Saint of the Day – 20 January – Saint Neophytus of Nicaea (Died c 303) Martyr, Confessor, Lay Youth. Died at Nicaea by the sword.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Nicaea, in Bithynia (present day Turkey), St Neophytus, Martyr who, in the fifteenth year of his age was scourged, cast into a furnace and exposed to wild beasts. As he remained uninjured and constantly Confessed the Faith of Christ, he was at last killed with the sword.”
Neophytus was born to Christian parents who were named Theodore and Florentia.
During the Diocletianic persecution he presented himself to the local Governor named Decius. Roused to fury by his unexpected boldness, Decius had him scourged, then laid out on a bed of fire. When he had been preserved by grace, through these torments, he gave him up to wild beasts.
But since the Saint remained unharmed, a certain pagan fell on him with a sword and slew him. This occurred in c 303, 10 years before the Edict of Milan permanently established religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.
In 2014 the underwater Byzantine Basilica of Saint Neophytus was discovered in Lake İznik, modern-day Turkey. The Basilica had been built in the place where he was killed on the shore of the lake and subsequently became submerged after an earthquake.