Little is known of his life. Some say he died with Stephen, the first martyr, while others say that when the remaining deacons or almoners disbanded after the death of Stephen, Nicanor became a missionary to the Gentiles and travelled to Cyprus.
The Annales of Cesar Baronius (1538-1607), now considered historically worthless, say Nicanor was martyred c. 76 on his native island under Vespasian. Other legends say he was martyred in Berj, a place unknown and presumed to be Botrys.
Modern scholars believe Nicanor died in peace.