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Father Nicephorus was born Nicholas Tzanakakis in 1890 in a village of Serikari of Chania, Crete. His parents, who were simple and pious villagers, died while he was a small child, leaving him an orphan, under the care of his grandfather. When he was thirteen he moved to Chania and began to work in a barbershop. Soon after he began to show signs of Hansen's disease (i.e. leprosy). When he was sixteen years old his disease became more visible. As leprosy was a transmissible disease that was treated with fear, Nicholas fled to Egypt to escape an exile to Spinaloga, an island leper colony. The disease continued to advance as he worked in a barbershop in Alexandria, Egypt. At the suggestion of a cleric who told him of Lovokomeio, the home for lepers on the island of Chios, Nicholas fled again.
In 1914 at the age of 24, Nicholas arrived at the home for lepers in Chios that was administered by the priest Anthimus Vagianos, later remembered as St. Anthimus of Chios. The chapel of St. Lazaros at the leper home, with its wonder-working icon of the Panagia of Ypakoe (Obedience), provided an atmosphere that opened for Nicholas his spirituality and faith. Within two years Fr. Anthimus saw that Nicholas was ready for the schema and tonsured him a monk with the name Nikephorus.
His illness continued, as it would be until 1947 before a treatment is found for stopping leprosy. Yet, Nikephorus continued his obedience, fasting and working in the gardens, as a unique spiritual relationship grew between the monk Nikephorus and his mentor Fr, Anthimus. From this he compiled a catalogue of the miracles of St. Anthimus that he had seen with his own eyes. Nikephoros would pray for hours at night, performing countless prostrations, yet not offering a word to anyone nor spoiling his heart on anyone. He became the head chanter of the church. However, as he slowly lost his eyesight because of his illness, most of the hymns were chanted by others.
In 1957, Lovokomeio was closed and Nikephoros, along with the remaining patients, was moved to the Anti-Leper Station of St. Barbara in Aigaleo, west of Athens. At that time Nikephoros was about 67 years old, and his body and eyes had been totally transformed by his illness. At the Anti-Leper station lived a priest, Fr. Eumenios, who had been cured of the disease through the recent medical advances and decided to remain in the station near his fellow patients. Fr. Eumenios soon became a spiritual child of the monk Nikephoros, to whom as a reward for his patience, the Lord had granted many gifts.
Many people began to visit the leper monk Nikephoros, to receive his blessing. Confined to his bed, racked with pains and barely able to see, he would call on his visitors saying, "My children, do you pray? And how do you pray? …with the prayer of Jesus you should pray, with the "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me". Thus you should pray."
- Cu lupte şi cu bărbăteşti nevoinţe, pe cereştii îngeri i-ai lăsat fără de grai,
- Cuvioase Părinte Nichifor Leprosul,
- în suferinţe ca un al doilea Iov ai răbdat, aducând slavă lui Dumnezeu.
- şi cunună strălucitoare de minuni ţi-a dăruit.
- Bucură-te, călăuza monahilor!
- Bucură-te, rază de lumină,
- Bucură-te, că bineplăcută mireasmă răspândesc moaştele tale!
Condac (glasul al 2-lea)
- Neluând seama la dureri şi la vătămarea cea trupească,
- ca un cal in galop ai alergat spre ceruri,
- Cuvioase Părinte Nichifore,
- statornic ajutor al leproşilor.
- Ca o biserică a lui Dumnezeu strălucit luminată
- a strălucit întru boală trupul tău.
- en:The Righteous Nikephoros the Leper
- en:Mystagogy (John Sanidopoulos): Righteous Nikephoros the Leper: Hymns and Photos
- en:Ο ΛΕΠΡΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΣ ΠΟΥ ΓΛΙΤΩΣΕ..ΤΟ ΝΗΣΙ ΤΗΣ ΣΠΙΝΑΛΟΓΚΑΣ
- Announcement (in Greek): Φος Φαναριου.
- Troparul şi condacul sunt traduse din limba engleză.