Thursday, August 13, 2009

Famous last words: Euplius (304)

On August 12, 304, a deacon named Euplius in the city of Catana, Sicily was discovered by authorities engaged in reading a book containing the Gospels and instructing other Christians. They apprehended him and brought him to Calvisianus, the Roman Proconsul.

When Euplius had entered the tribunal, carrying with him the Gospel books, one of the Proconsul's friends said: “It is not right for him to carry such papers with him contrary to the prohibition of the Emperors."

The Proconsul asked Euplius from where did he get these writings? Did he brought them from his house?

Euplius answered that he had no home. Then the Proconsul commanded him  to read something out of the writings. Euplius opened the book and read these words, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." He then read "Whosover will come after me, let him deny himself.”

The Proconsul asked, "What does all this mean?"

Euplius replied, "This is the law of my Lord, of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God."

The Proconsul, having heard this confession of Christ, said, "Let him be delivered unto the executioners, put to the rack, and thus examined."

Euplius was then brutally tortured and then commanded to deliver up the Scriptures he had with him and to have them burned to the dishonour of Jesus Christ. All of this he steadfastly refused to do.  Instead, he cried out to Jesus, thanking Him that he had been found worthy to suffer for His name's sake.

Euplius was again led to the rack and dreadfully tormented in the same manner as before. But he suffered it patiently, and called upon the Lord, saying, "I thank Thee, O Christ! Help me, O Christ! For Thy sake I suffer all this, O Christ!"

The Proconsul, enraged by this, gave the sentence of death to the clerk of the criminal court.  Then, coming out again from the tribunal, and bringing with him the tablet containing the death sentence, he read the latter aloud, as follows, "I command that Euplius, the Christian, be slain with the sword, because he despises the gods of the Emperors, blasphemes the other gods, and does not repent. Lead him away."

The book which he had with him when he was apprehended was suspended from his neck, and a crier went before him, crying thus, "Euplius, the enemy of the gods and the Emperors, is led to death." Euplius went joyfully to the place where he was to be put to death, continually thanking Christ for His grace. As he walked to his death, he repeated, “I give thanks to Jesus Christ my God. Confirm, O Lord, what you have wrought in me.”

Having arrived at the place of execution, he bowed his knees reverently and prayed for a long time. When he was finished, he offered his neck to the sword, and poured out his blood as a drink offering unto the Lord. His dead body was afterwards removed by the Christians and buried.

(sources: Martyrs Mirror - Thieleman J. Van Braght; Lives of the Saints - Alban Butler)

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