St Nikephoros the Confessor, patriarch of Constantinople (829)
He was born in Constantinople around 758, of pious parents: his father had been exiled under Constantine Copronymus for his steadfast veneration of the holy icons. Nikephoros served in the imperial palace as a secretary, but later renounced worldly success to struggle in monastic life near Constantinople. He built and administered a monastery which soon became filled with monks; but he himself never took the monastic habit, feeling himself unworthy. Though a layman, he took part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council at the request of the Emperor and Patriarch because of his remarkable knowledge of Holy Scripture. Much against his will, he was made Patriarch of Constantinople at the death of Patriarch Tarasios. He was made a monk, then elevated through all the priestly orders in a few days, then enthroned at St Sophia in 806.
A few years later, the Emperor Leo the Armenian took the throne. Patriarch Nikephoros, as was customary, sent him a Confession of the Orthodox Faith to sign. Leo put off signing the document until his coronation, then revealed himself to be an Iconoclast heretic. The Patriarch tried quietly to bring him back to the Orthodox faith, but to no avail. When the Emperor, in his turn, tried to make the holy Nikephoros bow to iconoclasm, the Patriarch clearly and publicly upheld the veneration of the holy Icons. For this he was deposed and driven into exile at the Monastery of St Theodore, which he himself had founded. Here he reposed, having served for nine years as Patriarch, and thirteen years in exile and privation.
Holy New Martyr Constantine (1819)
He was born a Muslim on the island of Lesbos (Mitylene), but became convinced of the truth of Christ after he was healed of a serious illness by the aid of holy water in a church. He traveled to the Holy Mountain and was baptised at the monastery of Kapsokalyvia. Later, he was seized by the Turks, who first tortured him viciously and, when he would not deny the Faith, hanged him in Constantinople.
Hieromartyr Erazmo of Ochrid (303)
“This saint was born in Antioch and lived in the reigns of Diocletian and Maximian. He lived in strict asceticism on Mount Lebanon, and was endowed by God with great wonderworking gifts. As a bishop, he set out to preach the Gospel. Arriving at the city of Ochrid, he restored the son of a man called Anastasius to life by his prayers, and baptised him. At this time, Erazmo baptised many other pagans and tore down the idolatrous altar in Ochrid. For this he was denounced to the Emperor Maximian, who was at that time staying in Illyria. The Emperor brought him before the copper image of Zeus, and ordered him to bring sacrifices and worship the idol. St Erazmo, by his power, caused a terrible dragon to come out of the statue, which terrified all the people. The saint then worked another wonder, and the dragon died. Then the saint preached Christ and baptised 20,000 souls. The furious Emperor commanded that all 20,000 be beheaded, and put Erazmo to harsh torture, before throwing him into prison. But an angel of God appeared to him, as once to the Apostle Peter, and led him out of the prison. After that, this servant of God went to Campania, where he preached the Gospel to the people, then returned again to the town of Hermelia, where he withdrew to a cave and lived in asceticism for the rest of his days. At the time of his death, he prostrated three times towards the East and, with upraised hands, prayed to God to forgive and give eternal life to all those who would, with faith, call upon his name. At the end of his prayer, a voice was heard from heaven: ‘Let it be as thou hast asked, My little healer Erazmo!’ The saint looked up once more to heaven with great joy and saw a wreath of glory descending upon him, and a choir of angels, prophets, apostles and martyrs waiting to receive his holy soul. He finally cried: ‘Lord, receive my spirit!’, and breathed his last, in about the year 303. The cave and chapel of St Erazmo stand to this day not far from Ochrid, and from there is proclaimed to this day the great power of the man of God, Erazmo the hieromartyr.” (Prologue)
Note: St Erazmo is commemorated on May 4th in the Slavonic Menaion, but St Nikolai Velomirovich gives today as the date on which he was been commemorated in Ochrid “from time immemorial”.