Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saintly Saturday: St. Eutychius the Martyr

Today is the feast day of the martyr St. Eutychius of Melitene. Interestingly, what we know of his life story is in stark contrast to last week's subject, St. Constantine. Where there is a plethora of information available about the first Christian Emperor of Rome from multiple sources and multiple points of view, the following is what can be found on the official website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese:

All information concerning this Martyr has been lost, except that he presented himself before the tyrants, mocked the idols, suffered many unspeakable torments, and was finally drowned in the sea.

This is particularly interesting, because despite this dearth of information, St. Eutychius is still the primary saint celebrated today in the Greek churches.

I must explain that within Orthodoxy, there is a very strong connection to local tradition, which differs from local church to local church (where local church is the bishop and all of the parishes in his jurisdiction). For example, on Palm Sunday, it is customary for Russian Orthodox communities to use pussy willow branches instead of palm leaves. These local traditions include the adoration of local saints.

In other words, just because a saint is remembered in Greece, does not necessarily mean that they will be in Russia, the Middle East, Romania, etc. St. Eutychius is one such saint, enjoying prominence in the Greek tradition; however, not so much in other localities.

Having read the hymns of the feast, it possible to determine three things about him:
  • He learned about Christianity from the Apostles themselves (thus, he lived during the first century A.D.).
  • His hands were bound, he was enclosed in a leather bag and thrown into the sea.
  • Despite this, his relics were somehow recovered and a church was built up around these relics (now lost).

I can't help but wonder if it is this ancient provenance and the fact that Melitene is now in Turkish hands that St. Eutychius holds the imagination of the Greek tradition despite how little we know of his life. Regardless, I think it is pretty cool.


The Shrine of the Unknown Saint

This is an encounter area that can be placed in the wilderness or in a dungeon near a body of water. Despite being neglected for centuries, the iconography within is in pristine condition. They depict a saint who was taught by other well-known saints, who challenged idolaters and who was martyred by being thrown into the sea.

Those of Lawful (or Good) alignment who pray within will be granted one of the following for the next 24 hours:

1-3 The swimming movement of merfolk — 120' (40')
4-5 The effects of a Water Breathing spell
6 Both of the above

Those of Chaotic (or Evil) alignment who even enter will suffer the affects of a Confusion spell.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea for this shrine.

    We had more of this sort of thing in the Latin Rite before the, ahem, internal unpleasantness a few hundred years ago.