Saints Cyricus and Julitta, Martyrs

June 16

Today is the feast day of Saints Cyricus and Julitta.  Orate pro nobis. 

The Golden Legend relates that Cyricus (Quiricus) was the son of Julitta, a noble lady of Icona. In order to escape persecution, she took refuge at Tarsus in Cilicia with her child, who was then three years old. She was recognized as a Catholic and reported to the authorities, and brought before the tribunal of the prefect Alexander. Because her two servants took flight, she had to bring her small son with her. 

When Julitta refused to pray to the idols, the prefect Alexander took the child from her arms and ordered her to be whipped with raw thongs. At the sight of his mother’s tortures, Cyricus began to cry out and shed tears. Alexander, who was holding the child in his lap, tried to quiet him with caresses and kind words. But the small child repulsed these blandishments with honor and scratched Alexander’s face with his nails, crying out, “I am a Christian!” (1)

According to the Acts of their martyrdom, which appeared later, and a letter of the sixth century, Julitta fled with her three-months-old child, Quiricus, from Lycaonia, when the Maximinian persecution broke out there, to Isauria and thence to Tarsus in Cilicia. She suffered martyrdom in the last-named city after her child had first been killed before her eyes. The veneration of the two martyrs was common in the West at an early date, as is proved by the chapel dedicated to them in the Church of Santa MariaAntiqua at Rome, as well as by testimony from Gaul. Their relics are said to have been brought to the monastery of Saint-Amand (Elnonense monasterium) in the Diocese of Tournai. (2)

Image: The life of Saint Quiricus and Saint Juliet. Russian icon. (3)


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