Saint Eusebius of Rome, Martyr

August 14

Today is the feast day of Saint Eusebius of Rome.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Eusebius date of birth unknown. He died about 357 (?).   He was a Roman patrician and priest, and is mentioned with distinction in Latin martyrologies. The ancient genuine martyrology of Usuard styles him confessor at Rome under the Arian emperor Constantius and adds that he was buried in the cemetery of Callistus. Some later martyrologies call him a martyr. 

The Church celebrates on this day the memory of Saint Eusebius, who among the Christians of his time distinguished himself by his spirit of prayer and his apostolic virtues. Tradition reports that when he was arraigned, Maxentius, the governor of the Province, interrogated him.  Maxentius was furious at the Saint’s constancy while he was placed on the rack.  Maxentius sentenced him to die by fire at the stake; but his unusual serenity when going to the place of execution caused him to be summoned back to the tribunal, obviously by a particular disposition of Providence.

The Emperor himself being in the region, the governor went to him and told him the prisoner asked to be taken before him. The reason for this request was that there had not been any recent edicts published against the Christians. Saint Eusebius was advanced in age, and the emperor said, after questioning him, What harm is there that this man should adore the God he talks of as superior to all the others? But the brutal Maxentius would not listen, and, like Pilate facing Christ, the Emperor told the persecutors of the accused man to judge the affair themselves. Maxentius therefore sentenced him to be decapitated. Eusebius, hearing the sentence, said aloud, I thank Your goodness and praise Your power, O Lord Jesus Christ, because in calling me to prove my fidelity, You have treated me as one of Yours. His martyrdom occurred towards the end of the third century.

The feast of St. Eusebius is kept on 14 August.  This is one of the cases in which we have clear evidence of the historical existence of a person who was afterwards the object of a certain cultus, though the story subsequently told is quite untrustworthy. Eusebius beyond doubt founded what we may call a parish church in Rome which was known as the “titulus Eusebii”. As founder an annual commemoration Mass was offered for him, which in course of time was regarded as a Mass celebrated in his honor, and in 595 we find that the parish was already referred to as the “titulus sancti Eusebii”.

The church of the Equiline in Rome dedicated to him, said to have been built on the site of his house, is mentioned in the acts of a council held in Rome under Pope Symmachus in 498 (Manai, VIII, 236-237), and was rebuilt by Pope Zacharias. Formerly it had a statio on the Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent. It once belonged to the Celestines (an order now extinct); Leo XII gave it to the Jesuits. A good picture representing the triumph of Eusebius, by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1759 is on the ceiling. San Eusebio is the title of the cardinal-priest. The title was transferred by Gregory XVI, but restored by Pius IX.

Image: Saint Eusebius of Rome Church, Italy / Lazio / Rome / Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (5)

Research by REGINA Staff


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