Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus, Martyrs

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Cyriacus, parish church of Saint Pelagius, Weitnau, Germany; date unknown, artist unknown; photographed on September 2007 by Andreas Praefcke; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Maximian, a bitter enemy of the Christians, was chosen in 286, by the emperor Dioclesian, as his colleague in the empire. To show his gratitude, the new Caesar had a magnificent palace built, to serve the emperor as a summer-residence; and he employed Christians, reduced to slavery, to labor at the building. An immense number of persons, young and old, rich and poor, the nobility and the commoners, were condemned to this work. They were given as little rest as the Israelites in Egypt had; they had constantly to roll stones, carry lime and sand, and were frequently beaten unmercifully as though they had been beasts of burden. Their only nourishment was bread and water, and of this, but little. Thrason, a Roman Patrician, who was secretly a Christian, was moved with compassion on seeing their sad condition, and endeavored to help the oppressed people as much as possible. To this end, he had recourse to his faithful friends who were also Christians, Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus. Through them he distributed alms and, sometimes, better nourishment among the ill-used followers of Christ. These three zealous Christians, the first of whom had been ordained deacon by the Pope, discharged this work of Christian charity fearlessly and with joy. As soon, however, as the heathen overseer detected them, they had to join the other Christians and perform the like labor. They rejoiced to be thought worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake, and did their work with great diligence for love of God: they even tried to assist others, especially a venerable old man, named Saturnine, who could not finish his task by the appointed time. This thoughtful kindness, under the existing circumstances, touched all who beheld it, except Maximian, who, when he heard of it, became so enraged, that he immediately gave orders to put them all three in chains and cast them into a dark dungeon. God, however, made His servants only the more famous; for during their imprisonment, they restored sight to several blind persons, and cured others that were suffering from different maladies, by making the sign of the cross over them and pronouncing the holy name of Jesus. The fame of these miracles, reached the court of the emperor Dioclesian, just at the time when Artemia, his daughter, was possessed by the Evil Spirit. The emperor saw for himself how dreadfully she was tormented by Satan, and heard from her own lips that only Cyriacus, a Christian deacon, could release her. Though much embittered against the Christians, he was moved by his daughter’s sufferings to suppress his hatred; and had Cyriacus and his companions brought before him and requested him to free Artemia from the Evil One. The holy deacon said a short prayer and commanded Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave the princess immediately. Satan replied: “I must obey, because I cannot oppose the omnipotence of Jesus Christ; but I shall go from here to the court of Persia.” At that moment, Artemia was freed, and casting herself at the feet of Saint Cyriacus, she gave him fervent thanks and declared before all that she would become a Christian.

Soon after, an ambassador came from the king of Persia, requesting Dioclesian to send the Christian deacon Cyriacus to him, as his daughter, Jobia, was possessed by the Evil One, and was incessantly crying, that only the deacon Cyriacus of Rome could release her. Cyriacus was accordingly sent with his companions to Persia, where, after he had released the princess, the king, his daughter and many other persons were induced to embrace Christianity. Cyriacus then returned to Rome and was not disturbed by Dioclesian; but no sooner had the emperor left Rome’ to visit some other part of his dominions, than Maximian took the three holy friends prisoners, and had them beheaded, for their fidelity to Christ. They suffered in the year 303.

Saint Cyriacus endured a terrible martyrdom before he was executed. As he did not cease preaching the Gospel, and deriding the idols, the prefect ordered boiling tar to be poured upon his head. Notwithstanding this, the holy martyr continued’ to proclaim the truth and praised Christ till the sword ended his life.

Practical Considerations

• The three holy martyrs deligently performed the hard work which was unjustly put upon them. Love for Christ caused them to be condemned to this labor, and love for Christ gave them the courage to bear it so nobly. They even endeavored to lighten the burden of another, whose strength was not sufficient for his work. Surely a magnanimous example of love for God and man! You are perhaps so situated, that you have to perform much and hard work. Reflect that God has placed you thus that you may be able to obtain His grace, by faithfully attending to whatever you have to do. Frequently renew, during the day, the good intentions you made in the morning at your prayers, and think or say often: “Lord, for love of Thee!” Guard yourself against impatience, complaints and murmurs, as well against God as your superiors. Do every thing for love of God, and for His honor, and your work will help to your salvation and glorify you in heaven. If you are able to assist your neighbor in his work, neglect not to do it; it is a noble deed of charity, which greatly pleases God and from which you may derive great benefit.

• Saint Cyriacus praised God during his greatest torments, and did not cease till he was executed. Saint Albert, also, in his last sickness glorified the Almighty. To praise God in happiness, in bright and sunny days, is no great virtue; but to glorify Him in dark hours, in pains, persecutions and adversity, is meritorious. Neither is it a proof of great virtue to praise God for a short time and then leave off; but to bless Him constantly, in sorrow and rejoicing, in poverty or in plenty, and not to cease praising Him while life lasts; this is what brings men to that abode where His glories resound forever and ever. Thus, in ancient times, Tobias, Job and David acted. Tobias praised God in his blindness; Job praised him in sickness and adversity; David did the same through many sad events of his life, and in times of bitter persecutions. Cyriacus and the other holy martyrs all acted thus; so did the holy confessors, virgins and other saints in every station of life. Thus do you also act, and say with the King David: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be for ever in my mouth.” (Psalm 33)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saints Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus, Martyrs”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 25 March 2018. Web. 25 November 2020. <>