Lives of all saints commemorated on April 3

Venerable Nicetas the Confessor, Abbot of Medikion

Saint Nicetas 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 Nicetas attended church and was a disciple of the hermit Stephanos. With his blessing, Saint Nicetas set off to the Mydicia monastery, where Saint Nicephorus (March 13) was the igumen.

After seven years of virtuous life at the monastery, famed for its strict monastic rule, Saint Nicetas was ordained presbyter. Saint Nicephorus, 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 Nicetas 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 Nicephorus departed to the Lord in his old age, the brethren unanimously chose Saint Nicetas as igumen.

The Lord granted Saint Nicetas 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 Nicephorus (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 Nicetas, 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 Nicetas 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 Nicetas 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 Nicetas was again locked up in prison for six years until the death of the emperor Leo the Armenian. Enduring hunger and travail, Saint Nicetas 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 Nicetas prayed, were thrown up on shore by the waves.

Saint Nicetas 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.

Virginmartyr Theodosia of Tyre

Once, during a persecution against Christians, which had already lasted for five years, the seventeen-year-old Saint Theodosia visited condemned Christian prisoners in the Praetorium in Caesarea, Palestine. It was the day of Holy Pascha, and the martyrs spoke about the Kingdom of God. Saint Theodosia asked them to remember her before the Lord, when they should come to stand before Him.

Soldiers seized her and led her before the governor Urban after seeing the maiden bow to the prisoners. The governor advised her to offer sacrifice to the idols but she refused, confessing her faith in Christ. Then they subjected the saint to cruel tortures, raking her body with iron claws until her bones were exposed.

The martyr was silent and endured the sufferings with a happy face, and when the governor told her again to offer sacrifice to the idols she answered, “You fool, I have been granted to join the martyrs!” They threw the maiden with a stone about her neck into the sea, but angels rescued her. Then they threw the martyr to the wild beasts to be eaten by them. Seeing that the beasts would not touch her, they cut off her head.

By night Saint Theodosia appeared to her parents, who had tried to talk their daughter out of her intention to suffer for Christ. She was in bright garb with a crown upon her head and a luminous gold cross in her hand, and she said, “Behold the great glory of which you wanted to deprive me!”

The Holy Martyr Theodosia of Tyre suffered in the year 307. She is also commemorated on May 29 (the transfer of her relics to Constantinople, and later to Venice).

Martyr Irene

No information available at this time.

Saint Illyricus of Mount Myrsinon in the Peloponnesus

Saint Illyricus the Wonderworker devoted himself to ascetic struggles on Mount Myrsinon in the Peloponnesus. The dates of his birth and death are unknown.

Martyrs Elpidephorus, Dius, Bithonius, and Galycus

The Holy Martyrs Elpidephorus, Dius, Bithonius, and Galycus suffered for their faith in Jesus Christ. They cut off the head of Saint Elpidephorus with a sword, Saint Dius was executed by stoning, Saint Bithonius was drowned in the sea, and Saint Galycus was condemned to be eaten by wild beasts.

Icon of the Mother of God “The Unfading Bloom”

The “Unfading Bloom” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. On this icon the Most Holy Theotokos holds Her Divine Son upon Her right arm, and in Her left hand is a bouquet of white lilies. This bouquet symbolically signifies the unfading flower of virginity and spotlessness of the All-Pure Virgin, Whom the Church hymns: “Thou art the Root of virginity and the Unfading Blossom of purity.” Copies of this icon were glorified at Moscow, Voronezh, and other places in Russia.