Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Quiricus or Cyr, and Julitta, Martyrs

Saint Cyriacus of IconiumArticle

A.D. 304. Domitian, the governor of Lycaonia, executing with great cruelty the edicts of Dioclesian against the Christians, Julitta, a lady of Iconium in that country, withdrew to Seleucia with her little son Cyr or Quiricus, only three years old, and two maids. Alexander, the governor of Seleucia, was not less a persecutor than the prefect of Iconium. Wherefore Julitta went on to Tarsus in Cilicia. Alexander happened to enter that city about the same time with her, and she was immediately apprehended holding her infant in her arms, and conducted to the tribunal of this governor. She was of royal blood, the granddaughter of illustrious kings, and she possessed great estates and riches; out of all which she carried nothing with her but present necessaries. Her two maids, seeing her in the hands of the persecutors, fled and hid themselves. Alexander demanded her name, quality, and country; to all which questions she answered only—“I am a Christian.” The judge, enraged, ordered her child to be taken from her, and that she should be extended and cruelly whipt with thongs; which was accordingly executed. Nothing could be more amiable than the little Cyr, a certain air of dignity spoke his illustrious birth; and this, joined to the sweetness and innocence of his tender age and looks, moved all present exceedingly. It was a difficult thing to tear him from the arms of his mother; and he continued still continually to stretch his little hands towards her. The governor held the infant on his knees, and endeavoured to kiss him to pacify him. But the innocent babe having his eyes still fixed upon his mother, and striving to get back to her, scratched the face of the inhuman judge. And when the mother, under her torments, cried out that she was a Christian, he repeated as loud as he was able—“I am a Christian.” The governor being enraged, took him by the foot, and throwing him to the ground from off his tribunal, dashed out his brains against the edge of the steps, and all the place round about was sprinkled with blood. Julitta seeing him thus expire, rejoiced at his happy martyrdom, and gave thanks to God. Her joy increased the rage of the governor, who commanded her sides to be torn with hooks, and scalding pitch to be poured on her feet, while proclamation was made by a crier—“Julitta, take pity on thyself and sacrifice to the gods, lest thou come to the like unfortunate end with thy son.” She always answered “I do not sacrifice to devils or to dumb and deaf statues; but I worship Christ, the only begotten Son of God. by whom the Father hath made all things.” Whereupon the governor commanded her head to be struck off, and the body of the child to be carried out of the city, and thrown where the carcasses of malefactors were usually cast. Remorse and confusion at his own cruelty, and disappointed malice, in the murder of the innocent babe, made him appear more raging than the most furious wild beast. Julitta being led to the place of execution, prayed aloud, thanking God for having given her son a place in his kingdom, and begging the same mercy for herself. She concluded by adding Amen: at which word her head was severed from her body. She suffered in the year 304 or 305. The two maids came privately and buried the remains of both the martyrs in a field near the city. When Constantine had given peace to the church, one of these maids discovered the place, and “the faithful of the country strove every one to procure some portion of these sacred pledges for a protection and safeguard, glorified God, and devoutly visited their tombs,” says the author of these acts. They are named in the Roman Martyrology on the 16th of June; but they seem to have received their crowns on the 15th of July, on which day their festival is kept by the Greeks, Muscovites, Armenians, and Nestorians. The Abyssinians celebrate it two days before, on the 19th of their month of Hamle, also on the 20th of January. Saint Cyr is patron of Nevers, and of many churches and monasteries in France, and formerly in England. The relics of Saint Cyr having been brought from Antioch by Saint Amator, bishop of Auxerre, were distributed in several places at Nevers, Toulouse, Saint Amand’s in Flanders, etc.

This happy victim completed early his sacrifice. Men ought properly to be said to live only for that time which they devote to the end for which they receive their being, the service of their creator. How many will a long life condemn! How much of their precious time do many throw away in sloth, empty follies, and even in sin! How many go off the stage of this world without having done anything of all those great duties for which they were born! who have lived so as to have been mere blanks in the creation, if the divine justice would allow us to give that name to what he punishes with everlasting torments! We have a great work upon our hands to form our hearts upon that of our divine original, our Blessed Redeemer: to expel the subtle poison of pride, vanity, and all inordinate self-love out of our affections, and put on the perfect heavenly spirit of meekness, patience, humility, charity, holy zeal, and devotion. Without this we can never belong to Christ, or to the company of the saints.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Quiricus or Cyr, and Julitta, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 15 June 2013. Web. 16 April 2014. <>