St. Kyriake of Rome
Commemorated on March 20
St. Kyriake was the sister of the Holy Martyr Photini, the Samaritan Woman, with whom the Savior conversed at Jacob’s Well (John. 4:5-42).
Summoned to appear before Emperor Nero, he asked the women whether they truly believed in Christ. They all refused to renounce the Savior. The emperor then gave orders to smash the martyrs’ finger joints. During the torments, the women felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.
St. Photini and her five sisters, Anatolia, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva and Kyriake, were sent to the imperial court under the supervision of Nero’s daughter, Domnina. St. Photini converted both Domnina and her servants to Christ. She also converted a sorcerer, who had brought her poisoned food that was meant to kill her.
Three years passed, and Emperor Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants, who had been locked up. The messengers reported to him that Sts. Sebastian, Photinus and Joses, who had been blinded, had completely recovered, and that people were visiting them to hear their preaching. Indeed, the whole prison had been transformed into a bright and fragrant place where God was glorified.
Nero then gave orders to crucify the saints, and to beat their naked bodies with straps. On the fourth day, the emperor sent servants to see whether the martyrs were still alive. Approaching the place of the tortures, the servants fell blind. An angel of the Lord freed the martyrs from their crosses and healed them. The saints took pity on the blinded servants, and restored their sight by their prayers to the Lord. Those who were healed came to believe in Christ and were soon baptized.
The sisters of St. Photini also suffered terrible torments. Nero gave orders to cut off their breasts and to flay their skin. An expert in cruelty, the emperor readied the fiercest execution for St. Photis – she was tied by the feet to the tops of two bent-over trees. When the ropes were cut, the trees sprang upright and tore the martyr apart. The emperor ordered the others beheaded, except for St. Photini.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)