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January 31 Saints of the Day – Cyrus and John the Unmercinaries

Cyrus and John the UnmercinariesOn this day in 1990, the first McDonald’s restaurant in the Soviet Union opened, in Moscow. Less than two years later, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Now we know what brought down the USSR. Special sauce.

Cyrus and John (d. 304 or 311) are called “unmercenaries,” an unusual word meaning “a person who delivers medical care free of charge,” an unusual concept (at least in the United States). Cyrus was a native of Alexandria, born of Christian parents, who studied medicine at the university of Alexandria. I mean Cyrus did, not his parents. We don’t know what they did. Immediately out of the chute he started treating patients without requiring remuneration. He was supported by the Christians of the city, who went so far as to build a clinic for him to use. Although the historical record is silent, we are probably not far amiss in imagining that the chairs in the waiting room were horribly uncomfortable. In the persecutions under Diocletian, Cyrus was targeted for arrest, and fled to the desert near the Persian Gulf. There he became a monk, and added to his skills the ability to perform healing miracles through prayer and making the sign of the cross, a method sadly not taught in the medical school back home.

While there he was joined by John, a former military doctor and friend of the emperor, who whilst on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem found himself at Cyrus’ monastery on the Persian Gulf (clearly he was using the fourth-century equivalent of Apple Maps). At some point the two heard about an Alexandrine woman and her three girls (ages 15, 13, and 11 — and they’re always mentioned in that order, never 11, 13, and 15), who were scheduled to be martyred. They caught the next Greyjackal to the city, intending to encourage the ladies with encouraging words. Predictably, they were caught and tortured (disgustingly, so we won’t go into it), which did encourage the women, who proved brave and true when their turn came.

Finally, what martyr’s story would be complete without the tale of the bones? They were buried in the church of St. Mark in Alexandria, then their relics were moved to Mauphin (near Canopis), then to Rome, and ultimately (go figure) to Munich. G’suffa!


Bibliography
This Day in History for 31st January (History Orb)
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
Cyrus and John (Wikipedia)
Cyrus and John (Orthodox Wiki)
Sts. Cyrus and John (Catholic Encyclopedia)


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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