July 15, 2014

Saints Julitta and Kyrikos as Models for our Lives

Sts. Julitta and Kyrikos (Feast Day - July 15)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Synaxaria of our Church are a blooming garden with various flowers large and small, each of which, however, emitting their own spiritual fragrance. That is, in the Synaxaria there are saints of all ages, from infants and young children to centenarians over a hundred years old. There are, for example, the infants slaughtered by Herod "from the age of two and under", as well as the Holy Hieromartyr Haralambos, who was martyred at 113 years of age. Saint Kyrikos, whose life we are studying, was only 3 years old. He was martyred on the same day as his mother Julitta and for this reason they are celebrated together.

Saint Julitta was from Iconium. After the repose of her husband she undertook the full upbringing and education of her son Kyrikos. When persecution broke out during the reign of Diocletian, Julitta fled with three-year-old Kyrikos to Seleucia and then to Tarsus of Cilicia. There they were both arrested and brought before the pagan Governor. Saint Julitta confessed her faith with admirable courage, and three-year-old Kyrikos was not afraid, but calmly he also confessed in his own way his faith, since he was constantly mumbling the name of Christ. When the Governor urged Saint Julitta to deny Christ and sacrifice to idols, young Kyrikos kicked him with his foot, as much as physically possible, and then he in a rage took the child from his mother's arms and threw him hard against the steps of the stairs, resulting in his martyric death. Despite the great pain Saint Julitta experienced, she did not lose her serenity and peace and she again confessed her faith in Christ with more courage. She rebuked the Governor for his cowardly act and then he full of rage ordered her beheading, and so mother and son dance together in heavenly dwellings and rejoice together with all the saints.

Their life and disposition give us the opportunity to highlight the following:

The Apolytikion of the Martyrs says the following:

The beautiful martyr of Christ Julitta, 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.

In other words, the Martyrs who appeared before the judgment seat of the pagan Governor were not sad, scared or frightened, but peaceful and joyful and they proclaimed their faith in Christ with boldness. Besides, cowardice is not a characteristic of the true disciples of Christ, but rather bravery is and this is what will always distinguish them, especially in difficult moments of their lives. That is, when difficulties take place in our lives and tragic events such as the death of loved ones, and all seems black, life seems not worth living and desperation stands at the door, they do not lose courage, do not despair, but through prayer they turn towards God, and they receive strength from Him, courage and true consolation.

The pain of a mother who sees her child killed before her eyes is truly unbearable and can lead to tragic situations, if they are not ready or prepared to accept strength from on high and consolation, that is, if they have not learned to pray, by which they are open to God and ready to accept His Grace, which can strengthen her and console her.

For the one who truly believes in the existence of Paradise and eternal life, as well as the promises of God to us for the enjoyment of eternal goods, things become simpler and easier. The thought does not occur that they will never see their loved ones again, because they know very well they will meet again and will rejoice and be glad together with the saints and the angels. Basil the Great exhorts us in this matter: "May we achieve this, after purifying ourselves of our passions."

There is nothing worse in life as discomforting pain due to our lack of faith, and nothing higher than perfect faith which drips the hope of eternal goods in the soul and truly consoles it.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΚΑΛΛΙΝΙΚΟΙ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΕΣ ΚΗΡΥΚΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΤΤΑ", July 2009. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.