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E00395: The Latin Martyrdom of *Euplius (martyr of Catania, S00207), probably 4th c., recounts the martyrdom of Euplos/Euplius and the burial of the saint's body in Catania (Sicily); the text probably contains elements of original trial acts. Probably written in Catania, possibly in the 4th c.

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posted on 2015-04-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Martyrdom of Euplius (Latin vesrion - BHL 2728)


The text has the format of two trial transcripts.

(1) On 12 August 304, in Catania, at the secretarium (government house), the deacon Euplius shouts out that he is a Christian and wants to die. The consularis Calvisianus summons him, and Euplius enters holding the gospels. A friend of Calvisianus, Maximus notes that he possesses forbidden documents, and Calvisianus asks him where he has these books from and if they come from his house. Euplius states that he has no house and that he brought indeed the books. He was found having the books. Calvisianus asks him to read, and Euplius starts reading from the gospels Beatitudes in the gospel of Matthew, and from the gospel of Mark. Calvisianus asks what these texts are, and Euplius replies that this is law of God. Asked by where he got this law from, Euplius replies that he has it from Christ. Calvisianus orders him to be tortured, after which a second interrogation starts.

(2) On 12 August 304, Calvisianus interrogates Euplius while he is tortured. Euplius crosses his forehead with his free hand, and states that he insists on his confession. Calvisianus asks him why he did not give up the forbidden books, and Euplius replies that he is a Christian and prefers to die rather than to give them up. Calvisianus orders Euplius to be tortured, while the martyr gives thanks to God. Calvisianus calls him to abstain from this insanity and venerate the gods, in order to be freed. Euplius states that he venerates Christ, not the demons. After torturing him for long, the executioners are ordered to stop, and Calvisianus once again calls him to venerate the gods, Mars, Apollo and Aesculapius, but Euplius replies that he venerates only the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, besides whom there is no god. Calvisianus orders Euplius to be tortured more intensely, and Euplius once again gives thanks to Christ.

(3) Calvisianus enters the council house, and comes out with a tablet containing the sentence against Euplius: he announces that the Euplius must die by the sword. They hang on his neck the gospels, with which he was arrested, while the herald announces that this is Euplius, enemy of the gods and the emperor. Euplius gives thanks to God. At the place of his execution, he prays again and is beheaded. The Christians bury his body.

Text: Musurillo 1972. Summary: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Euplius, deacon martyr in Catania, ob. 304 : S00207

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Activity not before


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Catana Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts


The hagiography of Euplius or Euplos of Catania in both its Greek and Latin versions (see E00395) was apparently compiled at Catania in Sicily during the 4th century. Although it may be using pieces from early trial transcripts, in its currently surviving form, it seems to be the product of heavy alterations and abridgements. It contains interesting details of what may have been a genuine account of a trial, involving what can be seen as voluntary martyrdom. It is difficult to say which of the two versions (Greek and Latin) is earlier, and in which language the martyrdom account was originally written - Greek and Latin coexisted in Sicily. Although probably abridged, the Greek version seems to preserve an earlier form of the text, containing details which are altered by the Latin text. The Greek text gives two dates, 29 April and 12 August, whereas the Latin dates both of the purported transcripts to 12 August. This may betray an earlier date for the Greek, preserving chronological data of the original documents, which, in the Latin version, are homogenised so as to conform with the established feast day of the saint. Also remarkable is that the Greek defines the judge of the martyr as a corrector provinciae, while the Latin calls him a consularis. The latter was the normal rank of the governors of the province of Sicily in Late Antiquity, but Sicily is known to have had correctores under the Tetrarchs (the only known example being Betitius Perpetuus, corrector Siciliae in 312/4; PLRE 1, 689, 'Perpetuus 2'), and therefore the Greek version may be preserving a piece of original information removed from the text by the Latin editor, who may have adjusted it to the reality of a later period.


Text, translation and comments: Musurillo, H., The acts of the Christian martyrs (Oxford Early Christian Texts; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), xlv, 314-319 Further reading: Acta Sanctorum Aug. II, 710-723 de Sainte Croix, G. E. M. Christian Persecution, Martyrdom and Orthodoxy (edited by M. Whitby and J. Streeter) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 56, 151-200 (on voluntary martyrdom).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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