|St. Cyril of Gortyna (Feast Day - June 14)|
Although Cyril of Gortyna was aged,
He had the heart of a young man as he hurried to the sword.
The Holy Hieromartyr Cyril flourished during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), and having lived a venerable and ascetic life, he was ordained Bishop of Gortyna in Crete at the age of 68. After governing the Church of Crete for 25 years, he was brought before the governor Agrianos in the year 299, "even though his body was weary with his advanced age," according to his anonymous biographer.
The anonymous biographer of the Saint informs us that Saint Cyril had foreseen his death in a vision. "Saint Cyril the Archbishop was in his home, and turning away from wickedness, he saw in a vision a large bird carry away his head and deposit it on a high mountain. Because he was an old man 93 years of age, a carriage drawn by two oxen brought him to the place of his martyrdom. Whereas up to that point the oxen were pulling the carriage willingly, a heavenly voice told them: 'only until here'."
Wherefore when the Saint stood before the governor on behalf of his Christian faith and preaching, he boldly proclaimed Christ as the true God, for which he was tied up and thrown alive into a flaming fire. Although the rope with which he was bound burned away, and the wood that kindled the flame turned to ashes, Saint Cyril remained unharmed. When the governor beheld such a marvel, he was released and set free.
However, because many pagans converted to the Christian faith through the preaching of Bishop Cyril, it was decided that he once again be put to death. Placing a bridle over his mouth, he was put on a carriage drawn by two oxen due to his old age, just as it was previously revealed to him. And arriving at a fortified and rugged place called Raxos, the oxen stopped the carriage, for a heavenly voice told them to stop there. And being taken down from the carriage, he bent his neck under the sword, and was beheaded. In this manner the blessed one received a double crown, both as a Hierarch and Athlete of the Lord.
A chapel dedicated to the memory of Saint Cyril is in the suburb of the Capetanians in Stavion of Monophatsiou, at the summit of the Asterousia Mountains of Crete.
It should be noted that there is another Hieromartyr Cyril of Gortyna, according to Dositheos of Jerusalem. He was martyred by Saracen invaders in the year 780 for not denying his faith in Christ. It is said that his blood turned to myrrh, and when it was gathered with sponges by the Christians, the color remained unchanged.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Let us praise Cyril, the luminary of Crete and Gortyna, the President of the Church and fervent protector of the world, celebrating the memory of his feast with hymns and spiritual songs. Glory to Him Who declared you sacred, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who gave you to us as a vigilant intercessor.
Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Crying out loudly let us praise Cyril, the never-setting star of the world and the vigilant shepherd of the island of Crete. You are free to speak boldly before the Lord to free us from all tribulations. Wherefore we cry: Rejoice, Father of blessed memory.
Rejoice, beauty of the Martyrs and the most glorious joy of the Hierarchs. Rejoice, great guardian and glory of Crete. Hierarch Cyril, shelter your flock.