Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of temptation on the deathbed; viticulture
Saint-Cierges, Switzerland; eye disease
Saint Cyriacus, or Saint Cyriac, is a Christian Martyr who was killed in the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
The legend tells that he was born of a noble patrician family. He embraced the Christian religion and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus. Diocletian was emperor at that time, assisted by Maximian. The latter decided to build a beautiful palace for the emperor, the Baths of Diocletian, and to make the Christians work as slaves at the construction. Several thousand of Christian were helping build the new great Baths.
A Roman nobleman desired to relieve the sufferings of these slaves and sent them Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus with alms and encouragements who accepted at the risk of their lives. Cyriacus was said to be both deacon and confessor, while Largus and Smaragdus were just confessors.At that time in Church history, deacons were a rung below bishops but apparently weren't required to be priests before that.There were always supposed to be seven Deacons in Rome and one amongst them was to be chosen as the next Bishop of Rome.
Cyriacus was well known to Diocletian. The emperor’s daughter Artemia became possessed by a demon, and the demon who possessed her body revealed that only Cyriacus could deliver her. Diocletian sent for him, and the deacon delivered his daughter. She became a Christian like her mother, who is today Saint Serena. A short time later Jobias, the daughter of the king of Persia, also became possessed and Diocletian sent Cyriacus to her. He cast out the demon, thus bringing about the conversion of the king, his family and four hundred persons, whom he baptized. When Cyriacus returned to Rome, the Baths were finished, the Christian slaves on hand were all killed in one fell swoop. The legend indicates that Maximian seized Cyriacus for torture, including pouring hot pitch over his body before finally beheading him on the Via Ostiense on 8 August 304. With him were martyred his companions Largus and Smaragdus, and twenty others.
Today the body of Saint Cyriacus is buried in Santa Maria in Via Lata, in Rome. The church also possesses the bodies of SS. Largus, Smaragdus and companions and many other precious relics.