SAINT OF THE DAY: On the second Sunday before the Nativity we commemorate all the great Fathers and Mothers, Prophets and Judges of the Old Testament, starting with Adam, Abraham, the Righteous Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, including Holy Prophet Elias and Daniel, and concluding with Holy Prophet Zachariah, Joachim and Anna, Holy Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist and righteous Joseph. They lived before the Law and under the Law, especially the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said, “In thy seed, shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, 22:18).
Venerable Nikon the Dry, of the Kyiv Near Caves, is commemorated today. He was the son of rich and illustrious parents, who gave up everything for Christ and became a monk at the Kyiv Caves monastery. In the year 1096, during the incursions of Khan Bonyak, he was taken into captivity with some other monks. The captors treated Saint Nikon harshly while waiting for a ransom to be paid. When the saint refused to be ransomed, his masters began to torment him with hunger and left him exposed to the heat of summer and the cold of winter. He was mistreated and beaten every day for about three years, for his captors thought he would change his mind and send word to his relatives, asking to be ransomed. The saint gave thanks to God for everything, and once said to his tormentor that the Lord, through the prayers of Saints Anthony and Theodosius would return him to his monastery within three days, as Saint Eustratius had predicted while appearing to him. The captor cut the tendons in Saint Nikon’s legs and set a strong guard over him. But suddenly, on the third day at the sixth hour, the holy captive became invisible. At that moment the guard heard the words, “Praise the Lord from the Heavens” (Ps. 148). Saint Nikon was transported to the Dormition church, where the Divine Liturgy was being served. The brethren surrounded him and began to ask how he got there. Saint Nikon wanted to conceal the miracle, but the brethren implored him to tell the truth. Saint Nikon did not want to have his fetters removed, but the igumen said, “If the Lord had wanted you to remain fettered, He would not have delivered you from captivity.” After a long while, Saint Nikon’s former master came to the Kyiv Caves monastery and recognized his former captive, who was withered from hunger and the loss of blood from his wounds. He came to believe in Christ and accepted Baptism. After receiving monastic tonsure, he became a novice under Saint Nikon’s direction. Saint Nikon died at the beginning of the twelfth century and was buried in the Near Caves. Though he did not enjoy good health in this life, his holy relics were glorified by incorruption. His memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.