St Cyriacus the deacon suffered at Rome along with the hieromartyr Marcellus, Bishop of Rome, the holy deacon Sisinius; also Smaragdus, Largus, Apronian, Saturninus, Crescentian, Papias and Maurus and the holy women martyrs Priscilla, Lucy and the Emperor’s daughter Artemia during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) and their successors, Galerius (305-311) and Maxentius (305-312).
The emperor Maximian, ruler of the Western Roman Empire, deprived all Christians of military rank and sent them into penal servitude.
A certain rich Christian, Thrason, sent food and clothing to the prisoners through the Christians Sisinius, Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Marcellus thanked Thrason for his generosity, and ordained Sisinius and Cyriacus as deacons.
While rendering aid to the captives, Sisinius and Cyriacus also were arrested and condemned to harsh labor. They fulfilled not only their own work quota, but worked also for the dying captive Saturninus. Therefore, Maximian sent Sisinius to Laodicius, the governor of the district.
They locked the saint in prison. The head of the prison, Apronian, summoned Sisinius for interrogation but, seeing his face shine with a heavenly light, he believed in Christ and was baptized. Later, he went with Sisinius to Marcellus and received Chrismation. Marcellus served the Liturgy, and they partook of the Holy Mysteries.
On June 7, Sts Sisinius and Saturninus were brought before Laodicius in the company of Apronian. Apronian confessed that he was a Christian, and was beheaded. Sts Sisinius and Saturninus were thrown into prison. Then Laodicius gave orders to bring them to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. Saturninus said, “If only the Lord would turn the pagan idols into dust!”
At that very moment the tripods, on which incense burned before the idols, melted. Seeing this miracle, the soldiers Papias and Maurus confessed Christ. After prolonged tortures Sisinius and Saturninus were beheaded, and Papias and Maurus were locked up in prison, where they prayed to receive illumination by holy Baptism. The Lord fulfilled their desire. Leaving the prison without being noticed, they received Baptism from Marcellus and returned to the prison.
At the trial they again confessed themselves Christians and died under terrible tortures. Their holy bodies were buried by the priest John and Thrason.
Sts Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus and other Christian prisoners continued to languish at hard labor.
Diocletian’s daughter Artemia suffered from demonic oppression. Having learned that the prisoner Cyriacus could heal infirmities and cast out devils, the emperor summoned him to the sick girl. In gratitude for the healing of his daughter, the emperor freed Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Soon the emperor sent Cyriacus to Persia to heal the daughter of the Persian emperor.
Upon his return to Rome, Cyriacus was arrested on orders of the emperor Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, who had abdicated and retired as emperor. Galerius was very annoyed at his predecessor because his daughter Artemia had converted to Christianity. He gave orders to drag Cyriacus behind his chariot stripped, bloodied, and in chains, to be shamed and ridiculed by the crowds.
Marcellus denounced the emperor openly before everyone for his cruelty toward innocent Christians. The emperor ordered the holy bishop to be beaten with rods, and dealt severely with him. Sts Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus, and another prisoner, Crescentian, died under torture. And at this time the emperor’s daughter Artemia and another twenty-one prisoners were also executed with Cyriacus.
Marcellus was secretly freed by Roman clergy. Exhuming the bodies of the holy martyrs Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus, they reburied them on the estates of two Christian women, Priscilla and Lucy, on the outskirts of Rome, after they had transformed Lucy’s house into a church.
Ascending the throne, Maxentius gave orders to destroy the church and turn it into a stockyard, and he sentenced the holy bishop to herd the cattle. Exhausted by hunger and cold, and wearied by the tortures of the soldiers, Marcellus became ill and died in the year 310.