Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Polyeuctus, Martyr
THE CITY of Melitine, a station of the Roman troops in the Lesser Armenia, is illustrious for a great number of martyrs, whereof the first in rank is Polyeuctus. He was a rich Roman officer, and had a friend called Nearchus, a zealous Christian, who when the news of the persecution, raised by the emperor against the church, reached Armenia, prepared himself to lay down his life for his faith; and grieving to leave Polyeuctus in the darkness of Paganism, was so successful in his endeavours to induce him to embrace Christianity, as not only to gain him over to the faith, but to inspire him with an eager desire of laying down his life for the same. He openly declared himself a Christian, and was apprehended and condemned to cruel tortures. The executioners being weary with tormenting him, betook themselves to the method of argument and persuasion in order to prevail with him to renounce Christ. The tears and cries of his wife Paulina, of his children, and of his father-in-law, Felix, were sufficient to have shaken a mind not superior to all the assaults of hell. But Polyeuctus, strengthened by God, grew only the firmer in his faith, and received the sentence of death with such cheerfulness and joy, and exhorted all to renounce their idols with so much energy on the road to execution, that many were converted. He was beheaded on the 10th of January, in the persecution of Decius, or Valerian, about the year 250, or 257. The Christians buried his body in the city. Nearchus gathered his blood in a cloth, and afterwards wrote his acts. The Greeks keep his festival very solemnly: and all the Latin martyrologies mention him. There was in Melitine a famous Church of St. Polyeuctus, in the fourth age, in which St. Euthymius often prayed. There was also a very stately one in Constantinople, under Justinian, the vault of which was covered with plates of gold, in which it was the custom for men to make their most solemn oaths, as is related by St. Gregory of Tours.1 The same author informs us, in his history of the Franks,2 that the kings of France of the first race used to confirm their treaties by the name of Polyeuctus. The martyrology ascribed to saint Jerom, and the most ancient Armenian calendars, place his feast on the 7th of January, which seems to have been the day of his martyrdom. The Greeks defer his festival to the 9th of January: but it is marked on the 13th of February in the ancient martyrology, which was sent from Rome to Aquileia in the eight century, and which is copied by Ado, Usuard, and the Roman Martyrology. See his acts taken from those written by Nearchus, the saints friend, and Tillem. t. 3. p. 424. Jos. Assemani in calend. ad 9 Januarii, t. 6.