Eleutherius of Illyria

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Hieromartyr Eleutherios

Eleutherios was born in Rome in the latter years of the 1st century. His father was in the imperial service of the Emperor, but his mother Anthia was a Christian. Anthia became a widow at an early age, she then sent her son to of Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome for his care, who recognized the special spiritual gifts that the young boy had possessed. He ordained him a deacon at the age of 15, a priest at 18 and Bishop of Illyricum at 20.

Eleutherios was soon largely responsible for winning many converts to Christianity, which caused him to be branded as an "enemy of the state" during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. 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 Eleutherios and he, too, became a Christian.

The Eleutherios nonetheless returned to Rome, where he was tortured and beheaded December 15 around the year 126 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 terrible executions took place in 120 A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.