Monday, May 26, 2008

St. Eustace

When I was walking through Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, one statue really caught my eye. Knowing that this was a gothic themed church, while I was looking at this intriguing statue I assumed the numerous deer heads around the picture of a man represented something gothic. I took many pictures of the statue, and i looked up what it represented.

I found that the statue was dedicated to St. Eustace. The deer heads are a symbol of him.

St. Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus. He was hunting a deer one day somewhere near Rome, when he saw a vision of Jesus through the deer's antlers. Him and his family converted and were baptized very soon after this incident. After this, St. Eustace went through of series of faith testing life events. His money was stolen, his servants died of disease, his wife was captured, and his sons were taken away by a wolf and lion. Some consider this legend, some consider it truth, which is why his sainthood is questioned. Eustace did not lose his faith, which is what he is most commemorated for. He was later reunited with his family, but when he was ordered to make a pagan sacrifice, he refused and him and his family were burned to death.

St. Eustace feast day was celebrated on September 20th. But because there is not much evidence of his existence, his commemoration date was removed in 1969. He is still known as the patron saint of hunters, and one of the patron saints of Madrid Spain. There is a church named after him in Paris, and an island named after him in the Netherlands.

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