Celebration date: 15/12/2021
Saint Eleftherios was born in the 2nd century AD in Greece (according to others in Rome) to wealthy parents. Then emperor was Commodus and Septinus Severus. Orphaned by his father, he was brought up according to the dictates of the Gospel by his pious and philanthropic mother, Anthia (son of Evanthia, verse of Vesperinos) (see same day) who became a Christian by listening to the sermon by disciples of St. Paul.
Anthia’s burning desire was to visit Rome, whose soil had been stained with the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Once, therefore, he decided and went. She also took her young son Eleftherio with her. The bishop of Rome Aniketus (see April 17), when he saw Eleftherios, appreciating his great intelligence, his fervent faith and his pure morals, took him under his protection.
At the age of 15, he was ordained a deacon by the bishop of Rome, Aniketus, and after three years he was ordained a priest. From this position Eleftherios fought with zeal for the teaching of his flock, and in works of charity. Later and at the age of twenty, by a joint vote of the clergy and the people, he became bishop of Illyricum, today’s Albania, based in Avlona.
But was he ordained so young? Saint Nicodemus the Saint gives an answer to the question…. He writes in a footnote of his Synaxaristos: “Let no one be surprised that this saint was ordained at an age contrary to the holy rules of the 6th House Synod and the local Synod of Neocaesarea, the which stipulate that the deacon is ordained at the age of 25, the elder at 30 and the bishop over 30. This was done because Saint Eleftherios lived before the above rules were made, which were made later.”
The ordination of Saint Eleftherios, as one of his biographers writes, took place “according to the economy” of God, due to his great virtues and wisdom with which he attracted the pagans to Christ. The sweetness of his speech, confirmed by his many miracles, made those who were in error embrace the Christian truth.
The fame of the virtue of Saint Eleftherios was so great that it reached Britain. Thus, its king, Lucius, wrote a letter to Eleftherios and declared that he and his people wished to become Christians. Eleftherius immediately responded, sending two men trained in the faith, who catechized and baptized Lucius and his people as Christians.
When Septimius Severus was informed of the Christian activity of Eleftherios, he ordered his arrest. After many tortures Eleftherius was led by the pagans to the arena of Rome. But the wild animals did not touch him, that is why he was beheaded together with his mother.
Thus Saint Eleftherios passed “into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans, n. 21). That is, in the freedom of the glorious state of God’s children.
His Synaxis is held at his martyrdom, near Xirolofos.
Saint Eleftherios is considered the helper of pregnant women. He gives them “good liberty.” Many women invoke his help and touch the icon of the saint on them. This perception also refers to a similar verse of the holiday. “Of the usurious women, Father, you give freely, you attend to your temple…”, that is, you take care, Father, of the pregnant women who take refuge in your temple, giving him freedom.