The holy martyr Hieron was born in the city of Tiana in great Cappadocia. Raised by a pious mother, he was a kindly and good Christian.
The co-ruling emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305) sent a large military detachment headed by Lysias to Cappadocia to eradicate Christianity there, and also to conscript healthy and strong men into the imperial army. Among those pressed into service, Lysias also ordered his men to draft Hieron, who was distinguished by his great physical strength and dexterity.
But Hieron refused to serve emperors who persecuted Christians. When they attempted to seize him by force and bring him to Lysias, he took a stick and started beating the soldiers who had been sent to bring him. The soldiers scattered, ashamed of being defeated by a single man. Hieron then hid himself in a cave with eighteen other Christians. Lysias would not risk losing his soldiers by storming the cave.
Upon the advice of Cyriacus, one of Hieron’s friends, Lysias lifted the siege of the cave and withdrew his detachment. Then Cyriacus persuaded Hieron not to offer resistance to the authorities. He and the other new conscripts and accompanying soldiers were sent to the nearby city of Melitene.
Soon Hieron had a vision in his sleep, in which his impending martyrdom was foretold. Lysias told the soldiers gathered at Melitene to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Hieron and another thirty-two soldiers refused to do this, and openly confessed their faith in Christ. Then the persecutor gave orders to beat the martyrs, and to cut off Hieron’s arm at the elbow. After cruel tortures they threw the martyrs into prison barely alive, and they beheaded them four days later.
A certain rich and illustrious Christian by the name of Chrysanthus ransomed Hieron’s head from Lysias. When the persecutions finally ceased, he built a church on the place where they executed the holy martyrs, and he placed the venerable head in it. The bodies of all the executed saints were secretly buried by Christians. In reign of the emperor Justinian, during the construction of the church of Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace), the venerable relics were uncovered and found incorrupt.
The other martyrs are: Hesychius, Nicander, Athanasius, Mamas, Barachius, Callinicus, Theogenes, Nikon, Longinus, Theodore, Valerius, Xanthius, Theodoulus, Callimachus, Eugene, Theodochus, Ostrychius, Epiphanius, Maximian, Ducitius, Claudian, Theophilus, Gigantius, Dorotheus, Theodotus, Castrichius, Anicletus, Themelius, Eutychius, Hilarion, Diodotus and Amonitus.
These holy Martyrs confessed during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian in the year 290. Of them, Saint Hieron was from Tyana in Cappadocia, a husbandman, of great bodily strength and high nobility of soul. As he was at work digging in his field, certain soldiers came to impress him into military service.
He, however, not wishing to keep company with the impious, refused, and with his wooden tool alone drove away the armed soldiers, who fled in fear because of his strength. Later, however, he went of his own free will, and confessed Christ before the governor. His right hand was cut off, and he was imprisoned with thirty-two others, whom he strengthened in the Faith of Christ. Together they were all beheaded outside the city of Melitene in Armenia.
Hieron was born in Tyana in Cappadocia of a good and devout mother, Stratonika, who was blind. Hieron was a very zealous Christian and served his blind mother with great filial love. For two reasons he did not wish to join the army, and he resisted and drove off those who had been sent to take him.
Hieron was loath to leave his helpless mother, and it was grievous for him even to consider that, as a soldier, he would be compelled to offer sacrifices to idols. Finally, Hieron was arrested along with other Christians, and they were all taken before the eparch of the town of Melitene. While they were still on the road, a man clad in a brilliant white garment appeared to Hieron one night and said:
“Behold, Hieron, I proclaim salvation to you: you shall not wage war for an earthly king, but for the Heavenly King you will complete your struggle, and you shall soon come to Him to receive honor and glory.” At this, Hieron’s heart was filled with inexpressible joy.
In Melitene they were all thrown into prison and Hieron, with great zeal, strengthened all the prisoners in the Faith, urging that not even one of them fall away, but that all willingly offer their bodies to torture and death for Christ. All but one confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The exception was Hieron’s kinsman Victor, who fell away from the Faith. The tormentors cut one of Hieron’s hands off, then flogged and tortured him in various ways until they beheaded him and the others. Going to the place of execution, these thirty-three martyrs chanted the Psalm:
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord (Psalms 118:1). Here we will name the honorable martyrs whose names are written with his in the Book of Life: Hesychius, Nicander, Athanasius, Mamas, Barachius, Callinicus, Theogenes, Nikon, Longinus, Theodore, Valerius, Xanthius, Theodulus, Callimachus, Eugenius, Theodochus, Ostrichius, Epiphanius, Maximian, Ducitius, Claudian, Theophilus, Gigantius, Dorotheus, Theodotus, Castrichius, Anicletus, Themilius, Eutychius, Hilarion, Diodotus and Amonitus.
A man named Chrysanthus purchased Hieron’s severed head and honorably buried it, later building a church over it in the saint’s name. The martyr’s severed hand was brought to his blind mother. St. Hieron, with his companions, suffered in the year 298 A.D. and entered the glory of Christ.