Saints Cyrus and John (Ciro e Giovanni, اباكير ويوحنا) (d. ca. 304 AD) are venerated as martyrs. They are especially venerated by the Coptic Church and surnamed Wonderworking Unmercenaries (thaumatourgoi anargyroi) because they healed the sick free of charge.
Their feast day is celebrated by the Copts on the sixth day of Tobi, corresponding to 31 January, the day also observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church (see January 31 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)); on the same day they are commemorated in the Roman Martyrology. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate also the finding and translation of their relics on 28 June.
At the time of St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria (412-444), there existed at Menuthis (Menouthes or Menouthis) near Canopus and present-day Abu Qir, a pagan temple reputed for its oracles and cures which attracted even some simple Christians of the vicinity. St. Cyril thought to extirpate this idolatrous cult by establishing in that town the cultus of Sts. Cyrus and John. For this purpose he translated thither their relics (28 June, 414) and placed them in the church built by his predecessor, Theophilus, in honour of the Four Evangelists.
Before the finding and transfer of the relics by St. Cyril it seems that the names of the two saints were unknown; it is certain that no written records of them were known prior to then. In the fifth century, during the pontificate of Pope Innocent I, their relics were brought to Rome by two monks, Grimaldus and Arnulfus—this according to a manuscript in the archives of the deaconry of Santa Maria in Via Lata, cited by Antonio Bosio.
Mai, however, for historical reasons, justly assigns a later date, namely 634, under Pope Honorius I and the Emperor Heraclius (Spicilegium Rom., III, V). The relics were placed in the suburban church of Santa Passera (a linguistic corruption of "Abbas Cyrus") on the Via Portuense. In the time of Bosio the pictures of the two saints were still visible in this church (Bosio, op. cit., ib.) Upon the door of the hypogeum, which still remains, is the following inscription in marble:--
Their tomb became a shrine and place of pilgrimage. In Coptic Cyrus' name became Difnar, Apakiri, Apakyri, Apakyr; in Arabic, 'Abaqir, 'Abuqir. The city of Abu Qir, now a suburb of Alexandria, was named after him. At Rome three churches were dedicated to these martyrs, Abbas Cyrus de Militiis, Abbas Cyrus de Valeriis, and Abbas Cyrus ad Elephantum —all of which were transformed afterwards by the vulgar pronunciation into S. Passera, a corruption of Abbas Cyrus.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, Cyrus and John are among the saints who are commemorated during the Liturgy of Preparation in the Divine Liturgy.