Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Cyril of Thessaloniki, who was born in 1544 AD, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. His father’s name was Peios, he came from the province of Pelagonia in Asia Minor and lived with his family in the area of the citadel of Thessaloniki.
At the age of ten, Kyriakos, as Cyril was called, became an orphaned, and his two uncles, relatives of his mother, one of whom was a Muslim, took care of him. Eventually, his Muslim uncle took sole custody of him and sent him to the tannery of another Muslim, to learn from him the trade of tanning animal hides.
However, Kyriakos, following the advice of his other uncle, who was a devout Christian, decided to secretly abandon his Muslim guardian and to follow some Athonite monks, who were in Thessaloniki at the time. At the age of 14 he reached Mount Athos and was tonsured a monk in the Hilandari monastery, taking the name Cyril. Because he was young and could not stay in the monastery, he practiced asceticism for eight years in a metochion of the monastery and at the age of 22 he traveled with two other monks to Thessaloniki, where he met his Christian uncle. Descending from the area of the Acropolis to the port of Thessaloniki, together with his cousin, son of his Christian uncle, he met by chance his Muslim guardian, who, despite many years had passed, recognized Cyril. He immediately called other Muslims to arrest Cyril on the charge that, while he had previously embraced the Qur’an, he later renounced Islam.
Cyril was immediately taken to the Turkish judge in Thessaloniki, who tried to change his mind. When he found out that his attempt had no effect, he ordered that he would be taken to prison, intending to make his decision the following day.
The following day the Saint was again taken to the judge, who tried for the second time to persuade him with promises and threats, but when he realized that his effort was in vain, he sentenced him to death by fire. Saint Cyril was led by the enraged crowd and his executioners to the place of his conviction, in the old Byzantine Hippodrome of the city, near the church of Saints Constantine and Helen.
When the Turkish governor tried for the last time to persuade him, offering him material comforts, Cyril denied them, saying that the only wealth for him was the God-man Jesus Christ. Following this, the governor ordered the executioners to throw Cyril into the fire, which incinerated his body on July 6, 1566 AD.
Today, the church of Saints Constantine and Helen at the Hippodrome in Byzantine Thessaloniki, where fragments of the holy relic of St. Cyril are kept, is celebrating.
Source: Church of Cyprus