On July 7, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates the feast of Agia Kyriaki the Great Martyr.
Agia Kyriaki was Dorothea and Eusebia’s only child. As she was born on a Sunday (Kyriaki, in Greek), her name was Kyriaki.
One day, a wealthy magistrate wanted to betroth Kyriaki to his son. Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy and the magistrate wanted to control that wealth. The magistrate went to her parents to ask for her hand, but Saint Kyriaki told him that she wished to remain a virgin, as she had consecrated herself to Christ.
The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to Emperor Diocletian to denounce the saint and her parents as Christians who mocked idols and refused to offer sacrifices to them.
Diocletian sent soldiers to arrest the family and bring them before him. He asked them why they wouldn’t honor the gods he himself honored. They told him that they were false gods and that Christ was the only true God.
Dorothée was beaten until the soldiers were tired and unable to continue. As neither flattery nor torment had any effect, Diocletian sent Dorotheus and Eusebia to Melitene on the eastern border between Cappadocia and Armenia. Then he sent Saint Kyriaki to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler Maximian in Nicomedia.
Maximian urged her not to waste her life, promising her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian’s relatives if she worshiped pagan gods. Saint Kyriaki replied that she would never deny Christ, nor did she desire the riches of the world. Enraged by her bold response, Maximien had her whipped. The soldiers who administered this punishment became fatigued and had to be replaced three times.
Ashamed of not having succeeded in defeating a young woman, Maximian sent Saint Kyriaki to Hilarion, the Eparch of Bithynia, in Chalcedon. He told Hilarion to either convert Kyriaki to paganism or send her back to him.
Making the same promises and threats that Diocletian and Maximian had made before, Hilarion was no more successful than them. Saint Kyriaki challenged him to do his best, for Christ would help him to triumph. The saint was hung up by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches. Not only did she endure all of this, but she also seemed to grow more courageous under the torture. Eventually, she was taken down and placed in a prison cell.
That night Christ appeared to her and healed her wounds. When Hilarion saw her the next day, he declared that she had been healed by the gods because they had pity on her. So Hilarion urged her to go to the temple to give thanks to the gods. She told him that she had been healed by Christ but had agreed to go to the temple. The eparch rejoiced, thinking he had defeated her.
In the temple, Saint Kyriaki prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols. Suddenly there was a great earthquake that toppled the idols, shattering them into pieces. Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving Hilarion behind. Instead of acknowledging the power of Christ, the eparch blasphemed the true God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was struck by lightning and died instantly.
Saint Kyriaki was again tortured by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as Eparch. When she was thrown into a fire, the flames went out. When she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle. Therefore, Apollonius condemned her to death by the sword. She had time to pray, so she asked God to receive her soul and to remember those who honored her martyrdom.
Just as Saint Kyriaki finished her prayer, the angels took her soul before the soldiers could cut off her head. Devout Christians took his relics and buried them in a place of honor.
Today is also the name day of Kyriakos and Kyriaki. Xronia Polla!