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    Cyricus and Julitta
    Cyricus (Greek: Κήρυκος, Amharic: ቂርቆስ, Aramaic: ܡܪܝ ܩܘܪܝܩܘܣ ܣܗܕܐ Mar Quriaqos Sahada; also Cyriacus, Quiriac, Quiricus, Cyr), and his mother, Julitta (Greek: Ἰουλίττα, Amharic: እየሉጣ Aramaic: ܝܘܠܝܛܐ, Yulitha; also Julietta) are venerated as early Christian martyrs. According to tradition, they were put to death at Tarsus in AD 304.

    Some evidence exists for an otherwise unknown child-martyr named Cyricus at Antioch.[1] It is believed that the legends about Saints Cyricus and Julitta refer to him. There are places named after Cyricus in Europe and the Middle East, but without the name Julitta attached. Cyricus is the Saint-Cyr found in many French toponyms, as well as in several named San Quirico in Italy. The cult of these saints was strong in France after Saint Amator, Bishop of Auxerre, brought relics back from Antioch in the 4th century. It is said that Constantine I discovered their relics originally and built a monastery near Constantinople, and a church not far off from Jerusalem. In the 6th century the Acts of Cyricus and Julitta were rejected in a list of apocryphal documents by the Decretum Gelasianum, called as such since the list was erroneously attributed to Pope Saint Gelasius I.

    Sculpture of St. Cyricus as a bald toddler standing in a small tub and holding a palm branch
    Francesco Laurana, “St. Cyricus,” Getty Center, Los Angeles
    According to one version of their martyrdom, Julitta and her three-year-old son Cyricus had fled to Tarsus and were identified as Christians.[2] Julitta was tortured and Cyricus, being held by the governor of Tarsus, scratched the governor’s face and was killed by being thrown down some stairs. Julitta did not weep but celebrated the fact that her son had earned the crown of martyrdom. In anger, the governor then decreed that Julitta’s sides should be ripped apart with hooks, and then she was beheaded. Her body, along with that of Cyricus, was flung outside the city, on the heap of bodies belonging to criminals, but two maids rescued the corpses of the mother and child and buried them in a nearby field. This version is recorded in a letter from Theodore of Mopsuestia to Pope Zosimus[3] and in the Acta Graece Sincera.[4]

    An alternative version of the story is found in Latin, Syriac, and Arabic.[5] In this version, Julitta was captured without Cyricus and brought before the governor. She refused to sacrifice to idols and tells him to find a child, so that they can ask him if he thinks it is right to worship one god or many. Cyricus was found and he declared himself to be a Christian. The governor inflicted many tortures on them, all of which they miraculously survive. Satan entered Julitta’s heart, causing her to be afraid of death, but Cyricus emboldens her with encouragement and prayers. The mother and child are finally decapitated.

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