The Holy Martyrs Kirykos and Julitta of Iconium


Whose Memory the Holy Church Celebrates on the 15th of July

+ + +

Saint Julitta was a devout Christian of noble birth who lived in Iconium, a city of Lycaonia in Asia Minor. She was widowed young, and left with a newborn child, Kirykos. She had her son baptized immediately after his birth and, when he was three years old, instructed him in the Faith and taught him to pray insofar as a child of that age is capable of learning.

In 296 AD, when Diocletian (284-305) launched a persecution of Christians, much innocent blood was shed in the city of Iconium. Saint Julitta took her son and fled to the town of Seleucia to hide from the wrath of the pagans, but things were no better there, so she fled to Tarsus of Cilicia. Now the governor of that city, Alexan­der, was a brutal man who also persecuted of Christians. Saint Julitta was arrested, beaten and brought to trial. While being beaten with rods she continued to say, “I am a Christian, and will not offer sacrifice to demons.”

Saint Kirykos, yet an infant, was separated from his mother. Seeing that Saint Julitta was courageously confessing her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the governor, hoping to distress her and cause her to waver, took up the comely child into his arms, kissing him and speaking to him in soft persuasive words, flattering him. Nevertheless, the young saint only fixed his eyes steadfastly upon his mother who was being thrashed and proclaimed loudly, “I am a Christian; let me go to my mother!” He then began to scratch the governor and, despite his infancy, the holy child, moved by God, kicked the belly of the governor as hard as he could, and stated, “I love Christ.” The enraged governor furiously threw the child down and kicked him, causing the young martyr to roll down the stone steps, thus striking his head, and surrendering his holy and innocent soul unto the Master Christ.

Meanwhile, being tried with many torments, Saint Julitta, seeing how her son suffered before her, was filled with joy and gave thanks to God that he had been counted worthy of the wreath of martyrdom. After harsh torture the idolaters, being unable to persuade her to deny Christ, beheaded her with a sword and thus this ever-memorable mother also received the crown of martyrdom in the year 304 AD.

The relics of Saints Kirykos and Julitta were uncovered during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great (306-337) and a monastery was built near Constantinople in their honour.