The Holy martyrs Cyrus and John

The Holy martyrs Cyrus and John

The Holy martyrs Cyrus and John were physicians who lived during the years of Emperor Diocletian's persecutions. After entering monastic lives they came to Canopis to encourage Athanasia and her daughters in their faith when they were enduring persecution and torture, and suffered martyrdom with them. They are commemorated on January 31.


Born in Alexandria of Egypt in the third century A.D. to faithful Christian parents, St. Cyrus was raised to be a true follower of Christ from an early age. St. Cyrus attended the university in Alexandria becoming a medical physician. He treated his patients without pay or rewards. St. Cyrus healed in the name of Jesus Christ with prayers and by reciting passages from the Old Testament. After his patients were healed he would advise them that in order to stay healthy they must obey God’s commandments and not sin as most of the time sickness comes through sin.

As St. Cyrus became popular the citizens of Alexandria built him a hospital, which was converted into a church after his martyrdom. It was a place where miracles occurred even after his repose due to the grace of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the saint. Aside from his healing and hospital duties St. Cyrus was a strong Christian teaching Christianity to the population of Alexandria. Many baptisms were performed and the church of Alexandria grew.

At that time the emperor of the Roman world was the pagan Diocletian (284-305) who was known for his merciless Christian persecutions. By preaching Christianity St. Cyrus was disobeying the laws of Rome to worship Roman Gods, an offense punishable by death. The governor of Alexandria was to arrest the saint who narrowly escaped to Arabia and became a monk near a monastery close to the Persian Gulf. Through prayer and fasting St. Cyrus became a miracle worker. He could heal many illnesses by merely praying and performing the sign of the cross. It was to this monastery another physician arrived, St John, a military doctor in the forces of Diocletian.

Back in Egypt the persecutions continued and the newly appointed governor Syrianos tortured and executed anyone mentioning the name of Jesus. A pious Christian woman named Athanasia was arrested along with her three young daughters – Theoctista, age fifteen, Theodota, age thirteen, and Eudoxia, age eleven, in the town of Canopis. When learning this Ss. Cyrus and John came to the Canopis prison to encourage the women not to abandon their faith. Needless to say the saints were arrested and tortured with beatings, whippings and burnings with lighted torches and boiling tar. This example of Christian courage and devotion strengthened the resolve of Athanasia, Theoctista, Theodota and Eudoxia who were also similarly tortured and beheaded only to be canonized as Saints of our Church.

Furious by their refusal to pay homage to Roman Gods, Syrianos had Ss. Cyrus and John beheaded (311). They were buried in the church of the disciple and evangelist St. Mark. In the fifth century the relics of Ss. Cyrus and John were initially transferred from Canopis to Mauphin and later to Rome during the reign of Arcadius. Eventually they were brought to Munich. We invoke the Unmercenary Ss. Cyrus and John during the Blessing of the Water and in the Sacrament of Holy Unction.

31 january: Martyr Tryphaena of Cyzicus (1st century); Martyrs Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudius, Diodorus, Serapion, and Papias, at Corinth (251 or 258); Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cyrus and John, and Martyrs Athanasia and her daughters Theoctista, Theodota, and Eudoxia, at Canopus in Egypt (311); Martyrs Saturninus, Thyrsus and Victor, at Alexandria; Martyrs Tharsicius, Zoticus, Cyriacus, and their companions, at Alexandaria; Saint Julius of Aegina (Julius of Novara), missionary priest to northern Italy (401); Saint Athanasius, Bishop of Methone (c. 880) Saint Geminian of Modena, Deacon and later successor of the Bishop of Modena (348); Saint Marcella of Rome (410); Saint Madoes (Madianus), a saint who has left his name to a place in the Carse of Gowrie in Scotland; Saint Áedan (Maedoc), first Bishop of Ferns in Co. Wexford in Ireland, where he also founded and became abbot of a monastery (626); Saint Adamnan, born in Ireland, he became a monk at Coldingham, now in Scotland (681); Saint Wilgils, father of St Willibrord, hermit (c. 700); Saint Bobinus, monk at Moutier-la-Celle, later became Bishop of Troyes (c. 766); Saint Ulphia (Wulfia, Olfe, Wulfe), hermitess near Amiens in France (8th century); Saint Eusebius, monk at St Gall in Switzerland and later lived as a hermit on Mt St Victor in the Vorarlberg (884); Saint John Angelus, monk at Pomposa (c. 1050); Venerable Nikita, recluse of the Kiev Caves, Bishop of Novgorod (1108); Venerable Pachomius, abbot of Keno Lake Monastery (1525) (see also May 15); New Monk-martyr Elias (Ardunis) of Mt. Athos and Kalamata (1686); Saint Arsenius the New, of Paros (1877); Schema-hieromonk Nazary (Koniukhov) of the Kiev Caves (1975); Other Commemorations: Synaxis of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos Koroniotissa or Dakryrroousis, at Lixouri, Cephalonia (1867); Repose of Eugene Poselyanin (Pogozhev), spiritual writer (1931); Repose of Elder Codratus (Condratus) of Karakalou monastery, Mt. Athos (1940); Repose of Hieroschemamonk Stephen (Ignatenko) of Kislovodsk (1973).