July 15, 2010

The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Kyrikos and his Mother Julitta

Holy Martyrs Julitta and Kyrikos (Feast Day - July 15)

St. Julitta flourished during the terrible and tempestuous times of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305), that fearful persecutor of Christians. She came from Iconium in Lycaonia, Asia Minor, and was one of the most pious and faithful of Christians. After the death of her husband at a very young age, she dedicated herself to bringing up her infant son, whom she Baptized with the name Kyrikos.

She taught him up to the age of three, with exceeding care and diligence, but particularly by her example of faith in, and love for, our Lord Jesus Christ, which she expressed in prayer, a holy and virtuous life, partaking of the Holy Mysteries, and the confession of His Holy Name.

When the victims of the persecution against Christians multiplied, St. Julitta took her little and much-loved Kyrikos and sought refuge in Seleucia, Cilicia. But there, too, the flame of persecution raged. Thus, the Saint fled to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Nations.

There, the governor of the city, Alexander by name, a ferocious and bestial man, learned of the Saint and summoned her to defend herself. Seeing the love which she nurtured for her little, Grace-filled Angel, Kyrikos, he attempted to conquer her Faith by threatening her and her child with death. But the Saint remained steadfast and undaunted, and was ready to offer herself as a living and blameless sacrifice, together with her young son, rather than deny the true Faith.

So, the governor angrily snatched little Kyrikos from his mother’s arms and began to wheedle, caress, and kiss him, in order to sway his mother and to attract the boy to his side. However, our Lord, Who grants wisdom and enlightenment to infants, bestowed, through the Holy Spirit, “a mouth and wisdom” (St. Luke 21:15) upon Kyrikos, who was small in age but great in confession.

The Divinely-illumined infant began to invoke the Name of Christ with a stammering voice and to cry: “I am a Christian! ...Let me go to my mother!” Indeed, in order to escape from the tyrant, he began to strike him and kick him in the stomach, saying clearly and persistently: “I love Christ!”

Alexander the Governor, unable to endure the blows of young Kyrikos and, in particular, the defeat and the disgrace occasioned by the child’s confession, blew up in rage and with ferocity and inhumanity threw the infant down the steps of the tribunal, kicking him with all his might. The blessed infant received a mortal blow to his head and surrendered his holy and innocent little soul to Christ the Master. In this way, he was counted worthy to receive with glory the crown of confession and suffering.

At this sight, the thrice-blessed mother of the Child-Martyr, overcoming nature by her faith in Christ and giving thanks to God, said to the tyrant: “Even as you crushed the head of my child, so will your false religion be crushed, you harsh and pitiless ruler.”

After experiencing fearsome tortures, and yet not denying our sweetest Jesus, St. Julitta, the mother and Martyr, was beheaded in the year 304, receiving the crown of martyrdom, that she might rejoice with her three-year-old lamb, St. Kyrikos, and be glorified together with him in Heaven by the Angels and on earth by men.

Our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates their memory on July 15.

The Life, Confession, and Martyrdom of Sts. Kerykos and Julitta are truly a powerful reproach for Christians of our age and a constant reminder of our duty and responsibility to emulate them, since our Faith is founded on the blood of such exemplary persons, who sacrificed even their very lives for the love of our Savior.

May our Lord Jesus Christ grant Orthodox Christians the Grace to confess His Holy Name and to put His saving commandments into practice for their eternal salvation. Amen!


The relics of Sts Kyrikos and Julitta were uncovered during the reign of Constantine the Great (May 21). A monastery was built near Constantinople in honor of these Holy Martyrs, and a church was built not far from Jerusalem. The relics of Saints Kyriakos and Julitta, even today, are miracle working. Part of the relics of these Saints is to be found in Ochrid in the hospital chapel of the Holy Theotokos.

In the 6th century the Acts of Kyrikos and Julitta were rejected in a list of apocryphal documents by the pseudo-Gelasius, called as such since the list was erroneously attributed to Pope Saint Gelasius I.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Blessed Julitta, Christ God's rational ewe-lamb, with holy Kyrikos, her three-year-old offspring, stood at the judgment seat and with authority and great boldness they proclaimed the true Faith of the Christians. In no wise were they afraid of the threats of the tyrants; and now in Heaven, wearing precious crowns, they both rejoice as they stand before Christ our God.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
As the Martyr of Christ God, the chaste Julitta, in her arms bare Kyrikos, she cried out in the stadium with manful courage and boundless joy: Thou art the strength of the Martyrs, O Christ my God.