- SAINT KOSMAS AITOLOS - ON FORGIVENESS
There was a man named Saprikios who always fasted, prayed, provided
money for dowries for poor brides, built churches; he never did a
harmful thing but loved justice. There was also another man named
Nikephoros who never did anything good. In fact, he stole, cheated
people, fornicated; he did everything that was bad. He also wanted to
murder his brother Saprikos.
One day, the king sent for Saprikios and asked him to deny Christ and to
worship idols. Saprikios said: "I'll never deny my Christ. The king
tortured him a great deal, and when he saw that there was no way to
defeat him, the king decided to put Saprikios to death. He was handed
over to the executioner, who took him to the place of execution.
Nikephoros learned of this and went along the way and said to Saprikios:
"Brother, I have done you wrong and I have learned that they're putting
you to death. So, I beg you brother, forgive me; I have wronged you."
Nikephoros bent low, begged him again, and kissed his feet. "Brother,"
he said, "forgive me for God's sake." But his brother wouldn't forgive
They reached the place of execution where Nikephoros begged Saprikios
again, with tears in his eyes, but he wouldn't forgive him.
Once more Nikephoros said to him: "Behold, brother, they're about to
kill you, why don't you forgive me? You'll be damned. I forgive you
with all my heart." Saprikios replied: "I'll never forgive you." And
as the executioner lifted the sword to cut off his head, the most
gracious God, observing the scene, lifted his grace, and Saprikios asked
the soldier: "Why do you want to kill me?"
The soldier said: "You mean to say that after all this @ime you don't
know why? Because you will not worship the idols."
"Is that why you are torturing me?" said Saprikios. "I deny Christ and
I'll worship the idols."
As soon as he said this, they stopped the execution. He denied Christ
and went with the devil. Nikephoros, seeing the angels who stood by
holding a golden crown, said to the executioner: "I'm a Christian and I
believe in my Christ."
Then he said to Saprikios: "Forgive me, my brother, and God will forgive
And immediately the executioner cut off Nikephoros' head and it was
received by the angels who took it to paradise. This is why we also, we
who are pious Christians, should love our enemies and should forgive
them. We should feed them. We should give them drink. We should pray
to God for their souls and then say to God: "My God, I beg you to
forgive me as I forgive my enemies." But if we don't forgive our
enemies, even if we shed our blood for the love of Christ, we'll go to