Saint Thyrsus: The Iconography

In Apollonia, SS. Leucus, Thyrsus, and Callinicus. In the time of the Emperor Decius they were put to various tortures and finally beheaded. The spirit left from them with an angelic voice as they achieved martyrdom. – Roman Martyrology for January 28

St. Thyrsus is not in the Golden Legend, but the Acta Sanctorum presents a number of texts that tell his story. While still a pagan he protested the execution of St. Leucius to the judge Cumbricius and expressed the opinion that there was but one true god. For this he was tortured, managed to get himself baptized, and was tortured again in a number of ways until the judge finally ordered that he be "cut to pieces like a pig."1

The Roman Martyrology for January 28 says this took place in Apollonia in Phrygia; other sources suggest it was in Africa. In any case, his remains were eventually translated to Constantinople and thence to several cities in Spain.

Because of the manner of his death his attribute is a bucksaw, as in the pictures at right. During the tortures Cumbricius ordered his men to break the saint's arms and legs; this may explain the large cudgel in the first picture.

Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University


A statue in the Church of San Tirso, Palas do Rei, Galicia (See the description page.)

In a public square in Palas do Rei (See the description page.)


  • Feast day: January 28
  • Most of the ancient sources say Thyrsus was martyred during the reign of Decius (249-251).


  • In Spain he is San Tirso.




1 Acta Sanctorum, January vol. 2, 819.