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1. The Hieromartyr Nikon.

Born in Naples of a pagan father and a Christian mother, he was an officer in the Roman army in Naples. He was not baptised, although his mother, unbeknown to his father, had instructed him in the Christian faith. Once, when he was setting off with his company to war, his mother advised him, if he were in trouble, to make the sign of the Cross and call on Christ to help him. And so, when Nikon's company was surrounded during the battle and close to final extermination, Nikon made the sign of the Cross and began to call upon Christ. At that moment he was filled with exceptional strength and rushed upon his opponents, killing some and putting the others to flight. Returning home, Nikon could not stop exclaming in wonder: 'Great is the God of the Christians!' After he had brought joy to his mother with his report of the victory by the aid of Christ's Cross, he set sail in secret for Asia, where the Bishop of Cyzicus, Theodosius, baptised him. After his baptism, he shut himself up in a monastery and devoted himself to study and to asceticism. However, Bishop Theodosius had a vision before his death, in which he was told to consecrate Nikon as his successor. The aged Theodosius summoned Nikon immediately and ordained him deacon, and then priest and bishop. By divine providence Nikon came soon after this to Neapolis, where he found his mother still alive. On her death, he went to Sicily with nine disciples, one-time comrades in battle, and there devoted himself to preaching the Gospel. There was a terrible persecution of Christians at that time, and Prince Quintianus seized Nikon and his companions and gave them over to great torture. One hundred and ninety of his disciples and friends were slain. The torturer tied Nikon to the tails of horses, threw him from a high cliff into a ravine, beat him and flayed him, yet Nikon survived all these tortures. He was finally slain with the sword and his body was abandoned in a field for the birds to eat, but a shepherd boy, possessed by a raging evil spirit, fell on the dead body of Christ's martyr, took hold of it, and was immediately healed. He spread the news about Nikon's body, and Christians came and buried it. St Nikon suffered and went to the Lord in the reign of the Emperor Decius.

2. Our Holy Father Nikhon of the Kiev Caves.

Nikhon was a friend of St Antony of the Caves and the spiritual father of our holy father Theodosius. After the tonsuring of the Boyar Varlaam and the eunuch Ephraim he was threatened by Prince lz'aslav, but the princess turned the prince's anger to godly fear and holy Nikhon was left in peace. Desiring to beautify the Church with icons, Nikhon prayed for assistance, and through his prayers some Greek iconographers suddenly arrived in Kiev from Constantinople, St Antony and St Theodore having appeared to them in a vision and sent them to Nikhon in Kiev. He was glorified for his daring asceticism and his spiritual wisdom. He became abbot of the Monastery of the Caves against his will in old age, and went to the Lord in 1066. His incorrupt relics are preserved in the Kiev Caves.

Author's note: In the Greek Synaxarion and the Athonite Patrology the New Martyr Luke from Jedren is commemorated on this day. He was taken to Constantinople by the Turks as a child and circumcised. He was greatly troubled in his conscience because of this, regarding his circumcision as the devil's seal upon him, which he could destroy only by suffering martyrdom for Christ. He became a monk on the Holy Mountain and went with his staretz, Vissiarion, to Mitylene, being murdered there by the Turks on March 23rd, 1802. Hanging in the air, the martyr's body gave forth a fragrant myrrh.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK