Now, generally, I have a tendency to lump together into a large, hazy, but still vaguely glorious lump, all the martyr stories, especially the ones that end in "and companions." I know that's terrible, but I admit I have trouble keeping most of them straight in my mind, there were so many! And, honestly, after so many years of reading Butler's Lives of the Saints to the children, pretty much every day, you'd think I'd remember this story! But somehow it slipped by me. I mean the real story. There's one visual scene about deer antlers and a cross I remembered somewhat, but somehow the true story, the epic tale of valor and tragedy and victory and defeat and final triumph eluded me until today.
Here's the story in a nutshell:
Eustachius was a highly respected officer in the Roman army under Emperor Trajan (Ok, so now you should start hearing the first slow drumbeat of ominous music... The names Trajan or Diocletian, especially, spell doom in Butler's...). Our Lord chose to reveal Himself and the truth of the Faith to Eustachius through the image of Himself crucified in the antlers of a deer. I can only assume that this was the method most sure to get this man's attention, and it truly did.
Eustachius and his wife and children all converted, which at this time was not a politically correct thing to do, of course. The family lost everything due to this decision; they were even forcibly separated from each other. Eustachius, once a proud Roman officer was reduced to tending crops for his survival.