Eleutherius of Illyria

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Hieromartyr Eleutherius bishop of Illyria

Our father among the saints, Hieromartyr Eleutherius of Illyria (Greek: Ἐλευθέριος), was an early bishop of the Church who was martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He is remembered with his mother, Martyr Anthia (Evanthia), on December 15.


Eleutherius was born in Rome in the latter years of the first century. His father was in the imperial service of the Roman Emperor, but his mother Anthia was a Christian who accepted Christ through the preaching of the disciples of Saint Paul. Anthia became a widow at an early age. She then sent her son to of Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome for his care. The bishop recognized the special spiritual gifts that the young boy possessed and ordained him a deacon at the age of 15, a priest at 18 and Bishop of Illyricum, in modern Albania, at age 20.

During the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, Eleutherius was soon responsible for winning many converts to Christianity, which caused him to be branded as an "enemy of the state". The commander Felix was sent to arrest the youthful bishop and bring him back to Rome for trial. Instead, the heart of Felix was touched by the words of Eleutherius and he, too, became a Christian.

St. Eleutherius nonetheless returned to Rome, where he was arrested, tortured, and beheaded on December 15 in the year 120 A.D., along with his new convert Felix. His blessed mother Anthia fearlessly came to grieve over the body of her martyred son, and she too suffered the same fate. These executions took place in 120 A.D.


Troparion (Tone 5)

Adorned with the robe of priest
Stained with the streams of your blood,
O wise and blessed Eleutherius, over-thrower of Satan
You hastened to Christ your Master. Pray unceasingly for those who faithfully honor your contest!

Kontakion (Tone 2)

We all praise and entreat you, O Hieromartyr Eleutherius,
Adornment of priests and encouragement of martyrs:
Free from danger those who lovingly celebrate your memory,
And pray unceasingly for us all!

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