The Holy Martyr Nicephorus
(February 9)

The life of this holy martyr demonstrates clearly how God casts down pride and crowns humility and brotherly love with glory. There lived in Antioch two intimate friends, the learned priest Sa-pricius and the ordinary, simple townsman Nicephorus. Their friendship somehow turned to a terrible mutual hatred. Nicephorus, who feared God, tried many times to establish peace with the priest, but the latter would not respond. When a persecu-tion of Christians broke out, the priest Sapricius was condemned to death and brought to the place of execution. Nicephorus stood in great distress in the path Sapricius was to take, begging him to for-give him before dying, and to part in peace. `I pray thee, thou mar-tyr of Christ', said Nicephorus, `forgive me if I have in any way sin-ned against thee.' Sapricius would not turn to his adversary, but calmly and proudly moved on to death. But, seeing the hardness of the priest's heart, God would not have him receive the gift of mar-tyrdom and the crowning with the wreath, and secretly withdrew His blessing. At the last moment, Sapricius denied Christ before the executioner and declared that he would worship idols. Hatred had blinded him to such an extent! Nicephorus entreated Sapricius not to deny Christ: `Oh, my beloved brother, do not do this! Do not deny our Lord Jesus Christ and lose the heavenly crown!' But all in vain; Sapricius was unmoved. Then Nicephorus cried out to the executioners: `I too am a Christian; kill me in Sapricius's place!' The executioners reported this to the judge, who ordered them to let Sapricius go and kill Nicephorus in his place. Nicephorus joyfully laid his head on the block and was beheaded. And thus he was made worthy of the Kingdom and crowned with the eternal wreath of glory. This came to pass in 260, in the reign of the Emperor Gal-lienus.

* From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic - Lazarica Press - Birmingham 1985
Four Book Edition - Translated by Mother Maria - Dates based on old church calendar.
Please see our calendar for conversion between old and new calendar dates.


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