May 10, 2018

Holy Martyrs and Brothers Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus

Sts. Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus (Feast Day - May 10)


To Alphius.
Although the tongue of Alphius was taken from him,
The tongue of his soul glorifies you O Word.

To Philadelphus.
Philadelphus showed himself to be a friend of Christ,
The friend of Christ contested on a fiery grill.

To Cyrinus.
Once O Savior you ate a portion of broiled fish,
In the same way receive Cyrinus who was broiled.

The Holy Martyrs Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus were three brothers from Vaste in Southern Italy during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251), and were the sons of the governor of that area whose name was Vitale and their mother was Benedicta. They were taught piety and the Sacred Scriptures by Onesimus, a holy man who preached Christ.

They were first interrogated by Nigellione, the emperor's delegate for southern Italy, who, powerless to weaken their convictions, had them transferred to Rome, convinced that, far from the influence of their teacher Onesimus, they would be more yielding to the wishes of the imperial authorities. They arrived in Rome and were locked up in the Mamertine prison at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, and they underwent another trial by the prefect Licinius, which ended with nothing. At Rome the pagans crushed the chest of Saint Onesimus with a heavy stone, killing him.

Then they were transferred to Pozzuoli, where even Diomedes failed to convert them, and, subsequently, to Sicily, where Tertullo, a young Roman patrician and ruler of the island, had acquired a reputation as an authoritarian official. There the three brothers were sentenced after being tortured by all of the above rulers. Alphius who was 22 had his tongue torn out and was beheaded, Philadelphus who was 21 was burnt to death on a gridiron, and Cyrinus who was 19 was boiled to death in oil. In this way the three holy brothers gained the victorious crowns of martyrdom.

On the orders of Tertullo, their martyred bodies were tied with ropes and dragged into a forest, called "strobilio" due to the large number of existing pines. The relics were thrown into a dry well near the house of Thecla, now converted to the faith of Christ after previously encountering the three brothers, accompanied by her cousin Justina and eleven servants (including five women). They extracted their bodies and transported them to a nearby countryside of Lentini, where they gave them a worthy burial, in a small cave, that today contains the Church of Sant'Alfio.

In 787, due to the threat of invasions by the Muslims, the Bishop of Lentini had the relics secretly transferred to a Norman sanctuary on the acropolis of Apollonia (now San Fratello). For centuries the people of Lentini had no idea where the relics of the three martyrs were located. This until September 22, 1516, when some workers, in tearing down a wall of the Monastery of Fragalà in the municipality of Frazzanò, found hidden in a sack of canvas a box containing human bones and a manuscript in ancient Greek. The abbot, being informed, was careful to have the document confirmed that these bones were the human remains of the three young brothers who had been martyred in Lentini. Great was the joy of the monks who, after a solemn procession, kept the relics in their church, under the altar long consecrated to the three martyrs.

Saints Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus also appeared to Saint Euthalia (March 2) and told her that she would be healed of an affliction after she was baptized.