St. Kyriake (Sunday) icon

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Orthodox Icon of Great Virgin Martyr Kyriake, Sunday, Kyriaki of Nicomedia.

Commemorated July 7.

This is the Orthodox icon of Saint Kyriake who was the only child of Dorotheus and Eusebia who live in Anatolia during the "reign of terror" when there were many persecution of the Christians. The couple was childless and petitioned God for a child. Shortly thereafter Evsevia conceived and gave birth on Sunday (Kyriake, in Greek), so she was named Kyriake. Kyriake was a devout child living a sheltered life and desired to live life as a virgin.

One day a wealthy magistrate wished to betroth Kyriake to his son. Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy, and the magistrate wished to control that wealth. The magistrate went to her parents to request her hand, but St Kyriake told him that she wished to remain a virgin, for she had dedicated herself to Christ.

The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to the emperor Diocletian to denounce the saint and her parents as Christians who mocked the idols, and refused to offer sacrifice to them. Diocletian, angered, sent soldiers to arrest the family and have them brought before him. He asked them why they would not honor the gods which he himself honored. They told him that these were false gods, and that Christ was the one true God. Dorotheus was beaten until the soldiers grew tired and were unable to continue.

Since neither flattery nor torment had any effect, Diocletian sent Dorotheus and Eusebia to Melitene on the eastern border between Cappadocia and Armenia where they were tortured. Then he sent St Kyriake to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler Maximian at Nicomedia. Maximian promised her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian's relatives if she would worship the pagan gods. St Kyriake replied that she would never renounce Christ, nor did she desire worldly riches.

Enraged by her bold answer, Maximian had her flogged to no avail. Maximian then sent St Kyriake to Hilarion, the eparch of Bithynia, at Chalcedon. He told Hilarion to either convert Kyriake to paganism, or send her back to him. Hilarion was no more successful than they were. The saint was suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches. Not only did she endure all this, she also seemed to become more courageous under torture. Finally, she was taken down and put into a prison cell.

That night Christ appeared to her and healed her wounds. When Hilarion saw her the next day, he declared that she had been healed by the gods because they pitied her. Then Hilarion urged her to go to the temple to give thanks to the gods. She told him that she had been healed by Christ, but agreed to go to the temple. The eparch rejoiced, thinking that he had defeated her. In the temple, St Kyriake prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake which toppled the idols, shattering them to pieces.

Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving Hilarion behind. Instead of recognizing the power of Christ, the eparch blasphemed the true God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot. St Kyriake was tortured again by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as eparch. When she was cast into a fire, the flames were extinguished. When she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle.

Therefore, Apollonius finally sentenced her to death by the sword. She was permitted time to pray, so she offered herself as a sacrifice and asked God to receive her soul, and to remember those who honored her martyrdom. After this prayer God took her soul and bystanders marveled at how she voluntarily gave over her soul to God.u00a0Pious Christians took her relics and buried them in a place of honor.

Reference: O.C.A.

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