Saint Nicetius of Lyons
Saint Nicetius of Lyons (775)
Feast Day: April 2/15
Saint Nicetius (or St. Nizier de Lyons) was born in 513 at Geneva, then capital of the Burgundy kingdom. His mother was named Arthemia. His father, Senator Florentinus, married and already the father of two children, had refused the bishopric of that city. But the child was destined for the Church, and his mother had the premonition that he would become a bishop. His name in Latin was Nicetius, itself formed from the Greek Νικήτης, the Conqueror, and it was given in French as Nisier, then Nizier.
He was already in the clerical state when his father died, and he remained with Arthemia, his mother. An malignant ulcer on his face put his life in danger,his mother prayed to Saint Martin of tours, who appeared, made over him the sign of the cross, cured him and ordered him to arise. A scar remained on his face, as a witness of the miracle.
At thirty years of age, in 543, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Agricolus of Chalon-sur-Saône. Become a priest, he never ceased to work with his hands, following in that the counsel of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians: “Work with your hands, in order to be able to come to the aid of the indigent.” Likewise, he cared about the children around him, instead of devoting himself to their usual games, they learned to read and to write so that they be in possession of language, in order to serve God as soon as possible.
Nicetius was the nephew of Sacerdos (or Serdot), bishop of Lyons. He went to Paris, to King Childebert I. He became sick and, in the course of a visit which he made to the sovereign, he asked him: “Sire, deign to be pleased that the priest Nicetius, my nephew, be placed at the head of the Church of Lyons, for he is a good man, a faithful guardian of chastity, zealous for the Church and full of charity for the poor.” In the canon, we also learn that he was a good administrator, hospitable, kind, patient, vigilant, not engaging in vain talking nor even legitimate jokes, and loved the beauty of the Church. He also was evangelical, and deprived himself of personal needs in order to provide for the indigent. The king replied simply: “Let God’s will be done!” Now the votes of the clergy and people of Lyons ratified this choice, and he was consecrated bishop on the Lord’s-day, 19 January 553.
A great friend of concord and peace, the new bishop applied himself to forgive at once the insults which he received. For having the occasion to absolve the guilty, he applied himself to find for them an intercessor, in this case, his deacon and nephew Gregory, the future historian of the Church and holy bishop of Tours.
Nicetius, as a good administrator of the ecclesiastical goods, built diverse basilicas, and renovated the episcopal palace.
From the akolouthia of the Saint, we learn that he is venerated not just in Lyons, but in Burgundy, Tours, Troyes, Champagne, Provence, and Comtat. In the canon, we learn that he once forbade a deacon to chant at matins until the Saint was able to drive out a demon that had overtaken the man. After his repose, a blind man who touched the Saint’s casket received his sight.
He died at sixty years of age, on 2 April 573, in the twenty-first year of his episcopate.
Eponym of victory, O Saint Nicetius, it is the world which thou didst conquer by the power of thy virtues and by the strength of the Cross; from the power of the evil one cease not then to extract us, thy sons, from the Lyonnais city and from all the Gauls, of which thou was the primate, and repeat to us in the name of Christ: Courage, victory is ours!
5th tone (Plagal 1st )
Let us praise the holy hierarch Nicetius who, although the son of Senator Florentinus and knowing himself destined to the episcopate, ceased not to work with his hands, as the Apostle had counselled him and gave him the first example by his labor, he was able, as a priest, to provide for the needs of the indigent and the wretched, and, as a bishop glorified in heaven, he ceases not to act that our souls may be saved.
Translated into English by Schema-Archimandrite John (Lewis) +2007
From the French Akolouthia composed in 2002 by Hieromonk Denis (Guillaume) +2008
Published here with written permission of the author.
Synaxaria augmented by Mother Andrea