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ST. NICETAS, MARTYR
From his Acts in Surius, and from Socrates, Sozomen, &c. See Stilting, t. 5, Sept. p. 38.
SAINTS SABAS and NICETAS are the two most renowned martyrs among the Goths. The former is honored on the 12th of April, the latter, whom the Greeks place in the class of the great martyrs, is commemorated on this day. He was a Goth, born near the banks of the Danube, and converted to the faith in his youth by Theophilus, who was bishop of the Scythians and Goths in the reign of Constantine the great. When Valens ascended the imperial throne in the East, in the year 364, the nation of the Goths was divided into two kingdoms. Athanarie, king of the Eastern Goths, who bordered upon the Roman empire toward Thrace, being a savage prince, and a declared enemy to the Christian religion, in 370, raised a furious persecution against the Church in his dominions. By his order, an idol was carried in a chariot through all the towns and villages, where it was suspected that any Christians lived, and all who refused to adore it were put to death. The usual method of the persecutors was to burn the Christians with their children in their houses, or in the churches where they were assembled together; sometimes they were stabbed at the foot of the altar. In the numerous army of martyrs, which glorified God amongst that barbarous people, on this occasion, St. Nicetas held a distinguished rank. It was by the fire that he sealed his faith and obedience with his blood, and, triumphing over sin, passed to eternal glory.
By the lively expectation of a happy immortality, and the constant remembrance of the divine judgments, the saints courageously overcame all the assaults of the devil, the world, and their own flesh. We have these enemies to fight against, nor can we expect any truce with them so long as we remain in this mortal state. They are never more to be feared than when they lull us into a false confidence by seeming themselves to sleep. We must always watch, by assiduous prayer, self-denial, and flight of all dangerous occasions, that we may discover and shun all the dangerous arts and stratagems by which our crafty enemies seek to decoy or betray us into ruin; and we must always hold our weapons in our hands, that we may be ever ready to repulse all open assaults. Many have fallen in the security of peace who had vanquished the most violent persecutions. If we do not meet with the fiery trials of the martyrs, we are still in danger of perishing in a calm, unless we arm ourselves with watchfulness and fortitude.
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