May 4, 2017

Saint Nikephoros, Abbot and Founder of Medikion Monastery (+ 813)

St. Nikephoros of Medikion (Feast Day - May 4)


Bearing a crown for his divine virtue,
Divine Nikephoros is carried off from life.

Our Holy Father Nikephoros lived in the time of iconoclasm, and was born to a wealthy family of Constantinople. Having loved Christ from his childhood, and seeing the heresy of iconoclasm spread, he withdrew from the world and any attachments to worldly things and became a monk at the Monastery of Herakleion in Bithynia. Then he withdrew into the mountains of a family estate where he lived in silence and stillness, occupying himself with fasting, vigils and prayer, and there he prayed to God that peace may come to the Roman Empire. When signs of peace came, he established Medikion Monastery.

The Monastery of Saint Sergios of Medikion, commonly simply known as the Medikion Monastery, and later as the Monastery of the Holy Fathers, was in Trigleia of Bithynia. The founder of the monastery was Saint Nikephoros in 780, who restored a ruined church dedicated to Saint Michael and built the monastery around it. Nikephoros served as its first abbot until his death in 813. Nikephoros participated in the Seventh Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in 787, where he indicates the monastery's full original name as "Saint Sergios of Medikion".

In his youth a boy named Niketas (Apr. 3) came to Medikion Monastery, and he was tonsured a monk by Nikephoros. After seven years of virtuous living at the monastery, famed for its strict monastic rule, Saint Niketas was ordained presbyter. Saint Nikephoros, knowing the holy life of the young monk, entrusted to him the guidance of the monastery when he himself became ill.

When Leo V the Armenian (813-820) came to the throne, iconoclasm began to spread again. Because Nikephoros was found guilty of being a venerator of icons, he was exiled and imprisoned in a dark cell. After enduring this isolation for his love of Christ, he reposed there in peace. When Saint Nikephoros departed to the Lord in his old age in 813, the brethren unanimously chose Saint Niketas as abbot.

Saint Niketas reposed in the Lord in 824. Both Saints Nikephoros and Niketas were buried at the narthex of the Medikion Monastery's Church of Saint Michael with reverence.