Sts. Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch are honored on July 28
“Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. ―Acts 6:3–5
It was very early on in the establishment of the Church when the apostles realized they needed some assistance with their work. A rift between the Hellenists (Greek-influenced Jews) and Hebrews arose over the sharing of resources; the Hellenists felt as though their widows were getting less favorable treatment. So, the Twelve called together the disciples of Jerusalem and asked for help in selecting seven men to assist with the some of the routine responsibilities necessary for the needy of the Church.
Sts. Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch were five of these seven chosen men. Luke shares in Acts how the apostles prayerfully laid their hands upon these men, who were “reputable” and “filled with the Spirit and wisdom,” and how the Church then began to grow even more. These men are often considered to be the first deacons of the Church.
The Acts of the Apostles offers a fair amount of information on Stephen (December 26) and Philip (October 11); however, very little is known about these other five. Some traditions state that Prochorus accompanied the apostle Peter for a while, became bishop of Nicomedia (in Asia Minor), was at Patmos with John the Evangelist, and was martyred in Antioch. Legends claim that Nicanor was stoned to death in Jerusalem, possibly on the same day Stephen (the first of the seven assistants) was. Timon is believed to have become a bishop in Arabia, where he was purportedly martyred. Parmenas possibly preached in Macedonia; some claim he died from illness, and others assert he was martyred. Even less seems to be suggested about Nicholas of Antioch, who had been a convert to Judaism before embracing Christianity.
A Few Passages to Study
These five deacons are honored on July 28—one might call them patrons of the poor and widowed. See Acts 6:1-7 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 for a bit more insight into these early biblical deacons.