Nicephoros the Martyr of Antioch
Saint Nicephoros, who was from Antioch in Syria, contested during the reign of Gallienos, about the year 260 AD. Through the working of the evil one, his friendship with a certain Christian Priest named Sapricios was turned to bitter hatred. Nicephoros, repenting of his enmity, tried both through intermediaries and in person to be reconciled with Sapricios, but to no avail. Later, when the persecution broke out under Valerian and Gallienos, Sapricios was seized as a Christian. When St Nicephoros learned that the pagans had arrested Sapricios and as enduring torments for Christ, he sent intermediaries to Sapricios, begging his forgiveness; but Sapricios would not forgive him. Later, as Sapricios was being taken to beheading, Nicephoros, hoping that Sapricios, at his end, in such a holy hour, would at last forgive him, met him on the way, fell before him, and fervently asked his forgiveness; but Sapricios forgave him not. For this reason, though Sapricios had passed through many suffering, and the crown of martyrdom was now awaiting him, because he disdained the chief commandments of love and forgiveness, the grace of God, which had been strengthening him in his torments, departed from him, and he told his executioners he wouldn’t sacrifice. Nicephoros immediately confessed Christ before them, and being himself beheaded, took the crown that Sapricios had cast away. Should the Apodosis of the Feast of the Meeting in the Temple fall on this day, the service to St Nicephoros is chanted on February 8.
Dismissal Hymn of the Saint (Fourth Tone)
Be quick to anticipate
Your Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of perfection and life from You, our immortal God. For since he possessed Your strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ powerless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion of the Saint (First Tone)
The soldiers standing guard
Bound fast with chains of love, you mightily broke apart the wickedness of hatred with manifest courage; and hence, O Nicephoros, when the sword had cut off your head, you was shown to be a godly Martyr of Jesus, our Incarnate Saviour; pray Him for us who honour your glorious memory.
Leavetaking of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple
Hail Virgin Theotokos full of Grace, for Christ our God, the Sun of Righteousness, has dawned from you, granting light to those in darkness. And you, O Righteous Elder, rejoice, taking in your arms, the Deliverance of our souls, who grants us Resurrection.
Kontakion of Apodosis of the Presentation in the First Tone
Your birth sanctified a Virgin’s womb and properly blessed the hands of Symeon. Having now come and saved us O Christ our God, give peace to Your commonwealth in troubled times and strengthen those in authority, whom You love, as only the loving One.
Also Celebrating Today:
- Markellos, Philagrios, & Pankratios the Hieromartyrs
- Teilo, Bishop of Llandaff