- Saint Eustace
:"For the Lithuanian saint, see Eustace of Vilnius."Infobox Saint
name=Saint Eustace and companions
September 20( Western Christianity); November 2( Eastern Christianity)
Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church
caption="The Vision of Saint Eustace", by
attributes=bull; crucifix; horn; stag; oven
patronage=against fire; difficult situations; fire prevention; firefighters; hunters; hunting; huntsmen; Madrid; torture victims; trappers
Saint Eustace, also known as Eustachius or Eustathius, was a legendary Christian Martyr who lived in the
2nd centuryAD. A martyr of that name is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, which, however, judges that the legend recounted about him is "completely fabulous." ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] For that reason removed from the Roman Catholic calendar of saintsto be commemorated liturgically worldwide on the former feast of "Saint Eustace and Companions". ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 139]
Prior to his conversion to Christianity, he was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor
Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of Jesusbetween the stag's antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace (meaning "good fortune" or "fruitful"). A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea voyage, the ship's captain kidnapped Eustace's wife; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith. He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family; but when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor, Hadrian, condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118.
Veneration and Diffusion of Cult
The story was popularized in
Jacobus de Voragine's " Golden Legend" (c. 1260). Eustace became known as a patron saintof hunters, and also of anyone facing adversity; he was traditionally included among the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
As with many early
saints, there is little evidence for Eustace's existence; elements of his story have been attributed to other saints (notably the Belgian Saint Hubert).
St Eustace's feast day in the
Roman Catholic Churchwas September 20. ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] In addition, Saint Eustace and his companions were included in the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints who were to be commemorated wherever the Roman Riteis celebrated, but that commemoration was removed in 1969 because, in view of the fabulous character of his "Passio," scarcely anything is known of the saint. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana), p. 139] Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the feast of "St Eustace and Companions, Martyrs" on September 20. [See the General Roman Calendar as in 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, and the General Roman Calendar of 1962] Many Roman Catholics worldwide still venerate Saint Eustace and the Fourteen Holy Helpersoverall.
Patronage and cultural references
He is one of the
patron saintsof Madrid, Spain. Scenes from the story, especially Eustace kneeling before the stag, became a popular subject of medievalreligious art. Early artistic depictions of the legend include a wall painting at Canterbury Cathedraland stained glasswindows at the Cathedral of Chartres. There is a Church of Saint Eustace in Paris, and the island of Sint Eustatiusin the Netherlands Antillesis named after him.
The novels "
The Herb of Grace" (US title: " Pilgrim's Inn") (1948) by British author Elizabeth Goudge, and " Riddley Walker" (1980) by English author Russell Hoban, incorporate the legend into their plot.
Sint Eustatius, an island named after him.
Imagination (film), film inspired by Saint Eustace.
Hubertus, another saint with a similar legend.
* [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/sainte17.htm Patron Saints: Saint Eustachius]
* [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/golden298.htm The Golden
*CathEncy|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05627a.htm|title=Sts. Eustachius and Companions
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