Commemorated on August 12th
Martyrs Aniketos and Photios of Nicomedia
Martyrs Aniketos and Photios (his nephew) were natives of Nicomedia. Aniketos, a military official, denounced the emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) for setting up in the city square an implement of execution for frightening Christians. The enraged emperor ordered St Aniketos to be tortured, and later condemned him to be devoured by wild beasts. But the lions they set loose became gentle and fawned at his feet.
Suddenly there was a strong earthquake, resulting in the collapse of the pagan temple of Hercules, and many pagans perished beneath the demolished city walls. The executioner took up a sword to cut off the saint's head, but he fell down insensible. They tried to break St Aniketos 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 became cold. Thus, the Lord preserved His servant for the edification of many.
The martyr's nephew, St Photios, saluted the sufferer and turned to the emperor, saying, "O idol-worshipper, your gods are nothing!" The sword, held over the new confessor, struck the executioner instead. Then the martyrs were thrown into prison.
After three days Diocletian urged them, "Worship our gods, and I shall give you glory and riches". The martyrs answered, "May you perish with your honour and riches!" Then they tied them by the legs to wild horses. Though the saints were dragged along the ground, they remained unharmed. They did not suffer in the heated bath house, which fell apart. Finally, Diocletian ordered a great furnace to be fired up, and many Christians, inspired by the deeds of Sts Aniketos and Photios, went in themselves saying, "We are Christians!" They all died with a prayer on their lips. The bodies of Sts Aniketos 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 occurred in the year 305 AD.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
Your Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for You received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from You, our immortal God. For since they possessed Your strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' powerless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
With anthems of praise, you faithful, let us all extol the warriors of God, the yoke-pair of Christ's majesty; and let all of us who love martyrs' contests crown with our hymns of song the staunch heralds of piety, who truly were friends and lovers of our God.