Friday, September 26, 2014


St. Polyeuctus
Polyeuctus of Melitene
Died January 10,  250-259.

Feast day: February 13

Patron of vows and treaty agreements

Roman martyr of Greek parentage. An official in the Roman provincial government in the East, he was put to death in Armenia during the persecution launched by Emperor Valerian. His Acts are extant, as recorded by Metaphrastes, and are well known for their beauty and poignancy. Polyeuctus martyrdom was the subject of a play by Pierce Corneille in the seventeenth century.

Saint Polyeuctus, a wealthy Roman officer, was martyred at Melitene, Armenia, under Valerian. His acta, as given by Metaphrastes, are as touching as any in early Christian literature. His friend Nearchus was so zealous in his desire to lay down his life for Christ when he heard the Christian
persecution was to reach the outposts of the Empire, that Polyeuctus was converted to the faith and openly professed it. He was, of course, captured and condemned to be tortured. When his
tormentors were weary, they turned to argumentation to persuade him to apostatize. Most men would have been moved by the distress of their families. But tears and protestations of his wife Paulina,
his children, and his father-in-law Felix were insufficient move this new Christian. Finally the sentence of death was passed by the judge, which Polyeuctus greeted with such cheerfulness and joy that many were converted as he travelled to the place of his beheading.

 The Christians buried him in Melitene. Nearchus gathered his blood in a cloth, and afterwards wrote his acta. The Greeks keep his festival very solemnly, and all the Latin martyrologies mention him.

Saint Euthymius often prayed in a famous church of St. Polyeuctus at Melitene. The stately church bearing his name in Constantinople, under Justinian, the vault of which was covered with plates of gold, in which it was the custom for men to make their most solemn oaths, as is related by Saint Gregory of Tours. The same author informs us, in his history of the Franks, that the kings of France confirmed their treaties by the name of Polyeuctus.  Saint Jerome's Martyrology and the most ancient Armenian calendars place Polyeuctus's feast on January 7; while the Greeks celebrate in on January 9. Nevertheless, his feast is marked on February 13 in the ancient martyrology, which was sent from Rome to Aquileia in the eighth century, and which is copied by Ado, Usuard, and the Roman Martyrology. Corneille has used some elements of the martyr's story in his tragedy Polyeucte .

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