May 24, 2011

Saint Nikita the Stylite and Wonderworker (+ 1186)

St. Nikita the Stylite (Feast Day - May 24)

Saint Nikita the Stylite lived in 12th century Russia, and led a dissolute life in his youth. Later, as a tax collector, he was cruel and vicious. However, upon entering a church on a certain occasion he heard the words of the Prophet Isaiah (1:16): 'Wash yourselves (of your sins), make yourselves clean;' with this a profound conversion was effected in his soul.

Thus converted and with a seared conscience, Nikita left his wife and all he possessed and entered upon the ascetic life in a monastery near Pereyaslavl. His first obedience by the abbot was to stand at the gate of the monastery for three days and confess to all his sins. When the obedience was over, the abbot shockingly found Nikita at the swamps shirtless, where he became covered with mosquito and gnat bites in an effort of repentance. Dressed then in a hair shirt, he entered the monastery and became a monk. His discipline led him, with the blessing of the abbot, to dig a well outside the monastery and cap it with a stone, and binding himself in chains he stood on there in vigil, thus earning the title 'Stylite'. He became well known as a healer. He healed Michael, Prince of Chernigov, of palsy.

Nikita the Stylite was killed 24 May 1186 during a robbery, the thieves having believed the hermit to have been bound by silver chains as they were shining one day while he was praying. They took the chains off him and carried them away. When they came to the Volga River, the robbers saw the chains were not silver but worthless metal; so they threw the chains in the river. The pious elder Simeon of the Yaroslavl Monastery of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, was revealed the chains in a dream when he saw three bright lights in the Volga River. He told the abbot of the monastery and many people gathered to go find the chains. When they arrived at the river they saw the chains "floating on the river like a tree." With reverence they were brought back to the monastery of Saint Nikita and placed in his tomb. Some time between 1420 and 1425 the tomb of the Saint was opened and his relics were found to be incorrupt. They lie in the Annunciation Chapel today.

Venerable Nikita is commemorated on the 24th of May by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Nikita, thou didst despise the lusts of youth with true discernment. In thy courageous life thou didst defeat the enemy and wast pleasing to God in thy prudence. Thou hast received the gift of wonderworking, and dost cast out demons and healest infirmities. Entreat Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thou didst endure death from thy servants for the sake of Christ, and didst receive from Him the incorruptible crown. O Venerable Nikita, who art praying for our souls, thou dost heal all who faithfully come to thy sepulchre.