My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
the 7th of July, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates
the Great-Martyr KYRIAKE.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
O LORD Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice:
O my Bridegroom, Thee I love, and seeking Thee, I now contest,
and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy
sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake, I die, that I may
live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless
sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since
Thou art great in mercy.
Kontakion Hymn of the Martyr. Second Tone
THE Martyr of Christ hath called us all together now to praise and
acclaim her wrestlings and her godly feats; for possessed of manliness of mind, she hath proved worthy of her name, being lady and
mistress of her mind and the passions of unseemliness.
Kyriake, the prizewinning Martyr, fled from polytheism and razed the temples of the idols. Out of love for God and her neighbor, she proclaimed Christ in the middle of the stadium. Now there are a number of reasons why one is good and does good to his neighbor. From the Wisdom of Seirach, we read that “EVERY BEAST LOVETH HIS LIKE, AND EVERY MAN LOVETH HIS NEIGHBOR. All flesh consorteth according to his kind, and a man will cleave to his like [Ecclesiastes 13:15-16]. We ought to be kindly disposed to our fellow creatures, even as our Savior bade us keep on loving OUR ENEMIES, BLESSING THOSE WHO CURSE US, DOING GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE US, AND PRAYING FOR THOSE WHO DESPITEFULLY USE US AND ARE PERSECUTING US. In this manner, we might become sons of Our Father Who is in the heavens…”
Let us now commence our narrative about a tender young maiden, who kept these commandments and who became a dwelling place of the Almighty Who empowered her. For we are mindful of how the Archangel Raphael once said to Tobit and Tobias: “IT IS GOOD TO KEEP CLOSE THE SECRET OF A KING, BUT IT IS HONORABLE TO REVEAL THE WORKS OF GOD” [Tob. 12:7]. Therefore, let us open our account of the life of Saint Kyriake, who lived during the 4th century in Eastern parts, that is, Anatolia. In the year 300 A.D., the joint Emperors in power and rule, Diocletian (284-305 A.D.) and Maximian (286-305 A.D.), were the veritable pain of the devil in works of impiety and fighting Christ. Dioclesian ruled throughout the East. Maximian, who was married to Diocletian’s daughter, governed the Western half of the Empire. Their reign of terror was based on their desire to extinguish the name of Christ from their domains. This state policy included the extermination of the Christian race from the face of the earth. The latter year of Diocletian’s reign marked the beginning of the most organized and extensive PERSECUTION OF THE CHRISTIANS: It came to be called THE GRET PERSECUTION (303-311 A.D.),
From a small age, this modest maiden demonstrated what stand she would later take in life. She did not participate in the disorderly playing of other little girls, nor did she occupy herself with unbecoming games nor with gossiping. She remained in her parents’ house where she greatly reverted and attended to their exhortations. When Kyriake arrived at an age of understanding, more so was the wisdom and prudence of her soul manifest. As she increased in bodily stature, more so had her knowledge and beauty heightened. No one ever heard babbling, criticizing, or lying. She was not interested in costly raiment, singing secular songs, or dancing. She preferred to listen to Church hymns and the lives of the Saints.
Though Kyriake was attractive, yet she did not parade her beauty before young men, that is, she did not adorn herself or make up her face to entice them. Nor did Kyriake peep out windows to waylay the souls of men. As her indispensable labor, she arrayed her soul with fasting, discipline, silence, prayer, guarding her eyes, and restraining her tongue. At that time, many chief men desired to betroth her to their sons. However, Kyriake cherished her virginity and, in emulation of the Most Holy Theotokos, she did not want to hear a word regarding marriage.
In those days, there was a very wealthy man, an idolater, who lived in the same city as Kyriake and her parents. According to his office, he was a Magistrate. When he heard that Kyriake was young and beautiful, and that no other maiden surpassed her loveliness and culture, he decided to betroth her to his son. On the one hand, he chose Kyriake for her beauty and learning; on the other hand, she was the only daughter of wealthy parents, and, indeed, he desired that her wealth should come into his control. With this hidden motive in mind, he notified the parents of the holy maiden to come to an agreement that their children might be brought together. However, the righteous Kyriake, since she was CONSECRATED TO GOD IN BOTH SOUL AND BODY, in no wise listened to his words. She only replied, “I AM A PURE BRIDE OF MY CHRIST, AND I DESIRE TO DIE A VIRGIN.” Hearing her response, the Magistrate was incensed. Straightway, he went to Emperor Diocletian and said, “O Emperor: live into eternity! All the world is subject to thy dominion and venerates the great gods. There is, however, one maiden, who contradicts thy commands. She mocks the idols and says that Christ is God. She not only has disdained the decrees of thy realm but even has collaborated with her parents as Christians. They, consequently, neither sacrifice to the idols nor submit to thy rule.”
Bearing these accusations, Diocletian was filled with wrath and, immediately, he dispatched soldiers to bring the maiden and her parents before him. When they were presented to the Emperor, he said, “Why do you not honor the great gods which my realm honors? Dorotheos answered, “We, O Emperor, did not learn from our ancestors to adore falsely-named gods. We were instructed in the worship of the ONE TRUE GOD, THE CHRIST….HE IS WHOM WE CONFESS AS THE TRUE GOD…” Angered, Diocletian charged his soldiers to spread Dorotheos on the ground and to give him a thrashing, until he either sacrificed to the gods or died from the beating… Indeed, in no wise ws he able to turn that pious couple from the Faith of Christ. Thereupon, he struck off their heads with swords and, thus, they ended their earthly sojourn.
Saint Kyriake was escorted to Maximian by Diocletian’s servants. When he first beheld the fair maiden, he marveled at her beauty. Afterward, when she was made to stand before the judgment seat, Maximian said to the Christian maiden, “…Emperor Diocletian did not wish to punish her as a Christian because he pitied thy comeliness.” “…but venerate the gods so thou might preserve your life…”. Kyriake replied thus: “Do not think, O Emperor, by fleeting flateries or by frightening punishments that I shall deny my sweetest Jesus Christ, for there is no torment, no chastisement, and no torture which can separate me from His love…It is not possible for me to renounce the piety of my fathers. Moreover, I consent to marry; for I prefer none other to my Christ, to Whom I have given myself, so I may live and die a virgin.”
Hearing these declarations, Maximian was filled with wrath. He immediately ordered that the hands and feet of the holy maiden be tied and that she be lashed with bullwhips. He shouted that she should be punished until she either renounce Christ or died under torture…that night in her cell, Christ appeared to the Saint, saying, “Feat not, O Kyriake, the tortures, of My grace shall be with thee, and shall deliver thee from every temptation.” As Christ uttered this, He healed her wounds and then ascended into the heavens…
The Prayer of St Kyriake
“…O Thou Who has dominion over heaven and earth, and has authority over life and death, Who are the Fashioner of souls and bodies, receive also my soul and place it with the wise virgins. I did not quench the grace of the Holy Spirit as the foolish virgins, nor did my soul slumber from carelessness on the path of this life. I hastened to follow Thee, treading on the road of Thy martyrdom. I pray for my fellow Christians who are suffering adversity for Thy name’s sake. I also pray for my adversaries and for the people of this great city that cannot discern between their right hadn and their left hand. Therefore, receive my soul into Thy hands and grant with them that dwell with Thee…”
Upon uttering this prayer, light-bearing Angels took her soul. Both the executioners and bystanders heard how she voluntarily surrendered her soul. Astonished, they remarked, Great is the God of the Christians Who has authority over life and death! If she did not wish to die, she would have also overcome the sword, as she formerly did the fire and the lions.” The executioners and people returned to Prefect Apollonios to report the entire matter. A bodiless voice was then heard, saying, “Proceed, brothers, and tell of all the great things of God.” [ Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George