From a good tree comes good fruit. This wonderful saint had noble and greatly eminent parents. Eleutherius was born in Rome, where his father was an imperial proconsul. His mother Anthia heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul and was baptized by him. Having been left a widow early, she entrusted her only son for study and service to Anicetus the Bishop of Rome. Seeing how Eleutherius was gifted by God and illumined by the grace of God, the bishop ordained him a deacon at the age of fifteen, a priest at the age of eighteen, and a bishop at the age of twenty. Eleutherius’s God-given wisdom made up for what he lacked in years, and this chosen one of God was appointed Bishop of Illyria with his seat in Valona (Avlona), Albania. The good shepherd guarded his flock well and increased their number day by day. Emperor Hadrian, a persecutor of Christians, sent the commander Felix with soldiers to seize Eleutherius and bring him to Rome. When the raging Felix arrived in Valona and entered the church, he saw and heard the holy hierarch of God; suddenly his heart changed, and he became a Christian. Eleutherius baptized Felix and departed for Rome with him, returning joyfully as if he were going to a feast and not to trial and torture. The emperor subjected the noble Eleutherius to harsh torture: flogging, roasting on an iron bed, boiling in pitch, and burning in a fiery furnace. But Eleutherius was delivered from all these deadly tortures by God’s power. Seeing all this, Caribus the Roman eparch declared that he also was a Christian. Caribus was tortured and then beheaded, and so was Blessed Felix. Finally, the imperial executioners cut off the honourable head of St. Eleutherius. When this mother, the holy Anthia, came and stood over the dead body of her son, she also was beheaded. Their bodies were translated to Valona, where event today St. Eleutherius glorifies the name of Christ by his many miracles. He suffered during the reign of Hadrian in the year 120.
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume Two.
Adorned with flowing priestly vesture and with dripping streams of blood you at once went to your Lord Christ, O blessed wise Eleutherius, annihilator of Satan. Wherefore, do not cease to intercede for those who honor your blessed struggles in faith.
O venerable One, we all praise and entreat you, Eleutherius, Priest-Martyr, comeliness of Priests and exaltation of champions. Deliver from diverse dangers those fervently honoring your memory, interceding unceasingly for us all.