A Garner of Saints – Saint Eustace

statue of Saint Eustachius by Johann Michael Feichtmayr (1709-1772), in the Basilika Vierzehnheiligen in Germany, photographer unknownArticle

(Latin: Eustachius; French: Eustache) Originally known as Placidus, being master of the horse of the Emperor Trajan, and though an idolater, he was merciful and just. One day, as he was hunting, he came upon a herd of deer, one of which, finer than the rest, separating itself from the herd, ran into a vast wood. Placidus followed, and endeavoured to take it, when the stag ascended a high rock. As he was considering how he could reach it, he saw between its horns the form of the Cross with the image of Christ upon it, and while he looked the stag spoke to him, saying: “O Placidus, why do you pursue me? I am Christ whom you ignorantly worship; your alms have ascended to me, and for this. reason I am come to you.” At this Placidus wasovercome by fear and fell to the earth; but after an hour he rose, and Christ declared Himself to him. Then he arose and believed, and at midnight he went to the Bishop of Rome, and was baptised, together with his wife and two sons. For his wife had. received a similar vision. From this time he was known as Eustace. On the morrow he again went hunting, and saw the. same vision, and fell on his face and worshipped, the Lord exhorting him to remain steadfast, as he would have to undergo a trial like that of Job. After a few days a plague carried off all his servants and cattle; some malefactors entered his house, and stole everything which they found, and that night he escaped with his wife and children. And the King and Senate grieved greatly, for they could find no trace of him. Eustace meanwhile came to the sea and took ship there. The captain was seized with desire for his wife, and demanding their passage money, he took her instead, because they were not able to pay anything. But Eustace would not agree, so that the captain ordered his sailors to throw him into the sea, and when Eustace heard this he fled away in sorrow with his two sons. And coming to a river, he could not cross with both, but took one and left the other on the bank. He then recrossed to fetch the other, but when he was in the middle of the stream, a wolf came and carried off one infant to the woods, and as he turned, a lion came and snatched away the other. Then he wept and tore his hair, and would have drowned himself had he notbeen sustained by Divine Providence. But some shepherds pursued the lion and rescued the child unhurt, while some ploughmen took the other son from the wolf; and the two boys were brought up close to one another, though Eustace was ignorant of all this. For fifteen years Eustace kept the fields of the men of the town where he lodged. At the end of this time the Emperor and Roman people were much harassed by enemies, and longed for Placidus. Two soldiers, who had served him, happened to be passing through the town where he lived, and he recognised them, though they did not know him.. However, he invited them in, and presently they perceived that it must be Placidus, from an old scar. After fifteen days they brought him to the Emperor, who was overjoyed at his return, At once he was raised to his “former office of Master of the Horse, and began to gather soldiers for his army. Among them were his two sons, who rested one night: in a poor tent where their mother was. From their conversation and other signs their mother recognised them, and going to the Master of the Horse, she threw herself at his feet, and asked him to tell her of his former life. Then Eustace recognised his wife and embraced her, and she told him where their sons were to be found. Thus the family were reunited, amid the rejoicings of the whole army, and soon after Eustace gained a signal victory over the barbarians. Before his return from the campaign, Trajan had died, and was succeeded by Hadrian, who prepared a great feast for the conqueror. But when they went to the temple to offer sacrifice for the victory, Hadrian perceived that Eustace took no part, and exhorted him to sacrifice, whereupon Eustace acknowledged that he was a Christian. Then the Emperor caused him to be thrown to the beasts in the arena, with his wife and sons; but the -lion lowered his head, as in adoration, and departed with humility. After that the Emperor caused them all to be put inside a brazen bull and roasted them, and thus they expired. On the third day they were taken out, and found to be untouched by the fire. The martyrdom took place in the second century. 20 September.

Attribute

  • the stag with the cross between its horns; usually dressed as a Roman soldier

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Eustace”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 April 2017. Web. 28 April 2017. <>