December 15, 2016

Synaxarion of the Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherios and Saint Anthia his Mother

On the fifteenth of this month [December], we commemorate the Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherios.


To Saint Eleutherios
Eleutherios as a liberated nature,
Beholds the blade and is not enslaved to error.
On the fifteenth divine Eleutherios was struck by the sword.

To Saint Anthia
Mother gave her child to the world of the dead,
And she went there cut up by the sword.

To Saint Coremun
Coremun did not contest to satiety,
Until the sword cut at his neck.

To the Two Holy Executioners
The two executioners perceived you as God O Savior,
Other executioners slaughtered them with a sword.

He was from the city of Rome, in the year 117, very young in age, orphaned of a father, having only a mother, whose name was Anthia. She had been taught by the Apostle Paul the faith in Christ.

When he was a child he was offered by his mother to Bishop Anicetus of Rome.* From him he learned sacred letters, and was numbered among those in the clerical order, becoming a Reader. When he was fifteen years old he was ordained a Deacon. At the age of eighteen he was ordained a Priest, and at the age of twenty he was ordained Bishop of Illyricum,** having worked many miracles beforehand due to his exceeding virtue.

Having converted many Greek pagans to the faith of Christ through his teachings, for this reason he was brought before Emperor Hadrian. There he proclaimed Christ as the true God, and at the order of the emperor he was placed on a fiery brazen gridiron, underneath which was lit coals. Then he was laid out over a very fiery altar. After this he was placed in a fiery cauldron full of oil, pitch and resin. By the grace of God however he was kept unharmed from all these.

At the order of the prefect Coremun a furnace was built, which had sharp spits on either side. Coremun was the first to enter this, full of the Holy Spirit, for he had confessed Christ as God. Emerging unharmed from this, he was beheaded, and received the crown of martyrdom.

When Saint Eleutherios was placed in the furnace, the fire was immediately extinguished, and he emerged whole and unharmed. Then he was thrown in prison. After this he was bound to a chariot and pulled by wild horses, but he was unbound by a divine Angel.

He then went up to a high mountain, where he dwelt with wild animals. They were calm when the Saint meditated on the words of God. Because soldiers were sent to capture him, the Saint admonished them, and they returned to faith in Christ and were baptized. Not only them, but many other Greek pagans, up to five hundred of them, believed in Christ.

He was brought to the emperor and given over to the beasts to be devoured, but he was kept whole and unharmed. Finally he was killed by two soldiers at the order of the emperor. His mother Anthia embraced the dead relic of her son, and as she kissed it, she was killed by the sword. This happened after her son received the crown of the contest. His Synaxis is celebrated in his martyric Temple which is next to Xerolofou.***


* The year 117 is somewhat problematic, seeing that it is also said that he was educated and ordained by Pope Anicetus, who was Bishop of Rome from 155 to 166. If he was indeed educated and ordained by this Pope, then a later date is necessary. However, it also states that his mother was educated by the Apostle Paul, who was beheaded in 67 A.D., and that he was martyred during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 to 138. Therefore, there is some copyist error here that is impossible to resolve with precision, unless the mistake is in the fact that he was educated by Pope Anacletus, who was Bishop of Rome from 76 to 88. The year 117 may be the date of his martyrdom. This is what probably makes the most sense.

** It should be noted that the canons which required a minimum age for the clerical orders were not written until the Synod of Neocaesarea in c. 315, which required a minimum age of 30 for a presbyter. The Sixth Ecumenical Synod in 681 affirmed this. Typically a bishop should not be less than fifty years old, unless it is difficult to find someone at such an advanced age to serve.

*** St. Athanasios Parios composed and published his divine office, while Fr. Gerasimos Mikragiannanites composed a Supplicatory Canon.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Adorned with the robe of priest and stained with streams of blood, O wise and blessed Eleutherios, thou didst hasten to Christ thy Master, O overthrower of Satan. Unceasingly pray for those who faithfully honour thy contest.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
We all praise and entreat thee, Hieromartyr Eleutherios, adornment of priests, encouragement of martyrs: free from danger those who lovingly celebrate thy memory; and pray unceasingly for us all.