Sts Anikitos and Photios Holy Unmercenaries

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Sts Anikitos and Photios Holy Unmercenaries

Feast Day August 12

Sts Anikitos and Photios lived in the Nicomedia during the 3rd century. St Anikitos was from a wealth Christian family and was educated as a physician. His nephew Photios was orphaned so Anikitos took him in and trained him as a physician as well.

They adopted an unmercinary (ανάργυροι = anargyroi, meaning without silver i.e. reward) style of practice never taking any money or gifts for their services. God blessed them with healing powers and they cured all that came to them.

In those days the Emperor Diocletian was a ferocious persecutor of Christians. Diocletian found it entertaining to have his soldiers bring Christians to the Arena and discovered new methods of torture sparing them only if they denounced God and worshipped pagan idols.

When St Anikitos refused to denounce his faith he was beaten until his bones were exposed and thrown to a lion. By God’s intervention the lion was tame as a kitten, wiping the perspiration off St Anikitos with its paw. St Anikitos expressed his gratitude to God with a prayer of thanks for his deliverance. At the end of the prayer a violent earthquake erupted destroying the idol of Hercules after it toppled over.

This provoked the ire of Diocletian who ordered St Anikitos’ immediate persecution. The guards hands became unexplainably frozen and they could not harm St Anikitos. The next torture was to tie him on a wheel and roll him into fire. Although severely burned St Anikitos prayed and all his wounds were healed. While observing the brutal torment of his uncle, Photios approached to comfort him and he too gave witness to Christ in the company of the vicious Diocletian.

The emperor was now enraged and ordered that the guards behead the two Christian men. After several failed attempts to end their lives he ordered that the huge furnace be lit and cast them inside to burn alive. As Sts Anikitos and Photios approached the furnace they prayed to God to put an end to their torments and to allow them to die in peace. The Holy Unmercenaries Anikitos and Photios gave up their souls on August 12th. Their bodies were stolen by the hidden Christians who were always present at these games. They were secretly buried and a church was built next to their tombs later in time when Christians practiced freely.

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