June 8, 2018

Holy Martyrs Nikandros and Markianos at Dorostolum in Moesia

Sts. Nicander and Marcian (Feast Day - June 8)


Markianos was beheaded by the sword,
And Nikandros said, "I will follow you."

Nikandros (Nicander) and Markianos (Marcian) had served some time in the Roman army at Dorostolum in Moesia when Diocletian was emperor, but when the edicts were everywhere published against the Christians, they forsook the army. This was considered a crime, and they were brought before Maximus the governor of the province. The judge informed them of the imperial order that all were commanded to sacrifice to the gods. Nikandros replied, that the imperial order meant nothing to Christians, who looked upon it as unlawful to abandon the immortal God, to worship wood and stones.

Daria the wife of Nikandros was present, and encouraged her husband. Maximus interrupting her and said: “Wicked woman, why would you have your husband die?” “I wish not for his death,” she said, “but that he live in God, so as never to die.” Maximus reproached her that she desired his death because she wanted another husband. “If you suspect that,” she said, “put me to death first.” The judge said his orders did not extend to women; for this happened upon the first edict which regarded only the army. However, he commanded her to be taken into custody; but she was released soon after, and returned to see the rest of the trial. Maximus, turning again to Nikandros, said: “Take a little time, and deliberate with yourself whether you choose to die or to live.” Nikandros answered: “I have already deliberated upon the matter, and have taken the resolution to save myself.” The judge took it that he meant he would save his life by sacrificing to the idols, and giving thanks to his gods, began to congratulate and rejoice with Suetonius one of his assessors, for their imaginary victory. But Nikandros soon undeceived him, by crying out: “God be thanked,” and by praying aloud that God would deliver him from the dangers and temptations of the world. “How is it,” said the governor, “that you just now desired to live, and at present you ask to die?” Nikandros replied: “I desire that life which is immortal, not the fleeting life of this world. To you I willingly yield up my body; do with it what you please, I am a Christian.” “And what are your sentiments, Markianos?” said the judge, addressing himself to the other. He declared that they were the same with those of his fellow-prisoner.

Maximus then gave orders that they should be both confined in the dungeon, where they lay twenty days. After which they were again brought before the governor, who asked them if they would at length obey the edicts of the emperors. Markianos answered: “All you can say will never make us abandon our faith or deny God. We behold him present by faith, and know to where He calls us. Do not, we beseech you, detain or prevent us; but send us quickly to Him, that we may behold Him who was crucified, whom you dare to blaspheme, but whom we honor and worship.” The governor granted their request, and excusing himself by the necessity that he lay under of complying with his orders, condemned them both to lose their heads. The martyrs expressed their gratitude, and said: “May peace be with you, O most clement judge.”

They walked to the place of execution joyful, and praising God as they went. Nikandros was followed by his wife Daria, with his child, whom Papinian, brother to the martyr Saint Pasikrates, carried in his arms. Markianos’ wife, differing much from the former, and his other relations, followed him, weeping and howling in excess of grief. She in particular did all that was in her to overcome his resolution, and for that purpose often showed him his little child, the fruit of their marriage; and continually pulled and held him back, till he having rebuked her, desired Zotikos, a zealous Christian, to keep her behind. At the place of execution he called for her, and embracing his son and looking up to heaven, said: “Lord, all-powerful God, take this child into Your special protection.” Then with a rebuke to his wife for her base cowardice, he bade her go away in peace, because she could not have the courage to see him die. The wife of Nikandros continued by his side, exhorting him to constancy and joy. “Be of good heart, my lord,” she said, “ten years have I lived at home from you, never ceasing to pray that I might see you again. Now am I favored with that comfort, and I behold you going to glory, and myself made the wife of a martyr. Give to God that testimony you owe to his holy truth, that you may also deliver me from eternal death;” meaning, that by his sufferings and prayers he might obtain mercy for her. The executioner having bound their eyes with their handkerchiefs, struck off their heads, and thus they delivered their souls into the hands of God, gaining from Him the crown of martyrdom.