August 11, 2015

Synaxarion of Saint Nephon II, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1508)

St. Nephon of Constantinople (Feast Day - August 11)


Nephon is absent from his presidency below,
Standing beside Christ the president of all.

Saint Nephon, who was baptized with the name Nicholas, came from a noble family of the Peloponnese. His first letters were learned in his homeland, "and he had such a right mind that in a short time he surpassed all his classmates in his studies." At Epidaurus he became a novice under the virtuous Elder Anthony, who clothed him in the monastic schema and changed his name from Nicholas to Nephon. He was a calligrapher by occupation and prayer was never absent from him, together with silence and study. "He never read an ecclesiastical book without shedding tears."

After the death of his Elder he met the wise Athonite Zacharias and, having toured together to various places to support the Christians, they settled in Ochrid, in the Monastery of the Theotokos. When Zacharias was elected Archbishop of Ochrid, Nephon went with his blessing to Mount Athos and successively visited the Monasteries of Vatopaidi, Pantocrator, Great Lavra and Dionysiou, where he was ordained deacon and presbyter. He was beloved by all the Athonites for his rare wisdom and unusual humility. "All were in wonder at the prudence of his words. Whatever he said had such sweetness, that it was not easy to leave him, but due to the sweetness of his words even physical nourishment was forgotten."

Against his will he was elected Metropolitan of Thessaloniki (1482), and from there was elevated to the patriarchal throne at the end of 1486, where he remained until 1488. After his second dethronement in 1498, following a period of approximately two patriarchates, he was invited by the ruler Radul (1496-1508) in Wallachia to organize the Church and teach the people, "and all received him as an apostle of the Lord." He was accompanied by his venerable disciples Makarios and Joasaph. Immediately he occupied himself with great zeal in his work, saving the Romanian Church from intense papal propaganda, corrupt morals and negligence of the clergy and people, "and all glorified God, for sending them such a luminary, and leading them on the path of truth, and all called him the New Chrysostom." However, because the ruler was disrespectful of the divine laws, the Saint admonished him and withdrew to the Monastery of Dionysiou, where after amazing struggles he reposed. He had returned to the Monastery without being recognized and served as an animal keeper.

His sacred relics worked many miracles, and is kept in a splendid shrine in his Monastery, while his skull and right hand are in a monastery in Romania. His grave is beside the church of the cemetery of the Monastery.

His first biographer (1517) was his disciple and the Protos of the Holy Mountain, Gabriel (1527-1528). His service was written by the famous physician John Komnenos, who later became Metropolitan Hierotheos of Drystra. This service was revised and improved by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who also composed lamentations for him.

In Dionysiou Monastery there is a chapel in honor of the Saint that was built in 1782, and outside of the Monastery is the Kathisma of Saint Nephon and the historic shrine where he was received as patriarch, as it was revealed to the abbot in a vision, because it had been lost.

His particular memory is solemnly honored with an all-night vigil in the ascetic Monastery of this great Saint on August 11th.

Source: Monk Moses the Athonite, The Saints of Mount Athos (Greek). Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Your works shined, of piety, you illumined all, in the Church, elevating the ways of humility, glorifying Athos by your asceticism, bestowing beauty on the Patriarchs. Glorious Nephon, fill with divine grace, the faithful who magnify you with longing.

Read also: Saint Nephon II, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1508)