Saint Hieron came from Tyana in Cappadocia. He lived simply, peacefully tilling his fields, during the persecution of the Christians by Diocletian and Maximian. About the year
290, the tyrants were calling up, in their thirst for conquest, all able-bodied men for military service. As Hieron was a byword in Cappadocia for strength and courage, he was wanted for the army, and the Governor Lysias sent two soldiers to seize him while he
was working in the fields.
Hieron knew what they intended as soon as he saw them, and he knew that conscription would involve not only the hazards of military life but also the obligation to sacrifice to the Emperor as to a god, and the denial of his faith in Christ. He rushed on the soldiers and drove them off badly bruised with the wooden shaft of his spade; but after a while they came back with reinforcements, and found him hiding in a cave with his friends and relatives.
His brother Cyriacus begged Hieron to surrender to the soldiers in order to avoid bloodshed, and so he did. That night an angel appeared to the Saint, assuring him he was on his way, not to war for an earthly kingdom, but to the last, glorious battle that would open for him the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. Next morning, full of joy at this revelation, Hieron told the relatives arrested with him of the mystery prepared by God’s
Providence, and that for him, the path of captivity would merge with the path that led to Paradise.
He was taken to appear before the Governor at Melitene and imprisoned there with thirty-three other Christians. He spent his time confirming them in the faith and encouraging them to offer their lives as a sacrifice of praise to God. ‘I’he Governor accused him of pride in resisting the Emperor’s commands and in despising the idols.
When he learnt that Hieron had put the soldiers to flight with scarcely more than a stick, far from commending his courage, he ordered him to be tortured and to lose his hand. Hieron bore these torments with joy and was thrown back into prison
to await further interrogation. One of Hieron’s fellow-prisoners was his kinsman Victor. Fearful of the torments that awaited them all, Victor made a secret agreement with the jailerr, promising him his field in exchange for his escape.
When Hieron, the soldier of Christ, heard of his flight, he wept for his companion who, forfeiting eternal life and the endless bliss of the elect, had condemned himself to the
flames of hell for the sake of the world that passes away.
Those of Hieron’s relatives who were still at liberty, came at his bidding and were attentive to his final wishes. He enjoined them to send the relic of his hand to his poor, blind mother as a consolation in her distress; and he asked his sister Theotima to have the memory of his martyrdom observed each year.
On the fourth day, he and his companions were again brought before Lysias. He had
them beaten with rods, but to no avail, and then ordered that they be beheaded. As they walked toward the place of their final contest, the Martyrs sang the long Psalm of faithful servants of God:
Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way and walk in the
law of the Lord (ps. 118).
Some time afterwards, the Saint’s relatives asked to bury his relics. The covetous Governor seized his opportunity of demanding their weight in gold; and he permitted a church to be built in honour of the Saint at the place of his martyrdom.
The names of most of his Companions are given in some Synaxaria and in the stichera
of Vespers: Nicander, Hesychius, Athanasius, Mamas, Barachius, Callinicus, Theogenes,
Nikon, Longinus, Theodore, Valerius, Xanthius, Theodotus, Callimachus, Eugene,
Theodulus, Ostrychius, Epiphanius, Maximian, Ducitius, Claudian, Theophilus, Gigantius,
Dorotheus, Theodotus, Castricius, Anicletus, Eutychus.
The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox ·Church
By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
Ormylia (Chalkidike) 1998