August 12th (VIII - 25)
Icon of the Martyrs Photius and Anicetus
Martyrs Photios and Anicetas and many with them (+ 305-306). PriestMartyr Alexander, Bishop of Comana (III). Martyrs Pamphylos and Kapiton. 12 Soldier-Martyrs of Crete. 33 Martyrs of Palestine. Monks Sergios and Stephen. Monk Palamon in Egypt (early IV Century). Monk Castor. MonkMartyrs Gerontios, Serapion, German, Vissarion, Michael and Simon of Garedzh (+ 1851, Gruzia).
The Martyrs Anicetas and Photios (his nephew) were natives of Nicomedia. Anicetas, a military official, denounced the emperor Diocletian (284-305) for having set up in the city square an implement of execution for frightening Christians. The enraged emperor ordered Saint Anicetas to be tortured, and later condemned him to be devoured by wild beasts. But the lions they set loose became gentle and fondled up to him. Suddenly there began a strong earthquake, resulting in the collapse of the pagan temple of Hercules, and many pagans perished beneathe the crumbled city walls. The executioner took up a sword to cut off the saint's head, but he himself fell down insensible. They tried to break Saint Anicetas on the wheel and burn him with fire, but the wheel stopped and the fire went out. They threw the martyr into a furnace with boiling tin, but the tin got cold. Thus the Lord preserved His servant for the edification of many. The martyr's nephew, Saint Photios, saluted the sufferer and turn to the emperor, remarking: "O idol-worshipper, thine gods -- be nothing!" The sword, held over the new confessor, instead struck the executioner himself. Then the martyrs were thrown into prison. After three days Diocletian began to urge them: "Worship our gods, and I shalt give ye glory and riches". The martyrs answered: "Perish thou with thine honour and riches!" Then they tied them by the legs to wild horses, but the saints, dragged along the ground, remained unharmed. They did not suffer either in the heated up bath-house, which tumbled apart. Finally Diocletian ordered a great furnace to be fired up, and many Christians, inspired by the deeds of Saints Anicetas and Photios, went in themselves with the words: "We are Christians!" They all died with prayer on their lips. The bodies of Saints Anicetas and Photios were not harmed by the fire, and even their hair remained whole. seeing this, many of the pagans came to believe in Christ. This event happened in the year 305.
Sainted Alexander, Bishop of Comana, lived during the III Century not far from Neocaesarea. He studied the Holy Scripture and knew many a scientific discipline. Taking upon himself the exploit of holy fool, the saint lived in poverty, occupied with the selling of coal in the city square. Many, seeing his face always black from the grime of the coal flames, sneered at him with contempt. When the bishop of Comana happened to die, then among the candidates put forth for election as new bishop -- one was a man illustrious, others were learned or eloquent, while yet others -- were rich. Then Saint Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesarea (Comm. 17 November), having been invited for the ordination of their choice, pointed out, that a bishop ought to have not only outward worthiness and distinction, but foremost of all, a pure heart and holy life. These words caused some to laugh saying: "If outward appearance and nobility of origin be for naught, then even Alexander the collier might be made bishop". Saint Gregory perceived, that it was not without the Providence of God that this man came to be mentioned, and he asked that they call him. The appearance of the saint at the gathering evoked laughter. Having respectfully bowed to Saint Gregory, Saint Alexander stood there deeply absorbed in himself and ignoring the sneering: Saint Gregory put him to the test, and the collier was obliged to reveal, that he was formerly a philosopher, and had studied Holy Scripture, but that for the sake of God he had assumed upon himself voluntary poverty and humility. Saint Gregory then took the collier to his own lodging, where he washed off the grime, and gave him clean clothes. Returning then to the assembled people, Saint Gregory in front of everyone began to put to him questions from Holy Scripture, to which Saint Alexander answered like a knowledgeable and wise pastor. Seeing this, all were astonished at his humility and with one accord they elected him their bishop. Saint Gregory ordained him priest, and later bishop. After the imposition of hands the new bishop spoke a sermon to the people, full of power and the grace of God. And everyone rejoiced, that the Lord had sent them such a wise pastor. Under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) the saint bravely confessed Christ, and refused to worship idols; after tortures they threw him into a fire, and there he reposed to God. According to other sources, Saint Alexander suffered instead under the emperor Decius (249-251).
The Martyrs Pamphylos and Kapiton were beheaded by the sword in the locale of Oliurea near Constantinople.
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos