On July 7 the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates the Feast Day of Agia Kyriaki the Great Martyr.
Agia Kyriaki was the only child of Dorotheus and Eusebia. Since she was born on a Sunday (Kyriaki, in Greek), she was named Kyriaki.
One day a wealthy magistrate wished to betroth Kyriaki to his son. Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy, and the magistrate wished to control that wealth. The magistrate went to her parents to request her hand, but Saint Kyriaki told him that she wished to remain a virgin, for she had dedicated herself to Christ.
The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to the emperor Diocletian to denounce the saint and her parents as Christians who mocked the idols, and refused to offer sacrifice to them.
Diocletian sent soldiers to arrest the family and have them brought before him. He asked them why they would not honour the gods which he himself honoured. They told him that these were false gods and that Christ was the one true God.
Dorotheus was beaten until the soldiers grew tired and were unable to continue. Since 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 at Nicomedia.
Maximian urged her not to throw her life away, promising her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian’s relatives if she would worship the pagan gods. Saint Kyriaki replied that she would never renounce Christ, nor did she desire worldly riches. Enraged by her bold answer, Maximian had her flogged. The soldiers who administered this punishment became tired and had to be replaced three times.
Shamed by his failure to overcome a young woman, Maximian sent Saint Kyriaki to Hilarion, the eparch of Bithynia, at 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 they were. Saint Kyriaki challenged him to do his worst because Christ would help her to triumph. The saint was suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches. Not only did she endure all this, she also seemed to become more courageous under torture. Finally, she was taken down and put into 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 pitied her. Then 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 agreed to go to the temple. The eparch rejoiced, thinking that he had defeated her.
Saint Kyriaki prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols in the temple. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake that toppled the idols, shattering them to pieces. Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving Hilarion behind. Instead of recognizing the power of Christ, the eparch blasphemed the true God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot.
Saint Kyriaki was tortured again by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as eparch. When she was cast into a fire, the flames were extinguished. When she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle. Therefore, Apollonius sentenced her to death by the sword. She was permitted time to pray, so she asked God to receive her soul, and to remember those who honoured her martyrdom.
Just as Saint Kyriaki ended her prayer, angels took her soul before the soldiers could strike off her head. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them in a place of honour.
Today is also the name day of Kyriakos and Kyriaki. Xronia Polla!