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Nicephoros the Martyr of Antioch

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February 9

Reading:

This Martyr, who was from Antioch in Syria, contested during the reign of Gallienus, about the year 260. Through the working of the evil one, his friendship with a certain Christian priest named Sapricius was turned to bitter hatred. Nicephoros, repenting of his enmity, tried both through intermediaries and in person to be reconciled with Sapricius, but to no avail. Later, when the persecution broke out under Valerian and Gallienus, Sapricius was seized as a Christian. When Saint Nicephoros learned that Sapricius had been arrested by the pagans and was enduring torments for Christ, he sent intermediaries to Sapricius, begging his forgiveness; but Sapricius would not forgive him. Later, as Sapricius was being taken to beheading, Nicephoros, hoping that Sapricius, at his end, in such a holy hour, would at last forgive him, met him on the way, fell before him, and fervently asked his forgiveness; but Sapricius forgave him not. Wherefore, though Sapricius had passed through many sufferings, and the crown of martyrdom was now awaiting him, because he disdained the chief commandments of love and forgiveness, the grace of God, which had been strengthening him in his torments, departed from him, and he told his executioners he would sacrifice. Nicephoros immediately confessed Christ before them, and being himself beheaded, took the crown that Sapricius had cast away.

Should the Apodosis of the Feast of the Meeting in the Temple fall on this day the service to Saint Nicephoros is chanted on the 8th.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the First Tone

Bound fast with chains of love, thou didst mightily sunder the wickedness of hatred with manifest courage, and hence, O Nicephoros, when the sword had cut off thy head, thou wast shown to be a godly Martyr of Jesus, our Incarnate Saviour; pray Him for us who honor thy glorious memory.