Saint Kyriaki was the daughter of Christian parents, Dorotheus and Eusebia. She was given her name because she was born on Sunday, the day of the Lord (in Greek, Kyriaki).
Kyriaki was raised in a Christian enviornment and was highly respected, extremely educated, and philanthropic, but also very beautiful. Dorotheus and Eusevia were elderly and wanted security for Kyriaki upon their deaths which could be obtained through marriage. Kyriaki, being very devout in her Christian beliefs, wanted to follow the teachings of Saint Paul. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, he said that the highest virtue a woman could achieve was to guard her virginity and become a bride of Christ; therefore, Kyriaki refused her parents request.
The Saint’s parents were not dismayed, but praised God for granting them such a blessed child. Unfortunately, Kyriaki’s family was well known to the idolaters for their wealth and for Kyriaki herself. One of the idolaters wanted Kyriaki to marry his only son and she refused the proposal. Being extremely insulted and angered, the nobleman went to Diocletian and told him that this family did not worship the idols of the Romans. Diocletian summoned Dorotheus, Eusevia, and Kyriaki to his palace and ordered them to make sacrifices to the idols. Dorotheus told Diocletian that the only true God was Jesus Christ and that they would not worship the false gods of the Romans. Diocletian sent Dorotheus and Eusevia to the town of Melitini in Asia Minor to be tortured and executed. He sent Saint Kyriaki to Maximian, the ruler of Nicomedia, so that he could persuade her to sacrifice to the idols.
Dorotheus and Eusevia were tortured unmercifully. Upon seeing that they would not convert, Diocletian ordered his soldiers to execute them. Maximian tried to persuade the Saint with words and then by action to convert; however, Kyriaki remained steadfast in her beliefs. Maximian then sent her to the ruler of Bethany, Elarius, hoping that he could change her beliefs. Elarius ordered that the Saint be hung by her hair and that her naked body be burned with torches. Kyriaki faced the torture with great courage. She was then taken back to prison. That night, Kyriaki had a dream where Christ appeared to her. He said, “Kyriaki, have no fear of the tortures, for I am with you and will protect you.” He healed her burns and ascended into heaven.
The next day, Elarius summoned the Saint before him and seeing that her body had no wounds, he attributed the miracle to the pagan gods. Kyriaki informed him that she had not been cured by his gods, but by her Savior, Jesus Christ. Kyriaki was then taken to the pagan temple. After she had prayed to Christ, all the idols were destroyed. An earthquake shook the temple and Elarius was struck and killed by lightning.
After Elarius’ death, the ruler Apollonius was sent to rule Bethany. When he heard that Saint Kyriaki was trying to convert people to Christianity, he ordered his soldiers to find and seize her. He questioned the Saint and upon finding her guilty, ordered that she be burned to death. As God saved the three boys from the furnace, so he did with Saint Kyriaki. When the Saint began to pray, a heavy rain fell from a cloudless sky and extinguished the flames. When Apollonius saw that the fire had no effect on the Saint, Kyriaki was placed in an arena with two lions. The lions began to go towards the Saint and as soon as they reached her, they knelt on the ground at her feet. Many idolaters who witnessed this miracle confessed their belief in Christ and Apollonius immediately had these people executed. Kyriaki was again returned to prison.
The following day, Apollonius ordered his soldiers to bring Kyriaki before him to try again for her to denounce her beliefs which she refused and told him that she would welcome death since it meant sacrificing herself for Christ. Apollonius then decided to behead Kyriaki. When she was taken to the place of her execution, she asked to be left alone so that she could pray. Her request was granted and after she finished praying, angels descended and received her soul. When the executioners returned, they found that Saint Kyriaki had already died. They returned to Apollonius and informed him of the events which had occurred.
Christians took the body of the Virgin Martyr for burial, praising God and glorifying the courage of Saint Kyriaki. She contested in Nicomedia during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 300.
The Honorable Skull of St. Kyriaki is kept in the Sacred Monastery of the Archangels in Aigialeia, Greece. This Monastery was founded by Saint Leontios in c. 1450. As the son of an aristrocratic family of Constantinople, the Monastery was built with the support of his uncles Thomas and Demetrios Paleologos, who were impressed by the saintliness of their nephews life. As a gift they gave him also the Skull of St. Kyriaki from Constantinople, which remains a priceless treasure of the Monastery.
Feast Day: July 7
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone:
O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb Kyriaki doth cry with a great voice: ‘O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice.’ Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.
Kontakion in the Second Tone:
The Martyr of Christ Kyriaki hath called us all together now to praise and acclaim her wrestlings and her godly feats; for possessed of manliness of mind, she hath proved to be worthy of her name, being lady and mistress of her mind and the passions of unseemliness.