St. Alypius the Stylite of Adrianopolis; St. Nikon “Metanoeite,” the Preacher of Repentance; St. Stylianus of Paphlagonia

1. Saint Alypius the Stylite was born in the city of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia. His mother, a Christian, was widowed early, and she sent her son to be educated by Bishop Theodore. She distributed her substance to the poor, then began to live an ascetic life near the church as a deaconess.

Saint Alypius, from his early years, wanted to devote his life to God and yearned for the solitary life, although Bishop Theodore would not give him permission to do so. Once, when Saint Alypius was accompanying his bishop to Constantinople, the holy Martyr Euphemia (September 16) appeared to him in a vision, summoning Saint Alypius to return to Adrianopolis and found a church in her name.

With contributions offered by believers in Adrianopolis, Saint Alypius did build a church in the name of the holy Martyr Euphemia, on the site of a dilapidated pagan temple infested by legions of devils. Beside the church, under the open sky, the saint erected a pillar over a pagan tomb. For fifty-three years Saint Alypius struggled upon the pillar, praying to God and teaching those who came to him.

The demons which infested the pagan cemetery fell upon the ascetic by night and pelted him with stones. Saint Alypius, wanted nothing to stand in the way of the attacks of the spirits of darkness, then even took down the boards that served him as a roof, protecting him from the rain and wind. In the face of the saint’s conquering steadfastness, the demons fled the place forever, which had been sanctified by his deed of voluntary martyrdom.

Fourteen years before his death, Saint Alypius was no longer able to stand. He was compelled to lie on his side because of the weakness of his legs, and endured grievous sufferings with humble gratitude. Around the saint’s pillar two monasteries sprang up: a men’s monastery on the one side, and a women’s monastery on the other.

Saint Alypius introduced strict monastic rules for both monasteries and he directed both monasteries until his death. Saint Alypius reposed in the year 640, at age 118. The body of the venerable stylite was buried in the church he founded in honor of the holy Martyr Euphemia. The relics of the saint of God healed many of those who came in faith.

Troparion, tone 1:
You were a pillar of patient endurance, having imitated the forefathers, O Venerable One: Job in suffering, and Joseph in temptations. You lived like the Bodiless Ones while yet in the flesh, O Alypius, our Father. Beseech Christ God that our souls may be saved.

2. Saint Nikon Metanoeite (“the Preacher of Repentance”) was born at Pontus Polemoniacus at the beginning of the tenth century. He was the son of a wealthy landowner, and he was given the name Nicetas in Baptism.

Since he had no desire to take over the management of his family’s wealth and estates, Nicetas entered the monastery of Chrysopetro, where he shone forth in prayer and asceticism. When he received the monastic tonsure, he was given the new name Nikon. The new name symbolizes a new life in the Spirit (Romans 7:6), and the birth of the new man (Ephesians 4:24). A monk is expected to stop associating himself with the old personality connected to his former life in the world, and to devote himself entirely to God.

Saint Nikon had a remarkable gift for preaching. When he spoke of virtue and spiritual matters, his listeners were filled with heartfelt compunction and love for God. His words produced such spiritual fruit in those who heard him that he was asked to travel through the eastern regions to preach. He visited Armenia, Crete, Euboea, Aegina, and the Peloponnesus, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This was the message of Saint John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), and of Christ Himself (Matthew 4:17). This was also the message of Saint Nikon. Wherever he went, he would begin his sermons with “Repent,” hence he was called “Nikon Metanoeite,” or “Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.”

At first, people paid little heed to his message. Then gradually he won their hearts through his preaching, his miracles, and his gentle, loving nature. He stressed the necessity for everyone to repent, warning that those who utter a few sighs and groans and think that they have achieved true repentance have deluded themselves. Saint Nikon told the people that true sorrow for one’s sins is cultivated by prayer, self-denial, almsgiving, ascetical efforts, and by confession to one’s spiritual Father.

After sowing the seeds of piety, Saint Nikon began to see them bear fruit. People started to change their lives, but he urged them to strengthen their souls in virtue and good works so that they would not be overwhelmed by the cares of this world.

Eventually, Saint Nikon settled in a cave outside Sparta. Soon he moved into the city, because so many people were coming to hear him. In the center of Sparta, he built a church dedicated to Christ the Savior. In time a monastery grew up around the church.

Saint Nikon never ceased to preach the Word of God, and to lead people back to the spiritual life of the Church. He also healed the sick, and performed many other miracles.

Saint Nikon fell asleep in the Lord in 998, and his memory was honored by the people around Sparta. During the Turkish occupation of Greece, however, he was all but forgotten, except in Sparta. After the Greek Revolution in 1821, a service to Saint Nikon was composed by Father Daniel Georgopoulos, and was based on the saint’s Life, which had been written by Igumen Gregory of Saint Nikon’s Monastery in 1142.

Saint Nikon was recognized as the patron saint of the diocese of Monemvasia and Lakedaimonia in 1893 when the cathedral church in Sparta was dedicated to Saint Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.

Troparion, tone 3:
Lakedaimon rejoices, having the divine coffer of your relics, which gush forth a fountain of healings, and protect from afflictions all those who have recourse to you with faith, O Venerable Father Nikon, entreat Christ God that He may grant us great mercy.

3. Saint Stylianus was born in Paphlagonia of Asia Minor sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. He inherited a great fortune from his parents when they died, but he did not keep it. He gave it away to the poor according to their need, desiring to help those who were less fortunate.

Stylianus left the city and went to a monastery, where he devoted his life to God. Since he was more zealous and devout than the other monks, he provoked their jealousy and had to leave. He left the monastery to live alone in a cave in the wilderness, where he spent his time in prayer and fasting.

The goodness and piety of the saint soon became evident to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia, and they sought him out to hear his teaching, or to be cured by him. Many were healed of physical and mental illnesses by his prayers.

Saint Stylianus was known for his love of children, and he would heal them of their infirmities. Even after his death, the citizens of Paphlagonia believed that he could cure their children. Whenever a child became sick, an icon of Saint Stylianus was painted and was hung over the child’s bed.

At the hour of his death, the face of Saint Stylianus suddenly became radiant, and an angel appeared to receive his soul.

Known as a protector of children, Saint Stylianus is depicted in iconography holding an infant in his arms. Pious Christians ask him to help and protect their children, and childless women entreat his intercession so that they might have children.

Troparion, tone 8:
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! O our holy father Stylianus, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

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