December 15† Holy Hieromartyr Eleutherius, Bishop of Illyria, and those with him (126)(Martyrs Anthia ((Evanthia, his mother), Coremonus the Eparch (Corybus), and two executioners who suffered with them)1.
His name is a form of the Greek word for “freedom.” He was a native of Rome whose father died at a young age, leaving him to be brought up by his mother Anthia, a Christian who reared him in the fear of God and the love of holiness. His virtue and ability were so evident that he was ordained a priest at the age of seventeen and at twenty was made Bishop of Illyria, a large see roughly comprising modern-day Serbia.
The young bishop’s pastoral and evangelistic work was so successful that many pagans were converted to the Faith through him. His growing reputation drew the attention of the Emperor Hadrian, who sent one of his senior officers named Felix to arrest the holy bishop. But when Felix saw and heard Eleutherius, he was captivated by his teaching, believed in Christ, and was baptized. He and the St Eleutherius returned and presented themselves together before the Emperor, fearlessly confessing their faith.
Eleutherius was subjected to brutal torture, during which the city prefect Coremonus, who had suggested some of the tortures, was enlightened through the Saint’s prayers for his enemies, and proclaimed Christ. He was baptized by Eleutherius and later beheaded. After a time, when it became clear that fire and torture would not move the holy bishop, he was taken to the amphitheater and beheaded. At the moment of his death, his mother Anthia rushed forward and took his body in her arms. There she also was beheaded by the executioners.
Pregnant women call on St Eleutherius that they may have a safe delivery.
Source: Saints for December
Orthodox Saints for December. 2016. Orthodox Saints for December. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abbamoses.com/months/december.html. [Accessed 15 December 2016].
1. December 15 – OrthodoxWiki. 2016. December 15 – OrthodoxWiki. [ONLINE] Available at: https://orthodoxwiki.org/December_15. [Accessed 15 December 2016].
Image unknown, (2016), Agios Eleftherios Hieromartyr Bishop Avlonos [ONLINE]. Available at: http://ellinonfos.gr/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/012.jpg [Accessed 16 December 2016].