St. Heliconis, Martyr, of Thessalonica


Commemorated on May 28

St. Heliconis lived during the third century in the city of Thessalonica. She arrived in the city of Corinth during a persecution of Christians, and urged the pagans to stop serving idols and to worship the one true God, the Creator of the Universe.

For preaching the Gospel of Christ, St. Heliconis was arrested and brought before Governor Perinus, who attempted to persuade her to offer sacrifice to idols by using flattery and threats. By refusing his overtures, St. Heliconis was subjected to tortures, but she bravely endured them. She was thrown into a hot furnace, but emerged from it unharmed when an angel of the Lord came and cooled the flames.

Thinking St. Heliconis was a sorceress, the governor invented new ways to persecute her. The skin was torn from her head, and her breasts and head were burned with fire. After stopping the torture, Perinus again attempted to urge St. Heliconis to offer sacrifice to the idols, promising her honors and the title of priestess. It appeared that Heliconis consented, and the pagan priests and the people led her to their temple.

At the saint’s request, she was left alone in the temple. Filled with heroic strength, she cast down and smashed all the idols. When the pagan priests reentered the temple, they were even more enraged and cursed the holy virgin shouting, “Put the sorceress to death!” They beat her and threw her into prison, where she spent five days. However, Christ the Savior and the holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel appeared to her and healed her wounds.

Ultimately, Governor Perinus ordered that St. Heliconis be torn apart by wild beasts. Three hungry lions were set upon her, but they came up to St. Heliconis and lay down at her feet. The pagan mob shouted, “Death to the sorceress.” Upon hearing the cries of the mob, the lions jumped out of the arena and pounced on the people, who fled in terror.

Not knowing what else to do, the governor ordered that St. Heliconis be beheaded. The saint went to execution with joy and heard a Voice summoning her to the heavenly habitations.

St. Heliconis received the crown of martyrdom in 244, and her body was reverently buried by Christians.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)