|Martyrdom of St. Eustathius and his two Sons|
Martyrdom of St. Eustathius and his two Sons
On this day we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Eustathius and his two sons. Eustathius was a minister in the Roman Empire. At the beginning of his life he did not know God, but he used to give alms and charity in abundance. The Lord did not wish that his toil should be in vain.
While he was in the desert hunting wild animals, there appeared to him the figure of a cross between the horns of a deer and it reached up to heaven. He chased the deer in the mountains to hunt it, and the Lord told him about his new name; Eustathius, for he had been called Ephlokidus before.
The Lord commanded him to be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus and told him that poverty would come upon him speedily. He descended from the mountain and went to the bishop of the city who baptized him and his wife and their two sons, and he changed his name to Eustathius as the Lord commanded him. Straightaway he lost all that he had.
He took his wife and his sons, and left the City of Rome and embarked on a ship, and as he could not pay the fare they took his wife instead. He took his two sons and came to a river where he crossed to the other side with one of them and returned to get the other but could not find him because a lion had taken him. Then he went back to the first son but he did not find him either because a wolf had seized him. He was heart broken because of the loss of his wife and his two sons.
Eustathius stayed for a period of time working as a guard in a garden until the Emperor of Rome died and another reigned instead who sent messengers to search for him. One of the messengers happened to enter the garden where the saint worked. The two men recognized each other and St. Eustathius was taken back to the Emperor. The Emperor honored him and returned him to his former position as a minister.
It also happened in that time that war broke out and they recruited two men from each city to the army. The two sons of the saint were saved from the lion and the wolf by the Divine Will and were brought up in the same city. They remained for a long time not knowing each other. Then the Will of God arranged that both would be recruited from that city. One day they met in a garden and as they were talking to each other, they discovered that they were brothers.
As to their mother, the owner of the ship who had kept her in payment of the fare was a barbarian, but God protected her from him. He kept her in the same garden which by the Divine Will was the same one in which her two sons met each other. She heard her sons talking and recognized them. The two sons were assigned to guard the treasury of their father who did not recognize them.
When the Lord wished to unite this blessed family again, the wife entered the place where her husband was, and they recognized one another and rejoiced for reuniting unexpectedly. While she was telling her husband about meeting their sons in the garden, the two sons entered the place and joined them and she cried joyfully. They embraced each other in tears of joy and thanked God who had fulfilled what he had promised and then lived together in peace.
After that, the Emperor died and another reigned who worshipped idols. He summoned St. Eustathius, his wife and his sons and ordered them to worship the idols but they refused. He tortured them with fire but they were not harmed. Then he commanded to cast them into a brazen cauldron and set fire under it and thus they submitted their souls into the hand of the Lord, and received the crown of martyrdom.
May their prayers be with us. Glory be to God forever. Amen.