“…the glorious great Martyr and all-laudable Euphemia; the holy and glorious Martyrs Thecla, Barbara, Anastasia, Katherine, Kyriake, Fotene, Marina, Paraskeve and Irene” Every Orthros, before the chanting of the Megalynarion, the deacon or priest reads a prayer which remembers some of the most influential Saints of the Church. Yet, how familiar are we with the lives of the Saints we remember each Sunday? The spiritual significance of this prayer is understood better with a greater understanding of the Saints remembered in it.
One such Saint is Kyriaki (known in the West as Santa Domenica), who was born in Nicomedia to faithful parents Dorotheus and Eusebia. Like the Old Testament couples Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Elkana and Hannah, Dorotheus and Eusebia were barren and childless, yet maintained unshakable faith. After much diligent prayer, they were blessed with the birth of Kyriaki, who was born on the Lord’s day, as her name implies. This seemingly coincidental event foreshadowed the rest of her devout life. Just as the day “Kyriaki (Sunday)” had been devoted to the Lord from the beginning of time, so was Kyriaki’s life devoted to Him from the day of her birth.
As with many other female saints, St. Kyriaki unwittingly attracted countless suitors and firmly denied each of them, including the son of a wealthy magistrate from Nicomedia. The infuriated magistrate gave the family over to emperor Diocletian, who pressed them to worship idols and renounce Christianity. Diocletian exiled her parents, but Kyriaki was sent back to Nicomedia for further torture. The torture she experienced under Maximian and later Hilarion was gruesome — ceaseless flogging, burning, and imprisonment. Yet, she remained unmoved. She would only praise the one true God. In the end, the torture fulfilled neither of its objectives: it did not kill her and it did not shake her faith. She was subjected to death by sword. However, before the soldiers applied the sword, God received her soul into the life beyond death.
Apolytikion for St. Kyriaki in Tone 5
You proved to be an auspicious and pleasing sacrifice, a holy offering, O valiant prizewinner Kyriaki, when you brought your Creator your own spotless soul; which Christ in turn has glorified, for through you, He poured forth divine gifts and endless graces upon the faithful who praise you, since He is the Lover of mankind.
“Festal Orthros on July 07 Great-Martyr Kyriaki of Nicomedia.” Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, n.d. Web.
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