My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 15th of September, Our Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates the
Holy Martyr NICETAS the Goth.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Holy Martyr. Fourth Tone
THY Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as
the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal
God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants
and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption,
O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art Merciful.
Saint Nicetas, bearing the name of one who conquers, was a valiant soldier of Christ. The handsome and wondrous man of God was born of notable and wondrous parents of the race of the Goths. The Goths at that time were generally reputed to be barbarous and harsh people who lived by the Istros River, known by the local inhabitants as the Danube. It is a marvel that though Nicetas was born and raised amid such surroundings, he never adulterated the inborn nobility of his soul. Nicetas did not take on any of their harshness and their fierce way of life, nor their religion. Though he lived among them, his pure and good judgment conquered the hardness and cruelty with which he was surrounded.
From Nicetas’ tender years until his youth, he was inspired by the teachings of Theophilos, the hierarch of the Goths. Our Saint Nicetas helped advance the work of Christ by both the example of his godliness and his God-inspired words to convey to the Goths the words of life in their own tongue. Having been baptized into the proper confession of the Holy Trinity by the former Bishop Theophilos, Saint Nicetas never wavered in his Orthodoxy.
Athanaric, a profane and inhuman leader and an implacable enemy of Christians, heard reports of Nicetas’ fearlessness and great boldness in preaching piety. Many, on account of his teaching, came to believe in Christ. Indignant toward Christ’s witness among the Goths, they gnashed their teeth. They threatened Nicetas that they would kill him without pity unless he left off his teaching and attracting everyone to the Faith of the Christ. These threats of the unbelievers i no wise scared the holy man; much rather, they had the opposite effect, for with even more fearlessness and outspokenness he increased his preaching among the Goths.
Unable to further endure the saint’s freedom of speech, the impious, who were more beasts than men, revealed their long-standing anger and rage which festered within them. They suddenly came up to the place where Christ’s athlete was speaking the word of Truth. By force, they seized him and brought him to the governor of their district, Athanaric. They used every effort to make him forsake the Faith of the Christians, or else expect death. He raised his voice, proclaiming with boldness, “A Christian I am, and I prefer many deaths rather than deny the most sweet name of my Savior Christ, Whom I confess before all of you as True God. To Him do I offer all my reverence. I am ready to spill all of my blood for the love of Him…” Being unable to endure the martyr’s frankness, with one accord, those who drove away the truth rushed headlong at Nicetas. Some took up rocks, and others, clutched at pieces of wood, that they might shatter the martyr’s bodily members. According to the historian and Saint Theophanes the Confessor (760-817 A.D.), Nicetas’ flesh was scattered and his limbs were cut off. Saint Theophanes goes on to describe how, on account of Saint Nicetas’ unchecked desire for the Christ, he was cut down, scourged, and subjected to diverse methods of bodily destruction. The pagans then lit a huge bonfire and cast Saint Nicetas into the flames. In the midst of that furnace, the Saint, as a whole-burnt offering, chanted hymns to God that He might preserve him to the end with a pure and unadulterated confession of the Faith. Saint Nicetas surrendered his blessed soul into the hands of God in 375 A.D. and was bestowd the crown of the contest and membership in the ranks of the holy Martyrs.
At that time, in the land of the Martyr, there sas a pious Cilician Christian form Mopsuestia, name Marianos. He was a close friend of the holy Martyr. When the wondrous Nicetas suffered martyrdom for Christ, Marianos, unable to come to peace regarding the treatment of his beloved friend’s holy relics, kept on thinking how and in what manner he might be able to take up the honorable holy relics of Saint Nicetas: firstly, for his own sanctification, and, secondly, the pious Christians. However, the ruthless Athanaric forbade anyone to collect the holy relics of the Saint. This was not enough to dissuade Mariano’s from going to that place where the precious relics were cast. It was dark, however, and Marianos was wondering how he might find his greatly beloved Nicetas. While he was still pondering the matter–behold! –above hm a heavenly power and bodiless being took the form of a star and went on before him, guiding him in the dark through that field. At length, the star stood above the martyric body. Marianos recognized the body of the Martyr, which was intact. There was not the least destruction from the fire–only certain small traces which revealed that he was cast into the flames. Divine power dispensed that it should be so, for further proof of the miracle.
Marianos took up the holy relics and placed them in a chest which he had readied beforehand. Then, without losing any time, he left for his own country and with the help of Saint Nicetas, and without encountering and danger, arrived home in Cilicia. He, thereupon , stowed away the reliquary chest in his house with befitting honor. Marianos’ home became a fountain of innumerable healings.
Soon afterward, on account of the concourse of may people to Marianos’ dwelling place, the Mopsuestians built a holy church to the Martyr. They transferred his precious relics from the house of Mairanos to the church. Yearly, on the 15th of September, at the Church of Saint Nicetas, the martyr’s memory is celebrated with great reverence and joy, to the glory of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to Whom is due glory, honor, and veneration to the boundless ages of unending ages. Amen.
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God