By Bishop Grigorios of Mesaoria
Our Holy Church celebrates today the memory of Venerable Joannicius the Great of Bithynia, and Hierymartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas, Presbyter. We also commemorate the reverend Saint John III Doukas Vatatzes the Merciful, Emperor of Nicaea.
Saint Joannicius the Great was born in Bithynia to devout parents. He was drafted in the Byzantine army by the emperors who were fighting against the Bulgarians. He served honourably, winning the praise of his fellow soldiers. However, he chose to enter into a spiritual life and to join a monastery.
On Mysian Olympus, he met two monks who helped him spiritually and gave him the blessing to dedicate his life to Jesus Christ. He memorised the Psalms by heart. However, he was saying his prayer which he composed during the years he dedicated to solitude, study, and prayer: “My hope the Father, my refuge in Christ, my thought in the Holy Spirit.”
He travelled to Jerusalem where he fell asleep to the Lord.
Saints Nicander and Hermas were disciples of the Apostle Titus, follower of the Apostle Paul, the first Hierarch of Crete. They were bravely preaching the Holy Gospel with zeal and devotion. They converted many pagans to Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Church. For this reason, they were denounced to the city prefect, Libanius. The saints bravely proclaimed the truth of the Gospel. Libanius was so infuriated that he brutally tortured the two saints. With the help of Divine Grace, the saints were healed. This miracle further angered the city prefect. So he ordered that the saints be brutally tortured and be buried alive. After enduring such a cruel death, now they live forever in the joy of the Lord (Mt. 25:21)
SOURCE: Church of Cyprus