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Monday, September 20, 2010

St. Eustace and Companions, Mm

Eustace, with wife and sons, martyrs
Of this Eustace no historical records exist, nor of his holy Companions. But there is sufficient evidence of the holiness of his life and death in the veneration of him as one of the best beloved of Martyrs, which began very early, and was very early widespread both in the East and in the West. He is accounted the patron of huntsmen, and as such is reckoned as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The account which is popularly given of him is on this wise. He had been a rich Roman nobleman and distinguished soldier, and under Trajan rose to be a military commander. One day while hunting, he pursued a great stag. The same turned about stood at bay, whereat Eustace thought he saw, Between his antlers, the Lord Christ, shining glorious on his cross, and saying : Rather, thou shouldst pursue eternal life. Thereupon Eustace, and his wife Theopista, and their two little sons, Agapitus and Theopistus, enlisted under the great Captain Christ. Not long after, he lost all his wealth, and was obliged to leave his wife and children, whilst he went to work as steward for a great land-owner. But Trajan recalled him as a captain to the army ; and when thereafter he returned to Rome a conqueror, and was united to his family, Trajan commanded him to offer sacrifice to the gods, in thanksgiving for his victories. And when he would not, he and his wife and sons were burnt, namely, on September 20th, about the year 118. And because of his holy and adventurous life he was invoked in olden times by huntsmen and those who must live dangerously, as on of the most blessed of the Holy Helpers.

O God, who vouchsafest unto us to keep the heavenly birthday of blessed Eustace and his Companions, thy holy Martyrs : grant, we beseech thee, that we may rejoice in the perpetual felicity of their fellowship in heaven. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

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