St Kyriake the Great Martyr
(Commemorated on the 7th of July)
St Kyriake was born in Nicomedia, the only daughter of Dorotheos and Eusebia. Her pious parents were Christian and rich, but childless. Following their prayers a daughter was bestowed to them, who was named after the day she was born, being a Sunday.
Kyriake was beautiful both in body and soul, and was raised with Christian principles. Many asked for her hand in marriage, but she did not want anyone, saying that she was engaged to Christ, and she wanted to die a virgin. A judge wanted Kyriake for his son, but his proposal was rejected. In revenge, he denounced Kyriake and her parents as Christians to the emperor Diocletian.
The emperor ordered them to be tortured. Dorotheos was savagely beaten, but to no avail, they did not change their minds. Eventually Dorotheos and Eusebia were exiled, where they died enduring much suffering for Christ.
Kyriake refused to worship the idols. Maximian ordered her to be flogged. She was tortured in every possible way, but her faith was unshakable. One night she heard the voice of God say to her: “Do not be afraid of torture Kyriake, my spirit is with you.” After many trials, Maximian failed to persuade the young woman to change her faith. He then sent her to the prefect of Bithynia Hilarion, from whom he asked to make a pagan of Kyriake or to send her to him again.
Hilarion did his best to achieve this. One of the tortures she endured was to be hung from her hair for several hours while soldiers burned her body with burning torches. Finally, she was thrown into a prison cell. That night Christ appeared and healed her wounds. Seeing Kyriake’s miraculous salvation, many pagans believed in Christ and were beheaded for it.
They led Kyriake to the temple to sacrifice to idols. On the way she begged God to help her not to do such a thing. As soon as they reached the temple, a strong earthquake terrified the executioners and the statues of the temple fell from their pedestals and were crushed. Kyriake, however, was once again tortured by Apollonius. However, when they threw her into the fire, the flames did not burn her, and when they threw her at the wild beasts, they died.
In the end, Apollonius sentenced her to beheading on July 7, 282 AD. She was given a few minutes to pray, and asked God to take her soul. This was granted, and as the executioner approached for the execution he saw that Kyriake was already dead. She was only 21 years old.
Source: Lychnos June-July 2021