June 2nd (VI - 15)
Icon of the Saint Nicephoros the Confessor and Hieromartyr Erasmus
Sainted Nicephoros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 828). Martyress Maria (X). Monk Marinos (X). GreatMartyr John the New, of Sochav (+ c. 1330-1340). Martyr Demetrios (+ 1657). Opening of the Relics of Righteous Juliania, Princess of Vyazemsk and Novotorzh (1819). Martyr Constantine of Athos (+1819). Kievo-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God (1654).
Sainted Nicephoros the Confessor was born in Constantinople in the second half of the VIII Century. Deep faith and preparation for the deed of confessor were instilled in him by his parents, Theodore and Eudocia. They gave their son a genuine Christian upbringing, reinforced by the example of their own life. His father suffered as a confessor of Orthodoxy under the Iconoclast emperor Constantine Copronymos (740-775). His mother, having shared in all the tribulation with her husband, followed him into exile, and after his death she returned to Constantinople and finished her life in a convent. Saint Nicephoros received a fine secular education, but most of all he studied the Holy Scriptures and he read spiritual books.
During the reign of Leo IV (775-780), Saint Nicephoros received the position of imperial counselor. Situated at the imperial court, he continued to lead a strict and virtuous life, he firmly preserved the purity of his Orthodox faith and zealously defended the veneration of holy icons. After the death of Leo IV, during the reign of Constantine VI (780-797) and his mother Saint Irene, -- at Nicea in the year 787 was convened the VII OEcumenical Council, which condemned the Iconoclast heresy. Being deeply knowledgeable in the Holy Scriptures, Saint Nicephoros in the emperor's name entered into the Council in the defense of Orthodoxy, by which he rendered great assistance to the holy fathers of the Council.
After the Council, Saint Nicephoros remained for several years at court, but the whole life of vanity all more and more became burdensome to the saint. He retired his position and settled in solitude near the Bosphorus, spending his life in scholarly work, and in quietude, fasting and prayer. Saint Nicephoros built a church, founded a monastery, and led a strict monastic life even before taking monastic vows.
During the reign of emperor Nicephorus I (802-811), and after the death of the holy Patriarch Tarasios (784-806), Saint Nicephoros was chosen to his place: he received monastic vows and the priestly dignity and was elevated to the patriarchal throne on 12 April 806, on the day of holy Pascha.
Under the emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820), -- a passionate adherent of the Iconoclast heresy, there again began for the Church a period of unrest and persecutions. The emperor was not immediately able to begin open persecution against Orthodoxy, since Iconoclasm was condemned at the VII OEcumenical Council. The holy Patriarch continued to serve in the Great church, bolding urging the people to preserve the Orthodox faith, and he led the consequent and unremitting struggle with heresy. The emperor began to recall from exile the bishops and clergy, excommunicated from the Church by the VII OEcumenical Council. Having convened with them an heretical council, the emperor demanded that the Patriarch appear for a dispute about the faith. The Patriarch refused to argue about the faith with heretics, since the teachings of the Iconoclasts were already condemned in the anathema of the VII OEcumenical Council. He endeavoured all the more to bring the emperor and those around him to their senses, he fearlessly explained to the people the teaching about the veneration of holy icons, he wrote admonitions to the empress and to the city-governor Eutykhianos, the closest one to the imperial dignity, attaching at the end the prophetic words about a quick perishing of heretics from "the punishing hands of the Lord". Then the heretical council passed an excommunication of holy Patriarch Nicephoros and his predecessors -- the blessedly-reposing Patriarchs Tarasios and Germanos. Saint Nicephoros was sent at first to a monastery at Chrysopolis, and later -- to the island Prokonnis in the Sea of Marmara. After 13 years of deprivation and sorrow the holy Patriarch Nicephoros died in exile on 2 June 828.
On 13 March 847 the undecayed relics of the holy Patriarch Nicephoros, having lain in the ground for 19 years, were solemnly transferred to Constantinople into the cathedral church of Saint Sophia.
Saint Nicephoros was outstanding as a church activist of his times, "a credit to his era and his chair (cathedra)" and, having much served the Church, he left behind an extensive spiritual legacy -- numerous works of historical, dogmatic and canonical content.
The Holy Greatmartyr John the New, of Sochav, lived in the XIV Century in the city of Trapizund. By occupation he was a trading merchant, pious and firm in his Orthodoxy, and generous to the poor.
One time in accord with his trading activities he happened to be sailing on a ship. The captain of the ship was not Orthodox. Having entered into a discussion about the faith with Saint John, he was humiliated and held a bad grudge against the saint. During the time of the ship's stay at Belgrade by the Bosphorus, the captain went to the city-governor, -- a fire-worshipper by faith, and suggested that on his ship was a studious man, desiring to also become a fire-worshipper.
The city-governor with esteem invited Saint John to join himself to the fire-worshippers, blaspheming his faith in Christ.
The saint prayed secretly, calling on the help of the One Who said: "When however they lead forth to hand you over, be not concerned aforetime what ye shalt say, and ponder not; but what will be given you in that hour, speak ye that, since it be not ye that speaketh, but rather the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 13: 11). And the Lord gave him the courage and understanding to repudiate all the claims of the impious and to firmly confess himself a Christian. After this, the saint was so fiercely beaten with canes that all his body was lacerated, and the flesh beneathe the blows came asunder in pieces. The holy martyr prayed, thanking God, for being found worthy to shed his blood for Him to wash away his sins. Afterwards they put him in chains and dragged him away to prison. In the morning the city-governor gave orders to again bring forth the saint. The martyr came before him with a bright and cheerful face. To the repeated suggestion to recant from Christ, the intrepid martyr refused with his former firmness, denouncing the governor as a tool of satan. Then they beat him again with canes, such that all his insides were laid bare. The gathering crowd could not bear this horrible spectacle and they began to shout angrily, denouncing the governor, for so inhumanly tormenting a defenseless man. The governor, having the beating stopped, gave orders to tie the great-martyr by the legs to the tail of a wild horse to drag him through the streets of the city. Residents of the Hebrew quarter particularly scoffed over the martyr and threw stones at him; finally, someone grabbed a sword, and overtaking the dragged saint, cut off his head.
The body of the great-martyr with his cut-off head lay there until evening, and none of the Christians dared to take him. By night was seen over him a luminous pillar and a multitude of burning lamps; three light-bearing men made a singing of the Psalms and censing over the body of the saint. One of the Jews, thinking that these were Christians come to take up the remains of the martyr, grabbed a bow and wanted to shoot an arrow at them, but held by the invisible power of God, he became rigid. With the onset of morning the vision vanished, but the archer continued to stand motionless. Having told the gathering inhabitants of the city about the night vision and what was done to him by the command of God, he was freed from his invisible bonds. Having learned about the occurrence, the city-governor gave permission to bury the remains of the great-martyr. The body was buried near the local church. This occurred between the years 1330 and 1340.
The captain, who had betrayed Saint John over to torture, repented his deed and decided secretly to convey the relics to his own native country, but the great-martyr having appeared in a dream to the presbyter of the church, prevented this. After 70 years the relics were transferred to Sochav, the capital of the Moldo-Valachian principality, and placed in the cathedral church.
The Holy Martyr Demetrios was born in Philadelphia (Asia Minor) in a Christian family. In his early youth he was snatched away by the Turks and converted to Mahometanism. At age twenty-five, realising that he was torn away from the True faith, he openly confessed himself a Christian, for which he was chopped to pieces by the Turks. The holy martyr accepted suffering and death for Christ in the year 1657.
The Opening of the Relics of the Holy Nobleborn Princess Juliania of Vyazemsk: the account about her is located under 21 December.
The Kievo-Bratsk Icon of the Mother of God (1654): the account is located under 6 September.
The Holy Martyr Constantine was born upon the island of Mytilene into a Mahometan family. In his youth he fell ill with smallpox, from which he completely lost his eyesight and awaited death. A certain Christian took him to church and washed him with holy water. They brought him out of the temple completely healthy.
After a prolonged searching, he received Baptism on Mount Athos and desired to shed his own blood for Christ. The starets (elder) prescribed him to dwell in seclusion in complete silence, fasting and prayer, for forty days and to put himself upon the will of God.
Saint Constantine after this, having received a blessing, confessed his faith in Christ in front of the Turks. After fierce tortures, the judge gave orders to suffocate him. Saint Constantine began his suffering deed for Christ on 23 April, and finished on 2 June 1819.
The Memory of the Holy 38 Martyrs and the Martyred Mother with her Three Children, beheaded with a Sword, also is celebrated on this day. Their names and even the dates of the act are unknown.
© 1997 by translator Fr. S. Janos.