Today, 05Mar on the New Calendar, is the Feast day of the Martyr John of Bulgaria. For those following the happenings within the world around us now, the following should bring chills to the body, and strength to the spirit.
Pray for peace in the world!! Pray for persecuted brother and sister Christians!! Pray for their persecutors!!!
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The holy New Martyr John was born in Bulgaria in 1775. Since fanatical Muslims believed that they would be assured of an eternal 'paradise' where they would enjoy beautiful virgins and an abundance of food if they could force Christians to deny Christ and follow Mohammed, they spread no effort to convert Christians through flattery or by threats of death.
When John was still a boy, he fell with Muslim companions. Through various ways, he was led to renounce Christ and to follow Islam. He came to his senses when he was about sixteen, and was stricken with grief at his denial of Christ. He fled to Mount Athos, to the Great Lavra. There he spent his time in repentance under the guidance of an Elder.
He lived a monastic life of great strictness for three years, yet his conscience continued to trouble him. With the blessing of his Elder, he decided to travel to Constantinople to wipe out his apostasy by confessing Christ in a public way and by shedding his blood.
The young monk dressed himself as a Turk, which a Christian was not permitted to do. Arriving in Constantinople, he went directly to the Church of Hagia Sophia, which had been turned into a mosque. Before the Muslims gathered there, he made the sign of the Cross and began to recite Christian prayers. Then he said in a loud voice that he had been born a Christian, but had fallen into error and renounced Christ. Now, he declared, he wished to renounce the false religion of Mohammed in order to follow Christ once more.
The Turks fell into a frenzied rage when they heard his words. They seized him and began to torture him in various ways. 'Renounce Christ,' they said, 'and return to Islam, or you will be killed.'
Saint John replied, 'Without Christ, there is no salvation!'
The furious crown dragged the Saint out into the courtyard to behead him. In this way, Saint John received the crown of martyrdom in 1784 at the age of nineteen.