Eleutherios of Illyria

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Our father among the saints, Hieromartyr Eleutherios, was an early bishop of the Church who was martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Life

Eleutherios was born in Rome in the latter years of the first century. His father was in the imperial service of the Roman Emperor, but his mother Anthia was a Christian. Anthia became a widow at an early age. She then sent her son to of Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome for his care. The bishop recognized the special spiritual gifts that the young boy possessed and ordained him a deacon at the age of 15, a priest at 18 and Bishop of Illyricum at 20.

During the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, Eleutherios was soon responsible for winning many converts to Christianity, which caused him to be branded as an "enemy of the state". The commander Felix was sent to arrest the youthful bishop and bring him back to Rome for trial. Instead, the heart of Felix was touched by the words of Eleutherios and he, too, became a Christian.

The Eleutherios nonetheless returned to Rome, where he was arrested, tortured, and beheaded on December 15 in the year 120 A.D., along with his new convert Felix. His blessed mother Anthia fearlessly came to grieve over the body of her martyred son, and she too suffered the same fate. These executions took place in 120 A.D.

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