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Venerable Niketas the Confessor, Abbot of Medikion (3 April)

Saint Niketas (Nikḗtas) the Confessor was born in Bithynian Caesarea (northwest Asia Minor) of a pious family. His mother died eight days after his birth, and his father Philaretos became a monk. The child remained in the care of his grandmother, who raised him in a true Christian spirit. From his youth Saint Niketas attended church and was a disciple of the hermit Stephanos. With his blessing, Saint Niketas set off to the Mydicia monastery, where Saint Nikephoros (Nikēphóros) (March 13) was the igumen.

After seven years of virtuous life at the monastery, famed for its strict monastic rule, Saint Niketas was ordained presbyter. Saint Nikephoros, knowing the holy life of the young monk, entrusted to him the guidance of the monastery when he himself became ill.

Not wanting power, Saint Niketas devoted himself to the enlightenment and welfare of the monastery. He guided the brethren by his own example. Soon the fame of the lofty life of its inhabitants of the monastery attracted many seeking salvation. After several years, the number of monks had increased to one hundred.

When Saint Nikephoros departed to the Lord in his old age, the brethren unanimously chose Saint Niketas as igumen.

The Lord granted Saint Niketas the gift of wonderworking. Through his prayer a deaf-mute child received the gift of speech; two demon-possessed women were healed; he restored reason to one who had lost his mind, and many of the sick were healed of their infirmities.

During these years under the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the Iconoclast heresy resurfaced and oppression increased. Orthodox bishops were deposed and banished. At Constantinople a council of heretics was convened in 815, at which they deposed the holy Patriarch Nikephoros (806-815), and in his place they chose the heretical layman Theodotus. They also installed heretics in place of exiled and imprisoned Orthodox bishops.

The emperor summoned all the heads of the monasteries and tried to bring them over to the Iconoclast heresy. Among those summoned was Saint Niketas, who stood firmly for the Orthodox confession. Following his example, all the igumens remained faithful to the veneration of holy icons. Therefore, they threw him into prison. Saint Niketas bravely underwent all the tribulations and encouraged firmness of spirit in the other prisoners.

Then the emperor and the false patriarch Theodotus attempted to trick those who remained faithful to Orthodox teaching. They promised that the emperor would give them their freedom and permit the veneration of the icons on one condition: that they take Communion from the pseudo-patriarch Theodotus.

For a long time the saint had doubts about entering into communion with a heretic, but other prisoners begged him to go along with them. Acceding to their entreaties, Saint Niketas went into the church, where icons were put out to deceive the confessors, and he accepted Communion.

But when he returned to his monastery and saw that the persecution against icons was continuing, he then repented of his deed, returned to Constantinople and fearlessly denounced the Iconoclast heresy. He ignored all the emperor’s threats.

Saint Niketas was again locked up in prison for six years until the death of the emperor Leo the Armenian. Enduring hunger and travail, Saint Niketas worked miracles by the power of his prayers: through his prayer the Phrygian ruler released two captives without ransom; three shipwrecked men for whom Saint Niketas prayed, were thrown up on shore by the waves.

Saint Niketas reposed in the Lord in 824. The saint’s body was buried at the monastery with reverence. Later, his relics became a source of healing for those coming to venerate the holy confessor.

Saint Nicetas lived in the eighth century and became the Abbot of the Monastery of Medicium, which was near the city of Triglia on the Sea of Marmara. For his Orthodox confession of the veneration of the holy icons, he was persecuted and exiled twice by the Iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian, but recalled by Michael the Stutterer, and reposed, adorned with the twofold crown of holiness and of confession of the Orthodox Faith, about the year 824.

Nicetas was born in Bithynia, in the city of Caesarea. His father, Philaret, was tonsured a monk after the death of his spouse, while Nicetas remained with his paternal grandmother. After reaching maturity and completing all of his studies, Nicetas entered the Monastery of Medikion, where the Abbot Nicephorus tonsured him a monk. After seven years of hardship and ascetic labors, Patriarch Tarasius ordained him a hieromonk (priest-monk). Following the deaths of Abbot Nicephorus and Athanasius (Nicetas’s faithful companion), the monastic brotherhood elected Nicetas abbot, against his will. For many years St. Nicetas was an example to his brethren of asceticism and a holy life. When Leo V, the Armenian, was crowned emperor (after the pious Irene and the right-believing Emperors Nicephorus and Michael), the iconoclastic struggle was again inflamed. The emperor deposed Patriarch Nicephorus and sent him into exile and, in his place, elevated the heretic Theodotus Cassiteras, a man of impure life. Nicetas was also imprisoned and tortured, but he remained steadfast in his Orthodoxy.

He was led from prison to prison, suffering from hunger, thirst, chills, oppressive heat and mockery. But he did not permit himself to waver. He was particularly bothered by the laughter and scorn of a certain Nicholas. One night, Nicholas’s deceased father appeared to Nicholas in a dream and rebuked him, saying: “Leave that servant of God alone!” From that moment, Nicholas repented and not only did not annoy the saint anymore, but turned others away from annoying him also. When Leo the Armenian met with a wicked death, the rule of the empire was taken up by the Orthodox Emperor Michael Balbus (the “Stammerer”) who liberated all the Orthodox sufferers. Nicetas then withdrew to an isolated place near Constantinople, where in prayer and thanksgiving to God for all things he spent the remaining days of his earthly life. During his lifetime he worked many miracles through prayer. When he died, his body was translated to his monastery. During the funeral procession, many of the sick reached out and touched his body, and were healed. His relics were placed next to the grave of Nicephorus, his spiritual father, and Athanasius, his companion. This great hierarch reposed in the year 824 A.D.

Apolytikion of Nicetas the Confessor

Plagal of the Fourth Tone

You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Nikitas, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

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