New Martyr John the New of Epirus

The Holy Martyr John Kulikos was born in the Greek district of Epirus, in the city of Ioannina. His parents were pious, but he was orphaned at an early age, and he went to Constantinople. With the means left him by his parents, he built a small stall in the city bazaar and was occupied with trade.

He loved to work, he honorably filled all his orders, and his business was successful. However, his soul did not yearn for earthly blessings, but for the Kingdom of Heaven.

St John lived during difficult times. Constantinople was under the dominion of the Turks, and Christians were subjected to oppressions. Many Christian tradesmen and merchants went over to the Moslem religion. St John reproached them for their betrayal of Christ, and he also sustained the unwavering in their faith. The apostates were filled with hatred for St John, and they desired his ruin. The saint knew this, but was not afraid. He was willing to suffer for Christ.

On Great and Holy Friday he went to his spiritual Father and asked his blessing to seek martyrdom. The priest counselled the youth to examine himself and to prepare himself by fasting and prayer, so that at the time of torture he would not deny Christ. St John prayed ardently to the Lord to strengthen him. At night on Great and Holy Saturday he saw himself in a dream, standing in a fiery furnace and singing praises to the Lord. Interpreting this vision as an indication to go to martyrdom, St John received the Holy Mysteries and asked the priest’s blessing.

When St John arrived at the market, the vexed tradesmen began to reproach him that he had promised to renounced Christ, but that he was not fulfilling his word. In reply, the martyr declared that he was a Christian and had never renounced, nor would he ever renounce Christ.

Then the envious merchants had him arrested. The judge tried to persuade St John to accept Islam, for he respected him as a skilled master craftsman. But the martyr steadfastly confessed himself a Christian. For several days, they wearied him with hunger and thirst, and beat him without mercy. They sentenced the martyr to be burned alive.

St John met his sentence with joy. When they led him to the blazing fire, he went boldly into the midst of the flames. The torturers, seeing that St John was prepared to die in the fire, pulled him out and beheaded him with the sword (+ 1526). They then threw the martyr’s head and body into the fire.

Christians gathered up the bones of the martyr which remained from the fire, and reverently brought them to the cathedral church.