There was a man named Saprikios who always fasted, prayed, provided money 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 want to murder his brother Saprikios.
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 him.
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 time 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 you.”
And immediately the executioner cut off Nikephoros’ head and it was received by the angels who took it to paradise. This is why 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 hell.
– From Father Kosmas the Apostle of the Poor: The Life of St. Kosmas Aitolos Together With an English Translation of His Teaching and Letters by Nomikos Michael Vaporis, Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1977.