On the twentieth of this month, we remember the Holy Martyr Eustathios and those with him, Theopisti his wife, and Agapios and Theopistos his sons.
Eustathios burns with his offspring in a bronze ox,
And you, O Word, save the whole race.
On the twentieth Eustathios with his wife and his sons were burned.
This Great Martyr of Christ, Eustathios, was a most illustrious general of Rome, during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the year 100. He was famously recognized by others for his virtue, his way of life and thought, and he was merciful and compassionate to the poor. He was first called Plakidas, and his wife was Tatiani.
Hence this infamous man, because he was held under the delusion of idols, and for his great reverence and goodness, was made worthy to be called from above to faith in God, just as the Apostle Paul.
Once, as he was hunting and chasing after a large deer, and was near it and approaching it, O the wonder!, he saw standing between the two antlers of the deer, the honorable Cross of Christ, which shined like the sun. And on it was Christ crucified, from which he heard a voice saying: "Plakidas, why are you chasing after me? I am Christ."
Thus the blessed one was taught piety by Christ, and was baptized with his entire household. And instead of Plakidas he was renamed Eustathios. His wife, instead of Tatiani, was renamed Theopisti. And of his sons, one was renamed Agapios and the other Theopistos.
Then he was instructed by Christ, who appeared to him by means of trial temptations which he was to suffer, like Job, and so he was surrendered over to the tempting demon. Immediately he lost everything he had, and left his homeland with his wife and children. As for his wife, he lost her on the journey to ship-masters, who were barbarous and wild people. His two children were taken by two wild animals when he was crossing a river. However, his wife and children were kept unharmed by divine Providence. Saint Eustathios, who was formerly rich and a man of office, was left to work for a salary. Under such circumstances this unbreakable man bravely endured, though not for a short period.
Due to the fact that barbarians went up against the land of the Romans, and the emperor was seeking help in this battle against the barbarians, there came to his remembrance the brave Eustathios who of old had manly virtue and was victorious. Therefore there was an investigation and he was sought for throughout the world, and the good Eustathios was soon recognized by the royal men seeking him. They were surprised by the pitiful vision they saw, for he was in an impoverished state when he was found. So he went to the emperor and was magnificently honored by being raised to his former office. He was sent against the barbarians, and altogether conquered them. On his return to Rome after the battle, by the economy and plan of God, he found his wife and children, and they were reunited. Wherefore he magnified God for all things which He paradoxically economized.
Returning to Rome with his wife and children, he went to Emperor Hadrian, in the year 117, and having received great gifts for his victory, he was urged to sacrifice to the gods in thanksgiving for his victory. The Saint told him that he was victorious through the power of Christ, and not the power of the gods. This enraged the tyrant. First, he removed the position of general from him. Then he was brought to be fed to wild lions with his wife and children. Because the four were kept unharmed from the wild beasts, they were all placed into a red-hot copper ox. In this way their sacred souls were delivered into the hands of God, and their holy bodies were kept completely unharmed from the fire, so that the unbelieving people were amazed and came to faith in Christ. And the Christians were compelled to glorify their Holy God. So they reverently took up their bodies and lavishly buried them.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O glorious Eustathios, thou wast hunted from heaven and captured by Him Who appeared as a deer. Together with thy wife and sons thou wast tempted and didst triumph in contests. Thou dost gladden those who cry: Glory to Christ Who glorified thee; glory to Him Who crowned thee; glory to Him Who proved thee all-blessed one to be a second Job.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Thou didst follow Christ's Passion, Eustathios, and willingly drank His chalice. Thou art also fellow-heir to His glory and hast received from Him heavenly power.