Briefly about the martyrs Photius and Anicetus

Augustin Sokolovski

August 25 Churches of the Julian calendar honor the memory of Saints Photius and Anicetus. In church tradition, they are revered as healers and miracle workers. In addition to John the Baptist, Photius and Anicetus are among the ten saints mentioned in the sacramental prayer "Holy Father, Physician of Souls and Bodies" in the sacrament of unction.

The Saints suffered for Christ in Nicomedia. This ancient city is currently called Izmit and is located about a hundred kilometers from Constantinople. During the time of the Roman Empire at the end of the 3rd - beginning of the 4th century, this city was the residence of emperors for a long time, which, according to the tradition of that time, meant the status of the actual capital. Over time, the leadership in Bithynia passed to Nicaea.

Since from apostolic times Christianity spread mainly in the cities, and the villagers remained pagans, the Christian presence in Nicomedia was very large. In the calendars of the Church several times a year the joint memory of the multitude of Nicomedia martyrs is celebrated.

Anicetus and Photius were relatives, respectively, an uncle and a nephew. Anicetus was a Roman officer. There is no information about the profession of Photius. The mention in prayer among the unmercenaries and miracle workers may indicate that he was a physician.

His mention in prayer among the unmercenaries and miracle workers may indicate that he was a physician. Another indirect proof of this may be the fact that in the prayers and the calendars these saints are not mentioned alphabetically or by seniority, but Photius is mentioned first.

The ancient Church forbade Christians to seek martyrdom on their own. The canons condemned those who provoked the pagans and called, in case of persecution, to hide from their persecutors. Martyrdom was perceived as a crown of grace, which could be awarded only by divine predestination.

Reminiscent of the inspiration of the biblical prophets, it came suddenly and unconditionally. It was like “a gentle wind in which the Lord is” (1 Kings 19:12), and Jesus’ try of the cross “I thirst!” (John 19:28).

According to the life, Anicetus learned about the upcoming persecution of Christians. At the sight of the construction of instruments for torture, he was overcome with indignation. He was arrested and tortured. Photius stood up for his own uncle and was also arrested. The extreme steadfastness of the saints during the torment led many who witnessed what happened to faith. The triumph of paganism began to rapidly turn into the death of the gods. In a panicked rage, the idolaters threw Photius and Anicetus into the furnace.

After the end of the persecution, the relics of Saints Photios and Anicetus were found and transferred to Constantinople. The translation was accompanied by many healings. In the church dedicated to the memory of the saints, the sick were anointed. The word "oil" in Greek also means "mercy". Photius and Anicetus during their lifetime interceded for the tormented saints, and in the Kingdom of the Father they intercede for those tormented by illnesses.