy father, but their hands suddenly withered. When the terrified thieves realized that God had punished them for raising their hands to kill the saint, they fell to their knees before Saint Hilarion and begged his forgiveness. The venerable father blessed them with the sign of the Cross, healed them and let them depart in peace.
Saint Hilarion venerated the holy places in Jerusalem, then settled in a cave in the Jordan wilderness (according to tradition, the holy prophet Elijah had dwelt in that same cave).
One night Saint Hilarion saw a vision: He was standing before the Most Holy Theotokos, in the midst of twelve men, on the Mount of Olives, the place of our Lord’s Ascension. The Holy Virgin said to him, “Hilarion! Return to your home and prepare a meal for the Lord, my Son!”
Upon waking, Hilarion understood this vision with both his heart and mind and immediately set off for his motherland.
When he returned to Georgia, Saint Hilarion learned of the repose of his father and brothers. His mother gave her only living son the family inheritance.
Blessed Hilarion founded a convent with the resources he had inherited, donated lands to the monastic community, and established its rules. Then he gathered seventy-six worthy monk-ascetics and founded a monastery for men. He distributed his remaining property to the poor and disabled.
As before, the news of Saint Hilarion’s virtuous deeds spread quickly through all of Georgia. Again many desired to receive his blessing and counsel, but when the clergy announced their intention to consecrate him a bishop, he abandoned Georgia for the second time. He took two companions and journeyed to Constantinople.
After the long journey, Hilarion and his companions finally reached Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor and settled in a small, forsaken church. During the evening services on Cheese-fare Saturday, the lamplighter from the Monastery of Saint Ioannicius the Great came to the church to light an icon lamp, and seeing that several people had settled there, he brought them some food.
The next Saturday, the feast of Saint Theodore the Tyro, the same monk returned to the church and saw that the brothers had gone the whole week eating nothing but a few lentils. They had not touched the food he had brought them. So the monk asked Saint Hilarion what they needed, and Hilarion requested prosphora and wine for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Then Saint Hilarion celebrated the Liturgy at the appropriate time, received Holy Communion, and served the Holy Gifts to the brothers.
When the abbot of the Great Lavra heard that a service had been celebrated by an unknown priest in a language other than Greek, he was infuriated and ordered his steward and several of the monks to chase the strangers off the monastery property. But Saint Hilarion responded to the steward in Greek and asked for permission to spend the night in the church, promising to depart in the morning.
That night the Theotokos appeared to the abbot of the lavra in a vision. She stood at the foot of his bed and rebuked him, saying, “Foolish one! What has moved you to cast out these strangers, who left their own country for the love of my Son and God? Why have you broken the commandment to receive and show mercy to strangers and the poor? Do you not know that there are many living on this mountain that speak the same language as they? They are also praising God here. He who fails to receive them is my enemy, for my Son entrusted me to protect them and to ensure that their Orthodox Faith is not shaken. They believe in my Son and have been baptized in His name!”
The next day the elder fell to his knees before Saint Hilarion, begged forgiveness for his impertinence, and requested that he remain at the monastery. Saint Hilarion consoled the elder and agreed to stay.
Saint Hilarion spent five years on Mt. Olympus, then journeyed again to Constantinople, to venerate the Life-giving Cross of our Lord. From there he traveled to Rome to venerate the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. On the way to Rome his prayers healed a paralyzed man. After spending two years in Rome, Saint Hilarion set off again for Constantinople. On the way, in the city of Thessalonica, the blessed Hilarion stopped for a rest at the home of the prefect. When he arrived, a servant woman was carrying a paralyzed fourteen-year-old boy out of the house, and she laid him in the sun. The saint asked the woman for water, and when she had gone to bring it, he blessed the child with the sign of the Cross and healed him. Immediately the boy ran to his mother, and Saint Hilarion quickly departed from that place.
But the prefect, the boy’s father, had witnessed the miracle, and he ordered that the wonderworker be found. When he had been brought before him, the prefect begged Saint Hilarion to remain in Thessalonica and choose for himself a place to continue his miraculous works.
Recognizing the prefect to be a true lover of God, the saint heeded his entreaty and agreed to remain. The prefect built a church in the place that Hilarion had chosen, and before long the entire city had heard about Saint Hilarion and his miracles.
Saint Hilarion spent the remainder of his days in Thessalonica. When the Lord made known to him the day of his repose, he called for the prefect, thanked him, and instructed him to love the monks and all the suffering and to be just and merciful.
The saint reposed on November 19, 875, and the sorrowful prefect prepared a marble shrine for him. Those who were sick and who approached Saint Hilarion’s grave with faith were healed of their infirmities.
The prefect and the archbishop of Thessalonica informed the Byzantine emperor Basil the Macedonian (867-886) about the miracles that had occurred at the holy father’s grave. The emperor in turn informed the monks who came to him from Mt. Olympus, among whom was the elder who once had tried to chase Saint Hilarion out of the church. Emperor Basil became intrigued with Saint Hilarion’s disciples and fellow countrymen through the stories of Hilarion’s miracles. Saint Hilarion’s three disciples were presented to him, and the emperor was so struck by their holiness that he sent them to the patriarch of Constantinople to receive his blessing. Recognizing immediately that the three elders were filled with divine favor, the patriarch advised the emperor to confer great honors upon them.
In response, Emperor Basil invited the elders to choose for themselves and their countrymen one of the monasteries in Constantinople and make it their own. The fathers graciously declined since they did not wish to live in the populous city. Instead the monks asked the emperor to build cells for them outside the capital. So Emperor Basil built a large church dedicated to the Holy Apostles in a place that the Georgian fathers had chosen in a certain ravine, where a spring of cold water flowed from beneath a little hill, and he carved a cell for himself as well. The monastery was called “Romana,” after the nearby brook.
Later the emperor sent his own two sons, Leo and Alexander, to be raised by the holy fathers.
Emperor Basil sought to bury Saint Hilarion’s holy relics in the capital, but the people of Thessalonica would not allow the relics to be taken away. In the end, it was necessary for the emperor’s envoys to conceal the sacred shrine and carry it back to Constantinople in secret.
The emperor, the patriarch, and all the people met the arrival of Saint Hilarion’s relics with glorious hymns and prayers. Before the special burial vault had been built, the emperor kept Saint Hilarion’s holy relics in his own chamber. Three nights after the relics had arrived, Basil awoke to an unusual fragrance. No one in the court could discover its source.
When the emperor dozed off again, Saint Hilarion appeared to him in his vestments and said, “You have done a good deed by preparing a shelter for my remains. But the sweet fragrance you smell was acquired in the wilderness, not in the city. Therefore, if you desire to receive the divine blessings in full, take me away to the wilderness!”
The emperor reported this wondrous turn of events to the patriarch and the prefect, and with their consent he brought the holy relics of Saint Hilarion to the Monastery of Romana.
Repose of Saint Philaret (Drozdov), Metropolitan of Moscow
Saint Philaret (Drozdov) was born on December 26, 1782 in Kolomna, a suburb of Moscow, and was named Basil in Baptism. His father was a deacon (who later became a priest).
The young Basil studied at the Kolomna seminary, where courses were taught in Latin. He was small in stature, and far from robust, but his talents set him apart from his classmates.
In 1808, while he was a student at the Moscow Theological Academy at Holy Trinity Lavra, Basil received monastic tonsure and was named Philaret after Saint Philaret the Merciful (December 1). Not long after this, he was ordained a deacon.
In 1809, he went to teach at the Theological Academy in Petersburg, which had been reopened only a short time before. Hierodeacon Philaret felt ill at ease in Petersburg, but he was a very good teacher who tried to make theology intelligible to all. Therefore, he worked to have classes taught in Russian rather than in Latin.
Philaret was consecrated as bishop in 1817, and was appointed to serve as a vicar in the diocese of Petersburg. He soon rose to the rank of archbishop, serving in Tver, Yaroslavl, and Moscow. In 1826, he was made Metropolitan of Moscow, and remained in that position until his death.
The Metropolitan believed that it was his duty to educate and enlighten his flock about the Church’s teachings and traditions. Therefore, he preached and wrote about how to live a Christian life, basing his words on the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. His 1823 CATECHISM has been an influential book in Russia and in other countries for nearly two hundred years.
The reforms of Tsar Peter the Great had abolished the patriarchate and severely restricted the Church, placing many aspects of its life under governmental control. Metropolitan Philaret tried to regain some of the Church’s freedom to administer its own affairs, regarding Church and State as two separate entities working in harmony. Not everyone shared his views, and he certainly made his share of enemies. Still, he did achieve some degree of success in effecting changes.
One day, Archimandrite Anthony (Medvedev), a disciple of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (January 2), paid a call on his diocesan hierarch. During their conversation, Father Anthony spoke of the patristic teaching on unceasing prayer, and he may have told the Metropolitan something of Saint Seraphim. Saint Philaret felt a deep spiritual kinship with Father Anthony, who soon became his Elder. He made no important decision concerning diocesan affairs, or his own spiritual life, without consulting Father Anthony. Saint Seraphim once told Father Anthony that he would become the igumen of a great monastery, and gave him advice on how to conduct himself. It was Saint Philaret who appointed him as igumen of Holy Trinity Lavra.
Metropolitan Philaret wanted to have the Holy Scriptures translated into modern Russian, so that people could read and understand them. Father Anthony, however, criticized the unorthodox ethos of the Russian Bible Society, which was popular during the reign of Alexander I. In his eagerness to have the Bible translated into modern Russian, Saint Philaret at first supported the Bible Society without realizing how dangerous some of its ideas were. The first Russian translation of the Bible was printed during the reign of Tsar Alexander II.
Under the direction of his Elder, Metropolitan Philaret made great progress in the spiritual life. He also received the gifts of unceasing prayer, clairvoyance, and healing. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Saint Philaret himself was one of the forces behind the spiritual revival in nineteenth century Russia. He defended the Elders of Optina Monastery when they were misunderstood and attacked by many. He protected the nuns of Saint Seraphim’s Diveyevo Convent, and supported the publication of patristic texts by Optina Monastery.
Metropolitan Philaret was asked to dedicate the new Triumphal Gate in Moscow, and Tsar Nicholas I was also present. Seeing statues of pagan gods on the Gate, the Metropolitan refused to bless it. The Tsar became angry, and many people criticized the saint’s refusal to participate. He felt that he had followed his conscience in this matter, but still felt disturbed by it, and so he prayed until he finally dropped off to sleep. He was awakened around 5 A.M. by the sound of someone opening the door which he usually kept locked. The Metropolitan sat up and saw Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25) leaning over his bed. “Don’t worry,” he said, “it will all pass.” Then he disappeared.
Two months before his death, Saint Philaret saw his father in a dream, warning him about the 19th day of the month. On November 19, 1867, he served the Divine Liturgy for the last time. At two in the afternoon, they went to his cell and found his body. He was buried at Holy Trinity Lavra.
Saint Philaret was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1995.
“Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God
The exact origin of the “Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God is unknown, but the lettering on the Icon indicates that it is very ancient. There is a tradition that the Icon belonged to the holy Patriarch Athanasios III of Constantinople (May 2). This Icon accompanied him in all his travels, and so he brought the Icon to Russia with him in the year 1653. After the repose of Saint Athanasios in 1654, the Icon was brought to the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, remaining there until October 11,1849, when the Russian Skete of Saint Andrew was founded.
Metropolitan Gregory, who was living alone at Vatopedi, gave the Icon to the newly-founded Skete as a blessing from his monastery. The Icon was kept in the cell of Hieroschema-monk Bessarion (Vavilov), the founder of the Skete. Father Bessarion blessed the brotherhood with the Icon saying, “May this icon bring you joy, and console you in afflictions and sorrows.”
The glorification of the Icon took place in Russia, in 1863, when Hieromonk Paisios arrived in the town of Sloboda (Vyatka Province) from Mount Athos, bringing with him the “Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God. This image was decorated with rich silver and a gilded riza. Father Paisios placed the Icon in the women’s Monastery of the Nativity of the Lord, in the church of the Nativity.
When Father Paisios was about to return to the Holy Mountain, the eighteen-year-old son of a local priest, Father Vladimir Nevolin, who had been unable to speak for six years, was healed by the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Following a Moleben, he touched her lips and began to speak. After this, people began to make pilgrimages to the Icon, and many suffering pilgrims received healing and comfort in their sorrows from the holy Icon in those days.
The holy Icon was transferred to the women’s Monastery of the Transfiguration in the city of Vyatka with great reverence. At Slobodsky, an exact list of the Icon’s miracles was compiled by the same eighteen-year old young man who had been healed. The spiritual uplifting of the inhabitants of Vyatka was so great that on the eve of a Great Cross procession, the “Vyatka Provincial Gazette” compared the religious fervor to that when the holy Icon from Mount Athos first arrived.
When Father Paisios was leaving for Mount Athos, he left the list of the Icon’s miracles at the Monastery of the Transfiguration. At Vyatka, on June 26, 1871, the foundation of a church in honor of the “Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon was laid. It was built over a period of eleven years.
On August 31, 1882, on the Feast of the Placing of the Honorable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos, Archbishop Appolos consecrated the church, and every Saturday an Akathist was read before the Icon. Every two years, in remembrance of the holy Icon’s stay in the Vyatka region and the miraculous healings which took place, solemn processions were held throughout the entire diocese.
On November 19, 1866 at Sloboda’s Monastery of the Nativity of the Lord, a gilded riza was added to the “Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God from Mount Athos; and in remembrance of the Icon’s first healing (of the young man who could not speak), a particularly solemn service took place in the monastery. That day was established as the Feast Day of the wonderworking Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
On March 27, 1890, an exact copy of the Icon was delivered to Russia and placed in the Annunciation Cathedral at St. Petersburg, the representation church of Saint Andrew’s Skete on Mount Athos. Day and night, crowds of people came to venerate the wonderworking Icon. By the grace of God, this icon of the Mother of God was also glorified by numerous miracles.
Now the Icon is at the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in St. Petersburg, and a list of miracles is with the holy Icons in the suburban Cathedral of Saint Katherine. In 1999, the altar of one of the churches of the former Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the town of Sloboda was consecrated in honor of the wonderworking Icon.
In the Aleksievo-Akatov women’s monastery in Voronezh, there is also a list of the Athos shrine, which says: “This icon was painted and blessed on the Holy Mountain in the Russian Monastery of Saint John Chrysostom under the rector Hieroschema-monk Cyril in 1905.” The Icon was restored in 1999.
The “Consolation in Afflictions and Sorrows” Icon is in the form of a triptych. In addition to the Most Holy Theotokos, the following saints are depicted: The Great Martyrs George and Demetrios of Thessaloniki on horseback; Saint John the Forerunner and Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, the monastic saints Anthony, Euthymios, Onuphrios the Great and Savva the Sanctified; Saints Spyridon of Trimythontos and Nicholas the Wonderworker. The Icon is adorned with several rizas, one of which is gold.
Although the Feast Day of the Icon is on November 19, it does not have its own Service; so the Troparion, Kontakion, and Akathist for the Assuage my Sorrows Icon (January 25 and October 9) are also used for this Icon.
Saints Barlaam the monk and Prince Ioasaph of India
These Christian monks are mentioned in The Lives of Saints Barlaam and Ioasaph (November 19), by Saint John of Damascus (December 4). They suffered in the IV century when King Abenner ruled India. He hated Christians because they were converting his people to Christ, and some of them even became monks. The King issued a decree ordering all Christians to renounce their Faith at once, threatening to torture and kill them if they did not comply. He had a special hatred for the monks, and persecuted them without mercy. Some Christians, unable to endure the torments, submitted to the King's decree, but the monks rebuked him for his wickedness. Some of them fled into the deserts and mountains, while others chose martyrdom.
When his son Ioasaph was born, King Abenner rejoiced and prepared a feast for his people. Among the guests were fifty-five astrologers, who were asked to predict the child's future. They spoke in general terms of great riches and power, saying that he would surpass all who had ruled before him. One of them, the wisest of all, said that the child would not succeed Abenner, but instead he would enter a better and greater kingdom. Moreover, the astrologer said that Ioasaph would become a Christian.
When the King heard this he was angry and sorrowful, and took steps to prevent this from happening. He built a huge palace, and kept his son there. He would not permit anyone to approach the child, except for a few carefully chosen instructors. He charged them not to speak to the Prince about unpleasant topics such as death, old age, sickness, poverty, etc. He wanted them to speak to Ioasaph only about pleasant things. Above all, he did not want his son to hear anything about Christ or His doctrines.
When the King learned that there were still some monks left, he commanded heralds to go into the city and throughout the countryside and to proclaim that after three days, no monk would be allowed to live there. If any monks were discovered after that time, they would be executed.
Hieromonk Barlaam, an experienced monk who was filled with every divine virtue, was led by a revelation from God to visit Prince Ioasaph. To conceal his monastic garb, he disguised himself as a merchant. When he arrived in the city where the Prince's palace was he remained for several days asking about the Prince and who had access to him. Learning that the Prince's tutor was also his closest friend, he approached him and said that he had a precious gem, which he had never shown to anyone. He said, "Now I will reveal this secret to you, seeing that you are wise and prudent, so that you may bring me before the king's son, and I will present it to him."
The tutor asked Barlaam to show him the gem before he would consent to go to the Prince with such a dubious tale. Barlaam told him that the gem could not be seen, except by one whose eyesight was strong and sound, and his body undefiled. If anyone who lacked these qualities were to gaze upon this precious treasure, he would lose his sight and also his mind.
He mentioned to the tutor that he had studied medicine, and he could tell that the tutor's eyes were not healthy, and that he did not wish to be the cause of the tutor losing his sight. He went on to say that he had heard that the Prince's were healthy, and that he led a life of sobriety. Therefore, Barlaam said that he would show the treasure to the Prince.
At the palace, the tutor went to the Prince and told him about the merchant and his gem. When the Prince heard these words, he was filled with joy and gladness. He told the tutor to bring the merchant to him. Barlaam spoke to him of many things, preparing him with parables before revealing that his Master was Christ, the Son of God. He also proved to him the futility of idolatry. Then he told the Prince how God had created the world and everything in it, and how Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, but God promised to send a Redeemer to save people from their sins. He also spoke of Moses, and how God led His people into the Promised land. Then he proceeded to tell Ioasaph about Christ's Incarnation, His Crucifixion, His Death and Resurrection, and His glorious Ascension.
Prince Ioasaph came to realize that Barlaam was not describing a marvelous gem, but rather Christ, the Priceless Pearl. Barlaam continued his instructions for many days in preparation for the Prince's Baptism. Then he baptized the Prince in a garden pool, according to his wish. Afterward, they went into the palace, where Barlaam offered the Bloodless Sacrifice and Ioasaph partook of the Holy Mysteries.
Some years later, the King sent his chief counsellor Araches into the wilderness to search for Saint Barlaam, who had baptized Ioasaph. They searched the deserts and remote places without finding him. They did happen to encounter seventeen monks, however, walking at the foot of a mountain. They were seized by the soldiers, and Araches questioned them about Barlaam, but the monks refused to tell him where he was. Araches said that if they did not bring Barlaam to him, they would die.
The monks replied that they did not fear death, so he tortured them. When he saw that nothing would make them talk, he decided to bring them to the King. Several days afterward, they appeared before the King, who subjected them to further torments.
Seeing that nothing would induce them to betray Barlaam, the King had their eyes gouged out, and then cut off their arms and legs. All the while, the monks exhorted one another to accept death for the sake of Christ, and so they received their crowns of glory from the Lord. Saint John of Damascus compares the seventeen monastic martyrs to the seven holy Maccabees of the Old Testament (August 1).