May 20, 2020

Synaxarion of our Venerable Fathers Niketas, John and Joseph, Founders of Nea Moni in Chios

On this day (May 20th) we commemorate our three Venerable and God-bearing Fathers Niketas, John and Joseph, the founders of the Sacred and Royal Nea Moni in Chios.


The three Venerables now stand,
Together with the noetic beings before the Holy Trinity.

These Venerable Fathers were from the renowned island of Chios, when Michael the Paphlagonian (1034-1041) and Michael Kalaphates (1041-1042) reigned, and even during the reign of Constantine Monomachos (1042-1055). Having forsaken the world and the pleasures of the world, the blessed ones ascended the mountain on Chios called Provateion, where they found and entered into a cave, and occupied themselves with every form of asceticism according to the monastic conduct, eating only bread and drinking simple water once a week.

As the renowned ones were living here in asceticism, at night they would see a light, that was shining in the forest at the foot of the mountain. When they would descend to see what the phenomenon could be, immediately the light could not be seen. Therefore they lit a fire, and while all the other trees were consumed, a holly tree that was there did not burn, just like the bush of Sinai. As they approached it, they saw that it was completely unburnt. They also saw an icon of the Theotokos without her only-begotten child hanging on it. With much reverence they took the holy icon on their shoulders and went back to their cave. But the divine icon would leave the cave, and go back to the holly tree. When the Venerable ones saw this miracle, they built there, as much as they were able, a small church, which they dedicated to the Theotokos.

When Constantine Monomachos was exiled in Mytilene, the Venerable ones learned from God that he was about to assume his reign, so the divine Niketas and Joseph went to him, and consoled him in his sorrow, giving him the good hopes that it was God's will to grant him his kingdom soon. Constantine promised them, that when he became emperor, he would fulfill whatever request they asked. The Venerable ones pleaded with him to grant them this request: to build a luminous and royal church at the place where they found the holy icon of the Theotokos, at the holly tree that could not be consumed. Constantine promised that he would fulfill their request, and as a confirmation and security of this, he gave to the Venerable ones his royal ring, as a pledge and promise.

When he became emperor, the Venerable ones went to him again, and showing him his ring, they reminded him of the promise he made. The emperor therefore sent the necessary material for the church, as well as suitable craftsmen, and they built over the course of twelve whole years what is now known as the Church and Monastery in Chios of Nea Moni. They endowed it with dependencies, various properties, and other privileges, for the dwelling and rest of the monks gathered there, as well as for the reception of strangers and the poor.

After these things the Venerable ones passed their lives venerably and in a manner pleasing to God, and they reposed in the Lord at various times. Their honorable bodies were buried in a place called Phialion, and they are preserved till this day, working various miracles for those who hasten to them with faith.