St Kyranna of Thessaloniki

Memory celebrated 28th February

The darkest chapter in Greek history was the 400 years of oppression under muslim Turkish rule. Even so this period had a brighter side in that it provided a proving ground for Christianity out of which emerged heroes and heroines, some of whom have been Sainted. One of these was a girl name Kyranna of Thessaloniki, a city which was under complete domination of Turkey when Kyranna was born in 1731.

A practice of the conquerors was to seize a boy from his Christian family and take him with others to a spiritual and military training area where they would be brainwashed and raised as muslims. The youngsters grew up to be known as Janissaries, as pitiless and cruel as their teachers, all sworn to die for allah in what they considered a holy cause. An encounter with one of the Janissaries was to prove the undoing of Kyranna and lead to her ultimate sacrifice for Jesus Christ.

Reared in a devout Christian family of Thessaloniki, Kyranna attained womanhood with a reputation for piety which was belied by her extreme beauty. It did not seem to the casual onlooker that a woman of such breathtaking beauty could be such a devout church-goer, more concerned for how she looked to God than how she appeared to those about her. Her hand was sought by a good number of young Greek males, but she was also the choice of a young Janissary who made his intentions known after meeting her while carrying out his duties as a tax collector.

The youthful tax collector had the appealing good looks and bearing of his Greek ancestry, but Kyranna rejected the suitor with the flat statement that she would never love a muslim, let alone marry one! Thus denied, the spurned lover vowed she would be his or no one else's and in a jealous rage brought false charges against Kyranna, who was promptly hauled before the magistrate in a mockery of what passed for justice in those days.

St Kyranna was accused of having accepted a proposal of marriage, together with a promise to become a muslim convert, and then having withdrawn her solemn vow. The denial of these false charges was of no avail, and the presiding official condemned her to prison, there to reflect on her affront and perhaps change her mind. A week of horror in a squalid jail could not force St Kyranna to change her mind, and she was then subjected to tortures too inhuman to describe. The young man visited her in jail to find her hanging on the torture rack and observed a heavenly light shining on her bruised and battered body. She fell asleep in the Lord on February 28th 1751 AD at the age of 20, and the site of her burial place has since been the scene of many miracles.

from Orthodox Saints, v. 1
by Fr George Poulos, Holy Cross Orthodox Press

Return to homepage (framed) | Return to homepage (no frames) | Return to home page