December 14, 2014

Holy Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos of Bythinia

Sts. Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos (Feast Day - December 14)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Saints Thyrsos and Leukios were honorable citizens of Caesarea of Bithynia, the former being baptized and the latter being a Christian catechumen. Kallinikos, however, was a pagan priest. When Emperor Decius’s heir, Cumbricius, began to mercilessly torture and murder Christians, the fearless Leukios appeared before him and, reproaching him, said: “Why have you waged war against your own soul, O Cumbricius?” The enraged judge ordered that he be flogged, tortured and finally beheaded. The tortured Leukios went to his beheading as joyfully as if he were going to a wedding. Witnessing the death of the courageous Leukios, blessed Thyrsos, inflamed with divine zeal like that of Leukios, also appeared before the judge and reproached him for his evil crimes and for his unbelief in the One True God. He also was flogged and cast into prison. The invisible hand of God healed him of his wounds, opened the prison door and led him out. Thyrsos immediately went to Phileas, the Bishop of Caesarea, to be baptized by him. After his baptism, he was again seized and tortured, but he endured the tortures, bearing them as though in a dream and not in reality. By the power of his prayer, many idols fell down. The pagan priest Kallinikos, upon seeing this, converted to the Christian Faith, and both he and Thyrsos were condemned to death. Kallinikos was beheaded, and they placed Thyrsos in a wooden coffin to be sawn in half. However, the power of God would not permit this, and the saw was unable to cut into the wood. Then St. Thyrsos arose from the coffin and prayed to God, rendering Him thanks for the tortures, and he peacefully gave up his soul to his Lord. At the end of the fourth century, the Emperor Flavian built a church to St. Thyrsos near Constantinople and placed his holy relics in it. The Saint appeared in a vision to Empress Pulcheria and counseled her to bury the relics of the Forty Martyrs (March 9) alongside his.*

The Holy Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

You knew the Faith, you acknowledged Christ,
You gave your bodies to save your souls:
For this your names shine in the heavens,
And an unquenchable fire glows in the Church.
Immortal heroes, pray for us,
That sinful clouds be turned away from us.
Blessed Leukios and noble Thyrsos,
Glorious Kallinikos and worthy Philemon,
And the others in order, who endured grievous torments-
Now you are citizens of a better universe.
O beautiful beacons, pray for us;
Martyrs of God, pray for the Church.
You knew love, a heavenly possession,
The earth knew it not, not even its true name;
You saw it wholly in the Son of God,
In the sign of the Crucifixion and in His bloody brow.
Now, you are near to God and behold His face.
You cover our sins by your prayers.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
With garlands and songs let us adorn the seven martyrs, Thyrsos, Philemon, and steadfast Apolonius, Arianus, Kallinikos, Apollonia and glorious Leukios, for they destroyed the enemy and are pillars of godliness. Together they shine on all the world with rays of heavenly grace.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Let us gather today, and praise the Church’s luminaries, acclaiming them as fitting trophy-bearers of Christ our God.


* These three Saints are also commemorated on August 17th, but there the name Kallinikos is replaced by Koronatos, an obvious confusion or copying error.