Friday, August 12, 2016

Saints Photios and Aniketos the Martyrs of Nicomedia

Sts. Photios and Aniketos the Martyrs (Feast Day - August 12)


Aniketos is consumed by the fire with Photios,
In a house of light for those who remained unconquered.
On the twelfth Photios and Aniketos were put to death in the fire.

These Saints flourished during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), and Photios was the nephew of Aniketos. While in Nicomedia, Diocletian spoke publicly and before the senate against Christianity in the year 303, and he presented various instruments of torture in order to terrify the people, for it was his desire to exterminate in whatever way possible those who called upon the name of Jesus Christ in every corner of the empire.

Therefore, when this tyrant blasphemed against the divinity and glory of the Only-begotten Son of God, among those present was the Martyr of Christ Aniketos, who did not fear the threats of the tyrant, but with boldness he confessed that he was a Christian. He rebuked and publicly scorned the error of idolatry, and even brought forward the fact that those who revere idols are dumb and senseless. Having said these things, those who worshiped the idols beat the Saint savagely with rods, to the point that one could see his bones in the wounds of his body.

Then they released a lion on him, which the Saint saw and became frightened. Because near the lion the crowd cheered with rage and madness, the lion roared against them with a frightful and striking roar. But as the lion approached the Saint, it became as calm as a lamb, and taking pity on the Martyr, he licked the sweat off his right leg, where it dripped from his face out of fear. After the Saint thanked and glorified God, an earthquake struck the city, which toppled the idol of Hercules and turned it to dust, and a section of the city of Nicomedia was destroyed and many Greeks were crushed.

With this, the emperor ordered for the Martyr to be decapitated. When a soldier approached the Saint to carry out the order, his hand became motionless and was unable to bring down the sword. For this reason the emperor changed his decision and tied the Saint to a wheel, and had a fire lit beneath it. When the bodily members of the athlete were cut from the wheel, and being burned from the flame, he prayed to God, and O the miracle! his bonds fell off, the wheel stopped and the fire was extinguished.

When this took place, Photios, the nephew of Aniketos, ran to him and embraced him. For this Photios was bound in iron chains with his uncle, and they were both cast into prison. They were then torn at, burned with fire, and stoned by the people in the theater. After all these torments, the athletes of Christ remained unharmed. Then their feet were tied to wood, and they were dragged by wild horses. After this they were harshly beaten, salt and vinegar were rubbed into their wounds, and like this they were cast back into prison, where they remained uncared for over a three year period.

Having become withered up from the many years of miseries in prison, the tyrant heated up the so-called Baths of Antoninus at Nicomedia, and he had the Saints enclosed there. While inside the Saints prayed and the floor of the bath split open, from which gushed forth a spring of water, making it appear as if the Saints were not in a heated bath, but in refreshing garden. The impious Diocletian then ordered a furnace be built in the shape of a funnel, established on iron columns. The Saints were put in this and prayed, and there they delivered their souls into the hands of God, and received the crown of the contest. It is said that the Saints remained alive for three days in the furnace. Then their bodies were removed from the furnace with iron instruments, and they were whole and in good condition, not one hair being harmed by the fire. This took place in the year 305. Their Synaxis was celebrated in their most-holy Temple in Constantinople, in the Strategion area.

Portions of the skull of Saint Photios are in the Athonite Monasteries of Iveron and Dionysiou. Portions of the relics of Saint Aniketos are in the Athonite Monastery of Great Lavra and the Monastery of Kykkos in Cyprus.

Unmercenary Saints

Though Saints Photios and Aniketos were not physicians in life, they are considered to be Unmercenary (Anargoiroi) Saints. This is made evident in the fact that they are invoked with other Unmercenaries in prayers of the Services of Holy Anointing (Unction) and the Sanctification of the Waters.


O holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, who did send Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who heals every infirmity and delivers from death. Heal Thou, also Your servant [Name] from the ills of body and soul which do hinder [Him/Her] and quicken [Him/Her] by the grace of Your Christ: through the prayers of our Most Holy Lady, the Birth-giver of God and Ever-virgin Mary; through the intercession of the honorable Bodiless Powers of Heaven; through the might of the honorable and Life-giving Cross, through the protection of the honorable, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John; of the glorious and all-laudable Apostles; of the holy, glorious and right-victorious Martyrs; of our venerable and God-bearing Fathers; of the holy and healing, Unmercenaries, Kosmas and Damian, Cyrus and John, Pantaleon and Hermolaus, Samson and Diomedes, Photios and Aniketos, of the holy righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna; and all the Saints. For You are the Fountain of healing, O our God, and unto You do we ascribe glory, together with Your Only-begotten Son and Your Spirit, one in essence, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Cave Church of Saints Photios and Aniketos in Phalasarna, Crete

Built by St. John the Stranger (Sept. 20) around the year 1050.

Two Churches to Saints Photios and Aniketos in Cyprus

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs Photios and Aniketos, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Another Apolytikion in the Third Tone
United in the faith, your nearness of kinship was made radiant by your divine struggles, O blessed Martyr Aniketos and Photios servant of Light. Pray that those who hymn your holy contest, may be granted the forgiveness of their sins.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
With anthems of praise, ye 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.

Another Kontakion in the Third Tone
When godly Photios saw thee contesting in the stadium, O Athlete Aniketos, he joined thee in the struggle and victoriously suffered all the torments. Together with him intercede with Christ our God, that He deliver us from all dangers.

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