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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

April 3

St. Nicetas, Abbot

HE was a native of Bithynia, and from his infancy was brought up in austere monasteries by the care of his pious father Philaretus, who, after the loss of his wife, had himself embraced a monastic state. Nicetus emulated the most perfect examples of virtue: his mind was wholly occupied in prayer and pious reading, and his body was so extenuated by the severity of his fasts and watching, that it nearly resembled a walking skeleton. But his soul grew the more vigorous and active in proportion as it was more disengaged from the flesh, and by contemplation approached nearer to the angels. St. Nicephorus appointed him his coadjutor, and afterward recommended him to be his successor in the abbey of Medicion, which he had founded on mount Olympus, under the rule of the Acæmetes. In this calm and amiable retreat the saint and a hundred holy monks under his direction, led the lives of terrestrial angels, when the devil found means to disturb their tranquillity, though in the end his attempts only served to furnish their virtue with more distinguished occasions of triumph. In 813, the emperor Leo the Armenian renewed the war against holy images, and, in 814, banished the patriarch St. Nicephorus, and intruded into his see one Theodosius, an impious officer of the court. The zeal of Nicetas for the Catholic faith was recompensed by two banishments, a rigid imprisonment, and other severe sufferings. Theodosius, having pronounced anathema against all who did not honour the image of Jesus Christ, our abbot, regarding him as orthodox, consented, with many other confessors, to receive the communion from his hands; but was immediately stung with remorse, fearing lest he had been drawn into a conformity which some might interpret to the prejudice of the truth. Hereupon he openly protested that he would never abandon the faith of his ancestors, or obey the false patriarch. He rejected the offers of preferment at court, and chose rather to suffer a cruel banishment into the island of St. Glyceria, in the extremities of the Propontis, under the guard of Anthimus, a court eunuch, who confined him in a dark dungeon, the key of which he always kept in his own custody. A little food, merely what seemed necessary to preserve him alive, was carelessly thrown in to him through a little window. In this martyrdom he lingered six years, till the death of Leo the Armenian, who was murdered on Christmas-day, in 820. Michael the Stutterer, who then ascended the throne, released the prisoners. St. Nicetas chose, out of humility, neither to return to his monastery, nor to live at Constantinople; but, shutting himself up in a small hermitage near that city, prepared himself for death, which he met with joy on the 3rd of April, 824. Many miracles rendered his name illustrious on earth. See his life, by an intimate acquaintance, in Surius, d’Andilly, Papebroke, Fleury b. 46.  1