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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Euplus (d. 304; in Latin also Euplius, in Greek Euplos and Eupolos, in Siculo-Calabrian dialects Opolo, in modern Italian Euplio) was a martyr of Catania during the Great Persecution.  He has acta both in Greek and in Latin (BHG 629-30e; BHL2728-30d), all forms of which seem ultimately to derive from a common source in which excerpts from transcripts of two official hearings dealing with him have been fitted into a brief narrative frame, presumably for liturgical reading.  The basic data are that Euplus, who was in a crowd of suspected Christians awaiting processing by a magistrate, shouted aloud that he was a Christian and that he wanted to die.  He was also holding in one hand a book containing the Gospels (proscribed by one of Diocletian's edicts).  Brought before the magistrate, he read from the Gospels and added that what he was holding was a copy of the law of his god.

Euplus was then bound over for trial and was sent to jail for the interim.  Appearing again before the magistrate on the following 12. August and asked if he still possessed the Gospels, Euplus responded affirmatively, suggesting that the manner of his present possession was through his having memorized them.  Sentenced to beating until he should sacrifice to the gods of the state, Euplus underwent considerable torment before dying of his injuries.  Developed versions of the story make Euplus a deacon and elaborate his torture.

Euplus' cult, attested in Sicily in the sixth century and at Rome beginning in the seventh, has been widespread in southern Europe from the early Middle Ages onward.  Since some indeterminate time before 1284, when he is first recorded as its patron, his supposed relics have reposed at Trevico (AV) in Campania; when these remains were examined scientifically in 2005 they turned out to have come from three different people: a young man, a woman, and a boy.  The late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century East Roman grand logothete Constantine Akropolites in his Encomium of St. Theodosia of Constantinople (BHG 1774; after 1301/02) treats Euplus as a major healing saint, naming him in this capacity at the end of a short list that otherwise consists of only the Theotokos, St. Demetrius, and St. Nicholas of Myra.     

Euplus is entered under today (12. August) in, among others, the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology, the Marble Calendar of Naples, and the historical martyrologies of St. Ado of Vienne and Usuard of St. Germain.  Today is his feast day in the ecclesiastical region of Sicily (obligatory in the diocese of Catania, optional elsewhere) and his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.  In the Synaxary of Constantinople and in the calendars of modern Byzantine-rite churches he is commemorated on 11. August.


Some period-pertinent images of St. Euplus:

a) as depicted an earlier eleventh-century fresco in the monastery church of St. Leontius at Vodoča (Strumica municipality) in today's Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
http://www.mpc.org.mk/_images/MPC/SE/Vodoca/TIM31822.jpg

b) as depicted in the recently restored late eleventh-century mosaics in the katholikon of the Daphni monastery in Chaidari (Attika regional authority):
http://tinyurl.com/zrg98uv

c) as depicted in the late twelfth-century frescoes (1191) in the church of St. George at Kurbinovo (Resen municipality) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
http://tinyurl.com/joclbe6

d) as depicted in the early thirteenth-century frescoes (1208; carefully restored in 1569) in the church of the Theotokos in the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo (Raška dist.) in Serbia:
http://tinyurl.com/28q78ng

e) as depicted in the mid-thirteenth-century frescoes (1259) in the church of Sts. Nicholas and Panteleimon at Boyana near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia: 
http://galenf.com/Bulgaria/36/bu_0016a.jpg

f) as depicted (at left; at right, St. John the Calybite) in the thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century frescoes of the church of the Evangelisteria in Geraki (Laconia prefecture) on the Peloponnese:
http://tinyurl.com/yhps7ae

g) as depicted in the late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century frescoes (ca. 1290-1305), attributed to Manuel Panselinos, in the Protaton church on Mt. Athos:
http://days.pravoslavie.ru/jpg/im4435.jpg

h) as depicted (at center in the panel at upper right; martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 51r):
http://image.ox.ac.uk/images/bodleian/msgrthf1/51r.jpg

i) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (1330s) on a partition between the altar area and the diaconicon in the church of the Holy Apostles in the Patriarchate  of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
http://tinyurl.com/ybkgx72

j) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the nave of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:
http://tinyurl.com/23u2ene

k) as depicted (at left) in the mid-fourteenth-century frescoes of the monastery church of St. Michael the Archangel at Lesnovo in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
http://tinyurl.com/gtbw6jq

Best,
John Dillon

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