On this day in 1979, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to set foot on Irish soil. “Our last Guinness shipment was short several kegs,” he said, “so I’m here to see to it myself.”
Cyriacus the Hermit (448 – 557) was born in Corinth to a priestly family, and made reader as a child by the bishop. One day upon hearing the Gospel, “Take up your cross and follow me,” he left the church, walked directly to the harbor, and got on a boat sailing to Jerusalem. After a quick “See the Sights of the Holy Land” tour, he went to the lavra (or “skete” for those unfamiliar with Orthodox terminology) of St. Euthymius, then to the monastery of St. Theoctistus, where he was monkified by St. Gerasimus. (This will all be on the test.) He was diligent and faithful and ascetic, saying all the prayers right on time, sleeping little, and only eating every other day.
When Gerasimus died, Cyriacus returned to the lavra, but Euthymius had also died, so Cyriacus asked for an anchorage. Hermit’s cell. There he lived anchoratically, speaking only to the monk Thomas, at least until Thomas was fingered for Bishop of Alexandria. Cyriacus then spend ten years in total silence, after which he was diaconified. Later he went to the monastery of St. Chariton, starting over as a novice (as per their typikon), but soon (given his lifespan) he was made priest and canonarch (head of artillery) (kidding; head of cantors). At 70 he retired to the wilderness with his disciple John to live on bitter veg (Brussels sprouts?) which Cyriacus made edible by his prayers (yeah, definitely Brussels sprouts).
This didn’t last long, as he was called back to help cut off the heresy of Origenism. One night the Theotokos appeared outside his cell to encourage him to fight, team, fight! After her departure he predicted the deaths of the Origenist (as opposed to “original”) monks Nonnus and Leontius, and once they were dead, the movement petered out. Cyriacus then headed back to the desert, where he was hounded by sick people seeking the miraculous healing he was able to provide. As we have established, miraculous healing is a poor career choice if you want to be left alone, but a noble calling all the same. He was protected from robbers by a huge lion (which nevertheless left the pilgrims alone) that ate from his hand (left hand or right? the sources are silent). Finally he died, at the ripe and venerable age of — well, you have the numbers. Do the math.
Dadas, Gabdelas, & Casdoe (d. 368) were, respectively, Persian emperor Shapur II’s chief steward, son, and daughter. Shapur appointed Dadas governor of somewhere, but when he discovered what Dadas’ religion was (Christianity) (but you knew that), he stripped him of his title, and handed him over to his dungeonmaster, Andromelik. Dadas was sentence to be burned at the stake, but he made his saving roll, and his prayers extinguished the flames. Gabdelas, stunned by this miracle, unstunned long enough to proclaim his new-found faith in Christ, which earned him (once Dad found out) repeated floggings and imprisonments. Each time he was miraculously healed, which so impressed his fellow prisoners that many converted.
Casdoe visited her brother in prison, bringing him water and encouragement. She was present one day when he was hung on a cross and shot with arrows, which bounced off his body and struck the archers (they were +5 arrows of boomerangity). Seeing this, she marveled, and seeing that, Gabdelas convinced her to confess Christ, so she was beaten and thrown into prison too. That night Gabdelas was miraculously baptized by oil and water falling on him from no visible source (complete with heavenly Voice). The next day he was cut into three pieces, which were buried with Dadas (who had already been drawn and thirded himself). Gabdelas then appeared in a dream to the local priest, sending him to baptize his sister. She received baptism then died peacefully, spared from further torture. The three martyrs are celebrated on both calendars today.
Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
September 29 (Wikipedia)
Venerable Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine (OCA) – Main source
Cyriacus the Anchorite (Wikipedia)
Icon of Cyriacus from Wikimedia (public domain)
Martyr Dada of Persia (OCA) – Main source
Saint Dadas of Persia (SQPN)
Shapur II (Wikipedia)
Image of Duck from public-domain-image.com (public domain)