The holy Martyr Nestor was very young in age, handsome in appearance, and he was known to the holy Great Martyr Demetrios (October 26), for he had instructed Nestor in the faith.
The Emperor was visiting Thessaloniki, and he built a high platform in the midst of the city so that a gigantic barbarian named Lyaios could wrestle there and be seen by everyone. Beneath the platform many spears and other sharp weapons were placed pointing upward. When Lyaios defeated his opponents, he threw them down onto the spears and they died. Many Christians were forced to fight Lyaios, and were killed. When Nestor saw how Emperor Maximian rejoiced over the victories of his champion, he disdained his pride. Seeing the miracles of Saint Demetrios, however, he took courage and went to the prison where the holy Martyr was confined, and fell at his feet.
“Pray for me, O Servant of God Demetrios,” he said, “that by your prayers, God may help me to beat Lyaios, and put an end to him who brings reproach upon the Christians.”
The Saint, after sealing Nestor with the Sign of the Cross, told him that he would prevail over Lyaios, and then suffer for Christ. Nestor mounted the platform without fear and exclaimed: “Help me, O God of Demetrios.” After he defeated Lyaios, he hurled him down onto the spears, where he gave up his wretched soul.
Maximian became enraged and ordered that both Nestor and Demetrios should be put to death. Saint Demetrios was stabbed with spears, and Saint Nestor was beheaded. Thus, by his example Saint Nestor teaches us that in every human challenge we must say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Psalm 117/118:6, Hebrews 13:6).
As mentioned in the account concerning Saint Demetrius (October 26), this Saint contested during the reign of Maximian, in the year 290.
The age at which he appears is young, in fact according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite it was “when the hairs of the beard begin to grow”, while Saint Damaskinos the Studite mentions he was “around twenty years old”. Dionysios from Fourna says he was “young and without a beard” and Photis Kontoglou says he was “young without a mustache and just beginning to grow a beard”. The teacher of the Gospel, Michael Galanos, identifies his form as beautiful: “He therefore bent his blonde and beautiful head and gave his last breathe with the striking of the sword, in order that he may ascend even more beautiful, to be with the ruler of life, the source of immortal beauty.” Scholars of his life therefore determine his age and form as directly related to his story, since the hagiography and the iconography around his person coincide.
For his status it is stated that he was “from among the commoners”, ie a citizen. Theodoros Metochites points out that he was an “excellent hoplite of Christ” and the Archbishop of Thessaloniki Plotinos preserves the testimony that Saint Nestor is characterized as “an invincible soldier of Christ”.
From his childhood he embraced Christianity and his training in the faith and the spiritual life he owed entirely to Saint Demetrios.
Saint Demetrios was the offspring of a noble family of the historic city. He enlisted early in the Roman army and emerged as a brave and honest official of the emperor and over time received the title of Grand Duke. He was a Christian with a fiery faith and zealous missionary, exerting great influence on the Christians and especially on the young people of the city, whom he catechized, baptized, preached to and cultivated spiritually. The public confession of his faith brought him to prison.
Saint Demetrius blessed him and assured him that “you will both be victorious over Lyaios and be martyred for Christ”. Armored with the blessing of his spiritual guide, he hurried happily to the stadium in Thessaloniki. And after he made the sign of the Holy Cross and invoked the power from on high with the prayers of his spiritual anointer, saying “God of Demetrios help me”, he overcame and killed with his small sword the giant pagan Lyaios. And as the various hagiographic texts typically say, the sword “penetrated” the heart of Maximian after this victory of the young Nestor humiliating the emperor before the persecuted Christians. Enraged, Maximian attributed Nestor’s act to magical power and called him to defend himself to prove his satanic art or to point out his accomplices.
Happily, the bloodthirsty emperor ordered “Nestor as a Christian to be decapitated in the western part of the city, at the so-called golden gate”. His abominable order was carried out “by his own sword” with which Lyaios was killed. The executioner was the prefector Minoukianos.
The funeral of the two Saints was undertaken by the young Loupos, a child and also the spiritual son of Saint Demetrios who, with the blood-stained cloak and the ring of Saint Demetrios, made the sign of the cross over the Christians and healed them. A little later, however, he, with a martyr’s death, followed them to the Kingdom of Heaven. The memory of Saint Demetrios is celebrated on October 26, Saint Nestor on October 27 and Saint Loupos on August 23.
The oldest known canon to Saint Nestor was composed by the stylus pen of Joseph the Hymnographer and bears the acrostic: “Τιμώ σε πιστώς μάρτυς ηγλαϊσμένε, Ιωσήφ” (“I honor you faithful glorious martyr, Joseph”). A complete service can be found in the Library of the Kyriakon of the Skete of the Holy Trinity of Kavsokalyva (Codex 159). In recent years, a Service, Supplicatory Canon, etc. were composed by the Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, Eldress Isidora Agierotheitissa and various hymns by Archimandrite Nikodemos Aerakis and Nun Synkletike Chrysokastritissa.
Churches and chapels of Saint Nestor are located near the Kaftanzoglio Stadium at 159 Agiou Dimitriou Street in Thessaloniki, on the second floor of the Christian Refuge of Thessaloniki, in the village of Schinias, Veria, in Kokkinochori, Eleftheroupolis, in Melissi, Corinth, in the Monastery of Saint Prokopios in Pyli of Trikala.
Relics of Saint Nestor are venerated in the Mount Athos Monasteries of Zographou, Iveron, Gregoriou, in the Meteora Monastery of All Saints Barlaam, in the Holy Monastery of Saint Panteleimon of Chrysokastro in Eleftheroupolis, in the Holy Monastery of Emialon in Demetsana, and in the beautiful Church of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki.
His holy figure is depicted in many old Churches and Monasteries, both in Mount Athos and outside. Also frescoes of the post-Byzantine period are found in historic monasteries of Romania where he is presented in a prominent position next to Saint Demetrios standing in military garb.
Finally, in the Metropolis of Ierapetra and Siteia as well as Didymoteicho, Orestiada and Soufli, “Nestoria” is held every year, with events in honor of Saint Nestor as the patron saint of youth and sports.
Composed by Nun Isidora Agierotheitissa
Tone 1. Citizen of the desert.
Source: oca.org / goarch.org / John Sanidopoulos.