University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E02492: The Martyrdom of *Eusebius (presbyter and martyr of Rome under Constantius II, ob. 356/361, S01413) is written in Latin, presumably in Rome during Late Antiquity, perhaps during the Laurentian schism (498-506), ostensibly by one of the protagonists, Orosius. It narrates the martyrdoms of the priests Eusebius and his relative Gregorius, supporters of pope Felix II (356-365), at the hands of the emperor Constantius II (337-361) and pope Liberius (352-366), during the schism between the two popes. Both martyrs are buried next to *Sixtus II (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00201) on the via Appia in the cemetery of Callixtus.

online resource
posted on 2017-03-08, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Eusebius (BHL 2740)


Liberius is called back from exile by the heretical emperor Constantius, requiring him not to perform baptisms but to mingle everyone under one communion. The Roman priest Eusebius denounces Liberius as a heretic and friend of Constantius. As a result, many avoid communion with Liberius, and he decides to occupy churches and expel Felix from his episcopal seat.

Eusebius is arrested, as he gathers people in the house that he himself has built. In a dialogue with the emperor Constantius and Liberius, Eusebius tells them that he is an heir of Pope Julius [Liberius' predecessor as pope] and tells Liberius that he should have persevered in the face of [Constantius'] persecution. He condemns Constantius and Liberius for having sent Felix into exile, although he was spending his time praying on his small estate. Constantius, following Liberius’ demand, shuts Eusebius in a small room. There, Eusebius spends his time praying for seven months and dies, on the 19th day of the Calends of September [= 14 August].

His body is taken by the priests Gregorius and Orosius, his relatives, and they bury it in a crypt next to the body of the blessed martyr and bishop Sixtus on the via Appia in the cemetery of Callixtus. There an inscription is placed in his memory [the text of the inscription is given]: ‘To Eusebius, man of God (Eusebio, homini dei)’.

At that time, the emperor Constantius hears about Eusebius’ burial and orders Gregorius to be shut up alive in the same crypt. Orosius takes the half-dead Gregorius at night, and after he dies, he buries him next to the body of Eusebius. Orosius wrote down these deeds (gesta).

From that day anyone found in churches not adhering to Liberius is killed by the sword on the order of the emperor Constantius. Constantius persecutes Christians (christiani) together with Liberius, and people are killed in squares, roads, churches and baths. After Liberius’ death, Damasus is elected, he condemns Liberius in a synod assembling 28 bishops and 25 priests and the persecution ends, but not for long.

Text: Mombritius 1910, I, 459. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eusebius, priest and martyr of Rome : S01413

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

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

Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Observed scarcity/absence of miracles

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Heretics Monarchs and their family Ecclesiastics - Popes

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



The Martyrdom of Eusebius narrates events pertaining to the Felician schism: in 356, pope Liberius (352-366) was exiled by the emperor Constantius II, and Felix named as the new pope; then Liberius returned in 358 and Felix was forced to abandon his see (he died in 365). At Liberius’ death in 366, however, Felix’ party elected Damasus against Ursicinus; Felix’s figure and memory was progressively reassessed positively, to the extent that he was then promoted as a martyr (see E02495). In the context of the schism, Eusebius is presented as a follower of Felix, who is martyred as a result of the Arian Constantius’ persecution. There is one main early and widespread version of the Martyrdom, BHL 2740 (BHL 2741 being an abbreviated version attested in a 15th c. manuscript: Paris, BNF, lat. 14651, f. 215r-215v). As suggested by Verrando and Lanéry, it seems that it was only during the middle ages that BHL 2740 was merged with the Martyrdom of Felix (BHL 2857; E02495), to produce an augmented version of the latter (BHL 2858). There are more than 80 manuscripts preserved of BHL 2740 (see the database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta ( and an additional list in Lanéry 2010, 162 n. 347). The earliest are from the 9th century: Brussels, Bibliothèque des Bollandistes, 14, f. 87v-88r; Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. XXXII, f. 15r; Orléans, Bibliothèque Municipale 191 (168), f. 71r-73r; Paris, BNF, lat. 5299, f. 73r-74v; Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 846, f. 120v-121r; Vienna, ÖNB, lat. 357, f. 165v-166v.


The Martyrdom does not share the main features of epic late antique martyrdom accounts: it is a short and straightforward narrative, without any miracles, descriptions of tortures, or long questioning of the martyrs. It is clearly aimed at polemicising against schismatics, here the emperor Constantius, pope Liberius, and his supporters. The text, promoting Eusebius as a martyr, tells of his burial, together with his relative Gregorius, in a crypt in the cemetery of Callixtus on the via Appia, even giving an inscription put on Eusebius’ tomb. Nevertheless, this inscription has never been found (see Lapidge for a discussion, with hypotheses about Eusebius’ character). The author, who takes the name of Orosius (perhaps to recall the famous history writer), also shows knowledge of Pope Sixtus II’s burial in the same cemetery (see S00201). As summarised by Verrando and Lanéry, it is possible that the Martyrdom, attested in manuscripts since the 9th century, was produced during the Laurentian schism (498-506) by followers of Laurentius, who used the memory of the Felician schism, and who identified with the party of Felix, to attack Symmachus’ followers, presented as Liberius’ heirs. The Martyrdom would have been written in the titulus Eusebii, presenting the founder of the titulus Eusebius as a priest martyred during the Felician schism. Lanéry underlines that clerics of the titulus Eusebii supported Laurentius during the schism. It is plausible that it was written in the same context as the Martyrdom of Felix (E02495), although it does not, as the latter, present pope Felix as a martyr. It remains uncertain whether Liberius’ biography in the first edition of the Liber Pontificalis made any use of the Martyrdom (E01244).


Edition (BHL 2740): Mombritius, B., Sanctuarium seu vitae sanctorum, 2 vols. with additions and corrections by A. Brunet and H. Quentin (Paris, 1910), I, 459. The original edition was published c. 1480. English translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 300-302. Further reading: Lanéry, C., "Hagiographie d'Italie (300-550). I. Les Passions latines composées en Italie,” in: Philippart, G. (ed.), Hagiographies. Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, vol. V (Turnhout, 2010), 15-369, at 161-165 (with further bibliography). Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford, 2018), 297-300. Verrando, G.N., “Liberio – Felice. Osservazioni e rettifiche di carattere storico-agiografico,” Rivisti di storia della Chiesa in Italia 35 (1981), 91-125.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager