The Holy Great Martyr Eustathius together with his wife Theopiste, and their two sons Agapius and Theopistus, a whole family of saints, is possibly one of the most interesting and unique biographies in the Orthodox Synaxarion. Saint Eustathius lived as a pagan military commander under the Roman Emperor. Due to his love of charity and great virtue, the Lord did not allow him to remain in the darkness of idolatry. One day while hunting, Eustathius spotted a deer which looked him right in the eye. As the deer stared at his hunter, a radiant image of the Crucifixion glowed from between the deer’s antlers. A voice from God spoke to him, saying Who He was and what His plans were for his Saint-to-be. Eustathius went home and told his wife the strange event, only to learn his wife had a dream the night before where she was informed that she would soon come to know the true God. The whole family was baptised and soon, Eustathius heard a voice telling him of his impending sufferings, like that of Job. His cattle plagued, his servants dead, and his home ruined, Eustathius did not complain, but rather fled with his family to live a simpler life. On the way, the captain of the ship they were sailing left Eustathius and his children on shore, keeping Theopiste to himself. In an attempt to carry his children across a river, Eustathius lost one as a lion snatched the boy away, while the other was seized by a wolf. After many seemingly coincidental events (all according to the will of God) the family was miraculously reunited in Rome – his two sons served him as soldiers and his wife as an attendant to the soldiers, all unknowingly. When they began telling each other their stories, they then realised that it was each other they had lost so many years prior. After a battle was won by Eustathius and his children, the Emperor Trajan ordered them to sacrifice to the pagan gods. They refused and were then subject to torture. Their final punishment was to be placed in the brazen bull, only to find that it would not harm them, but peacefully reposing without a hair scathed by the heat.
Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Ἀγρευθεῖς οὐρανόθεν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν ἔνδοξε, τὴ τοῦ σοὶ ὀφθέντος δυνάμει, δι’ ἐλάφου Εὐστάθιε, ποικίλους καθυπέστης πειρασμούς, καὶ ἤστραψας ἐν ἄθλοις ἱεροίς, σὺν τὴ θεία σου συμβίω καὶ τοὶς υἱοίς, φαιδρύνων τοὺς βοώντας σοι. Δόξα τῷ σὲ δοξάσαντι Χριστῷ, δόξα τῷ σὲ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τῷ δείξαντι σὲ ἐν παντί, Ἰὼβ παμμάκαρ δεύτερον.
Troparion, Tone 4
Ἦχος β’. Τὰ ἄνω ζητῶν.
Τὰ πάθη Χριστοῦ, σαφῶς μιμησάμενος, καὶ τούτου πιών, πιστῶς τὸ ποτήριον, κοινωνὸς Εὐστάθιε, καὶ τῆς δόξης σύγκληρος γέγονας, παρ’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ πάντων Θεοῦ, λαμβάνων ἐξ ὕψους θείαν ἄφεσιν.
Your holy martyr Eustáthius and his wife and sons, O Lord, through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. Through their intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion – Tone 2
“Seeking the highest…”
Having openly imitated the Passion of Christ, and having eagerly drunk of His cup, O Eustáthius, you became a partaker and fellow heir of His glory, receiving divine forgiveness from on high from the God of all.