The Menologion is not a liturgical book per se; rather, it is a supplement to the Menaion, containing the lives of the saints commemorated throughout the year. The Menologion is sometimes called a Synaxarion, from synaxis, a liturgical service in honor of a saint; in the Greek tradition, the day's Synaxarion entry is read at Matins, between odes 6 and 7 of the canon. The term "Prologue" is also used, to indicate that the lives of the saints form an introduction to the Church's dogmatic, ascetic and social teachings:
In its content, a Prologue is nothing other than an expanded and annotated Calendar... The Calendar was the first book that I saw and took in my hands as a child. At home in the village, it stood behind the icon and was handled with reverence and put back with care in its own place. It was to me a mysterious and, at that time, magical book of names, nothing but names, without content or explanation. I had no idea of the vastness hidden in those names... What did they mean? I could now reply thus: They mean that the person is all-important... The saints are a burnished mirror in which are reflected the beaty and strength and majesty of Christ.Whether called a Menologion, a Prologue, or a Synaxarion, such a work is a valuable companion to the liturgy.
(Bishop Nikolai Velimirović, The Prologue from Ochrid, Preface)
Contents of the MenologionThe Menologion is usaully a multi-volume work. It contains stories of the saints and of the various historical commemorations in the fixed calendar. Each day's entry may describe all the saints of the day, or only a single saint, and may be expanded with a homily, scriptural quote, or hymn.
The Menologion in Church Slavonic
The old Slavonic Prologue, in many different editions, formed a staple of the devotional life in Eastern Europe for many years. However, as Nikolai Velimirović, the famed Serbian Orthodox bishop of Ochrid, noted in 1928, "..because of the language in which the latter (the Slavonic Prologue) is written, (it) has become inaccessible to the Slav peoples of the present day. Bishop Nikolai translated the Slavonic Prologue into Serbo-Croatian, and the resulting work is read before meals in every Serbian monastery, and it widely used for devotional reading up to the present time.
The Menologion in English
Lazarica Press of Birmingham, England has published a four-volume English translation of the Bishop Nikolai's Prologue from Ochrid; this work is considered a classic of Orthodox devotional literature.The Menaion for the Divine Liturgy prepared by the Metropolitan Cantor Institute provides a short synaxarion entry for each day of the year, according to the calendar in the Ruthenian Apostol.