05 January 2009

The New Aaron of Ochrid

Today, 23 December, is the feast day of St Nahum of Ochrid, and one of the sedmočislenici, the 9th-c. missionaries to Moravia led by Ss Cyril and Methodius of Thessaloniki, the Apostles to the Slavs. According to the ‘First Life’ of St Nahum, he was the ‘companion and fellow sufferer’ of another of the sedmočislenici, St Clement of Ochrid, after the death of St Methodius (qtd in Thomas Butler, ed. and trans., Monumenta Bulgarica: A Bilingual Anthology of Bulgarian Texts from the 9th to the 19th Centuries [Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic, 2004], p. 99). As the ‘Second Life’ of St Nahum tells it:

And Naum and Clement arrived in the Illyrian and Ohrid regions. In Devol’s ‘Cedars of Lebanon’, at the edge of Lake Ohrid—at the confluence of two rivers—Naum built a great monastery and the Church of the Chief Archangel Michael and All the Heavenly Powers, with the resources and at the command of the pious Bulgarian King Michael-Boris and his son King Symeon in the 905 AD. And after he had done everything in a manner pleasing to God, the blessed Naum rested in peace at a very old age, and he surrendered his spirit into God’s hands on the twenty-third of December. And his holy body was prepared for burial by the divine hands of Christ’s Bishop, Clement of Ohrid, and it was laid solemnly in its tomb in the right transept of the church. And God glorified him by great miracles, and he heals all kinds of pains and drives away devils. (Butler, p. 107)

In the Lazarica Press edition of the Prologue (St Nikolai Velimirović, The Prologue from Ochrid, Part Four: October, November, December, trans. Mother Maria [Birmingham: Lazarica, 1986], p. 362), it is pointed out that the Greek Synaxarion calls Ss Clement and Nahum 'the new Moses and Aaron’, because of their mission to the Slavs. Indeed, they worked so tirelessly to promote Orthodox Christianity in the Slavonic language, the translations they and their disciples produced were disseminated to Slavs all over Eastern Europe. ‘For four whole centuries Bulgaria was an important channel by which Byzantine spiritual life became known to Russia’ (Anthony-Emil N. Tachiaos, Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica: The Acculturation of the Slavs [Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary, 2001], p. 116).

The Sebastian Press edition of the Prologue includes the following hymn in honour of St Nahum, written by St Nicholas (Velimirović) of Žiča:

The Venerable Nahum, Wonderworker of Ohrid

Venerable Nahum, Apostle to the Slavs,
Was completely illumined with the Light of Christ.
Unshakable in spirit, like a firm rock,
By grace he subjugated the flesh to the spirit.

Fasting and prayers and all-night vigils
Cleansed his soul of evil passions,
And he became like unto the mighty angels.
God granted him heavenly powers.

The Lord subjected to him all the powers of nature,
And also the evil demons and the darkened passions.
He won over people and nations to Christ,
Healing infirmities by words and miracles.

He died, but died not; he is a citizen of the heavens.
St. Nahum even now gazes upon this world;
In body and spirit, he performs miracles,
And even now preaches Christ to all peoples.

O Holy Nahum, the pride of the Balkans,
God-pleaser and friend of the angels:
Great is your power, given by God.
O help us all to serve the Lord.


Esteban Vázquez said...

СРЕЋНА ПРАЗНИК, Брате! The feast St Naum is a Very Big Deal indeed; I'm delighted that you have noted it.

Also, I love that book by Tachaios. It was one of, like, 7 that I brought with me in the suitcase.

aaronandbrighid said...

I love that book too. Have you read Tachiaos's introduction to the autobiography (and its conclusion by Fr Mitrofan) of St Paisii Velichkovskii? It seems like he also has an article on St Gregory of Sinai that I'd like to get hold of and read.