St Kyriake healing oil
The St Kyriake healing oil is dedicated to the Christian saint, who was martyred under the emperor Diocletian.
Kyriaki was born in Nicomedia to Greek parents Dorotheus and Eusebia. They were devout Christians, wealthy but childless. Unceasing in prayer they obtained a child and since she was born on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, she was given the name Kyriaki, the Greek word for Sunday.
From her childhood, Kyriaki consecrated herself to God. As she was a beautiful young woman, many suitors asked for her hand in marriage. She refused them all saying that she wished to die as a virgin. She had dedicated herself to Jesus Christ. A magistrate of Nicomedia also wished to betroth Kyriaki to his son as she came from a wealthy family. When she once more rejected his proposal, he denounced Kyriaki and her parents as Christians to Emperor Diocletian.
Diocletian ordered the family to be arrested. Upon their refusal to honor the pagan gods, Dorotheus was beaten until the soldiers grew tired and were unable to continue. Since torment had no effect, Diocletian exiled Dorotheus and Eusebia to Melitene. Kyriaki was sent to Nicomedia to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler, Maximian. Maximian promised her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian’s relatives if she worshiped the pagan gods. When Kyriaki refused to renounce her faith, Maximian ordered that she be whipped. The soldiers who assumed the flogging had to be replaced three times as they eventually became tired.
Since Maximian failed to convince the young woman to change her faith, he sent her to Hilarion, in Chalcedon. The object was either to convert Kyriaki to paganism, or send her back to him. Hilarion tried his best to achieve his goal, including promises and threats. When all these proved ineffective, he ordered her torture. Kyriaki was suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches.
She was finally taken down and thrown into a prison cell. During the night, Jesus Christ appeared to her and healed her wounds. Seeing the miraculous salvation of Kyriaki, many pagans converted to Christianity, but they were all beheaded. The next day, Hilarion announced that the gods had healed her of pity and urged her to go to the temple and give thanks to them. When she was brought to the pagan temple, Kyriaki prayed that God would destroy the idols and a sudden earthquake toppled the idols and shattered them to pieces. Hilarion blasphemed God and then he was struck by lightning and died on the spot.
Kyriaki was tortured again by Apollonius, the successor of Hilarion. She was thrown into a fire, but the flames were extinguished. Then she was thrown to wild beasts, but they became tame and gentle. Apollonius then sentenced her to death by the sword. As she was given a little time to pray, she asked God to receive her soul. Also, she prayed for those who honored her martyrdom. Upon completing her prayer, she rendered her soul to God. Pious Christians took her relics and buried them. At the time of her death, she was 21 years old.
Her feast day is celebrated on 7 July by the Eastern Orthodox Church and on 6 July by the Catholic Church.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.