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Removal of the relics of Nicephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople (13 March)

Saint Nikēphóros was a dignitary at the court of the empress Irene (797-802), and then after receiving monastic tonsure, he became known for his piety. In the year 806 he was elevated to the patriarchal throne. The saint was a zealous defender of the holy Icons. When the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) came to rule, the saint in 815 was exiled to Prokonnis, where he died in the year 828.

In the year 846 the holy relics of Patriarch Nikēphóros were opened, and were found incorrupt and fragrant. They transferred them from Prokonnis to Constantinople and placed them for one day in Hagia Sophia, and then transferred them to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The saint’s hands are preserved in the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos.

The saint left behind three writings against Iconoclasm. The main Feast of Saint Nikēphóros is celebrated on June 2, but today we commemorate the finding and transfer of his holy relics.

The main feast day of this Saint is June 2. The translation of his holy relics took place in 846, when Saint Methodius (see June 14) was Ecumenical Patriarch.

Nicephorus governed the Holy Church wisely and zealously as one of the greatest archpastors of Constantinople. When Leo the Armenian rose up against icons, Nicephorus alone defied the emperor. He first counseled the emperor and then later denounced him. That is why the depraved emperor banished him to the island of Prokonis. On this island there was a monastery which Nicephorous had built in honor of St. Theodore. This confessor of the Orthodox Faith remained in this monastery for thirteen years and afterward presented himself to the Lord in the year 827 A.D.

Since all the iconoclastic emperors had perished, and Michael, with his mother Theodora, sat on the imperial throne, Patriarch Methodius was restored to the patriarchal throne. The relics of St. Nicephorous were translated from Prokonis to Constantinople in 846 A.D. There they rested first in the Church of Hagia Sophia [Divine Wisdom], from which he had been banished during his life, and later in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. The principal feast of this great hierarch is on June 2, and on March 13 the discovery and translation of his incorrupt relics is commemorated. On March 13, St. Nicephorous was banished from Constantinople and then, again, on March 13, thirty-two years later, his relics were returned to the capital.

Apolytikion of Nicephorus, Pat. Of Constantinople

Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Nicephoros, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

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