India, which received the Christian Faith through the Apostle Thomas’ preaching of the Word, was ruled by King Abenner, a worshipper of idols and a fierce persecutor of Christians. For a long time, he did not have any children. Finally, his son was born, and was named Ioasaph. At the birth of the prince, the wisest court astrologer predicted that the prince would adopt the Christian Faith being persecuted by his father. Wanting to prevent the fulfillment of that prophecy, he ordered that a separate palace be erected for the prince, and that the prince never hear a single word about Christ and His teachings.
As a youth, the prince asked and was given his father’s permission to go outside the borders of the court, and as a result first saw that there exist suffering, disease, old age, and death. This brought the prince to ponder the vanity and pointlessness of life, and he spent increasingly more time in serious meditation.
At that time, a wise hermit, the Venerable Barlaam, had taken up his ascetic struggle in a far-off desert. Through a divine revelation, he learned of the youth’s painful suffering in searching for the truth. Venerable Barlaam left the desert, and in the guise of a merchant, went to India. Upon entering the city in which the prince’s palace stood, he announced that he had brought with him an especially precious gemstone which had the miraculous capacity to heal diseases. Brought before the prince Ioasaph, he began to lay out to him the teachings of the Christian Faith, first employing parables, and then teaching directly “from the [books of] the Holy Gospels and the [Epistles of] the Holy Apostles…” From Barlaam’s instructions, the youth realized that the precious stone was faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to believe in Him, and asked to receive Holy Baptism. After baptizing the prince and directing him to fast and pray, Venerable Barlaam departed to the desert.
At the instructions of a certain hermit, Barakhia, St Ioasaph’s royal successor, went to his cave, and discovered the incorrupt and fragrant relics of both ascetics. He brought them to his homeland and had them interred in a church erected by Venerable Prince Ioasaph.
Used with permission.