Commemorated on March 23rd
Nikon the Holy Martyr & his 200 Companion Martyrs
The Monk Martyr Nikon was born at Neapolis (Naples). His father was a pagan, and his mother a Christian. He was not baptized, but his mother secretly instructed him in the tenets of Christianity. Nikon was still a pagan when he reached adulthood. He served as a soldier, and showed unusual courage and strength.
Once, enemies surrounded Nikon and his military company. In deadly peril, he remembered the Christian precepts of his mother and, signing himself with the Sign of the Cross, he prayed to God, vowing to be baptized if he were saved. Filled with unusual strength, he killed many of the enemy, and put the rest to flight.
Nikon managed to return home, giving thanks to God for preserving his life. With the blessing of his mother, he set off in search of a priest. This was no easy thing to do in a time of persecution. St Nikon took a ship to the island of Chios. He went up on a high mountain and spent eight days in fasting and prayer, entreating the Lord to help him.
An angel of God appeared to St Nikon in a dream, showing him the way, and he went to Mount Ganos, where many monks were hidden, headed by Theodosios the Bishop of Cyzicus. St Nikon received from the bishop both the mystery of Baptism and the angelic schema (i.e., monastic tonsure). Living in the cave church, St Nikon became an example for all the brethren.
When Nikon had lived on the mountain for three years, an angel revealed to the Bishop Theodosios that he should be consecrated Bishop, and should move to the province of Sicily with all the monks. Bishop Theodosios obeyed the angel, and then died after he had entrusted the 190 monks to St Nikon. After he buried Bishop Theodosios, St Nikon sailed to Sicily with the brethren, and so was saved from approaching barbarians.
By God's grace, St Nikon came to his native city Neapolis. He found his mother still alive, and he remained with her for the final day of her life. His mother collapsed on his chest with tears of joy and kissed him. Making a prostration to the ground, she said, "I give thanks to You, O Lord, for You have permitted me to see my son as a monk, and as a bishop. Now, my Lord, hear Your servant, and receive my soul". When she had finished this prayer, the righteous woman died. Those present glorified God and buried her with psalmody.
Rumors of St Nikon's arrival spread through the city, and ten soldiers, his former companions, came to see him. After conversing with the Saint they believed and were baptized, and went with him to Sicily. Having arrived on the island, St Nikon settled with the monks in a desolate area, called Gigia, near the river Asinum.
Many years passed, and there was another persecution against Christians. Quintilian, the governor of Sicily, was informed that Bishop Nikon was living nearby with many monks. All 199 monks were seized and beheaded, but they left St Nikon alive in order to torture him.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Your gentleness, do not take Your mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Kontakion (Plagal of Fourth Tone)
Of like discipline with ascetics, and rivalling holy Athletes in zeal, O steadfast and righteous Martyrs, you were offered to the Lord through martyrdom. For you had as your sure guide the glorious Nikon. Fighting together with him you sang, "Alleluia).