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E06583: The Greek Martyrdom of *Fausta (martyr of Cyzicus, S02093) and her companions Euilasios and Maximinos is written, probably in Cyzicus (north-west Asia Minor), and possibly at some point in the 6th-7th century.

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posted on 21.09.2018, 00:00 by Nikolaos
Martyrdom of Fausta (BHG 658a)

Summary:

§ 1: Fausta, a girl in Cyzicus whose parents had raised her as a Christian, is orphaned at the age of thirteen. Hearing of her virtuous life, the emperor Maximianos sends the courtier [πρῶτος τοῦ παλατίου, lit. ‘first of the palace’] Euilasios to either persuade her to sacrifice to the pagan gods or to kill her. Euilasios attempts to force the little girl to sacrifice, but she refuses steadfastly to do so.

§ 2: Euilasios has the girl shaved, hung up and tortured by scraping. Fausta prays to the heavens, and at once a bolt of lightning strikes, killing many and frightening Euilasios. He questions her about her 'magic tricks', but she answers by requesting that Euilasios 'make an image with my figure in it; and bring all the torture devices and let them too be drawn in the image' (ποίησον εἰκόνα ἔχουσαν χαρακτῆρα τὸν ἐμόν· καὶ φέρε πάντα τὰ κολαστήρια καὶ γραφήτω καὶ αὐτὰ ἐν τῇ εἰκόνι). When the image is completed, Fausta affirms that when she is tortured, her body will suffer no more than the image. Euilasios has her enclosed in a casket and orders it sawn [in two], but Fausta merely sings psalms while the torturers lose their strength without being able to hurt her. They report to Euilasios that they have lost six saws to no effect, and even fire could not harm the saint.

§ 3: Euilasios pleads with Fausta to tell him the truth about her: he is eighty years old and has never seen anything like this. Fausta gives him a sermon about the truth of God, and Euilasios, touched by the holy spirit and converted in his heart, releases Fausta from torture. However, one of Euilasios' servants informs on him to the emperor.

§ 4: The emperor summons Maximinos the prefect, and sends him to Cyzicus in turn. Maximinos confronts Euilasios about his conversion, and the latter affirms that the prefect too will soon come to know God. Maximinos has him tortured as well, but Euilasios simply prays to God. The torture is renewed with burning lamps, but Euilasios asks Fausta to pray for him, which she does.

§ 5: Maximinos summons Fausta to him and rebukes her for the conversion of Euilasios. Fausta replies that she hopes that Maximinos too can be converted. He has her tied up and nails driven into her ankles, but she is unmoved; Maximinos summons the taxis [τάξις, often used to denote a magistrate's retinue of officials], asking for their help in devising something more effective. One of them, named Klaudios, suggests throwing her to the beasts. Fausta is duly brought naked to the arena and a number of beasts are unleashed, but they merely lie meekly at her feet.

§ 6: The prefect now orders Fausta tied by her feet and dragged about naked, but she prays to God and a cloud descends to shield her from view. Another aspiring torturer, Eusebios, receives permission to act, and with the help of a smith has the martyr's head, forehead, face, chest and shins pierced with nails. Fausta prays for Maximinos to convert.

§ 7: Frustrated, Eusebios orders a great frying-pan to brought and heated up with pitch inside, and for Fausta and Euilasios to be thrown into it. The saints sing psalms, the fire dies, and the pan cools down. Seeing their faith, Maximinos too prays to God that he be allowed to join them in martyrdom. The heavens open and the Son of God appears with all the angels, archangels and the righteous. Maximinos prays for forgiveness, makes the sign of the cross and throws himself into the pan. Fausta rejoices in his conversion, and a voice from the heavens calls them to God. The three then surrender their souls, on 6 Peritios [according to the Macedonian calendar – cf. 6 February in BHG 658].

Text: Halkin 1984, 247-252.
Summary: N. Kälviäinen.

History

Evidence ID

E06583

Saint Name

Fausta and Evilasius, martyrs of Cyzicus : S02093

Saint Name in Source

Φαῦστα, Εὐιλάσιος, Μαξιμῖνος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

305

Activity not after

311

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Cyzicus

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

Cyzicus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle at martyrdom and death Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Miracles causing conversion Miracles experienced by the saint Miracle with animals and plants

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Officials Angels Torturers/Executioners Animals

Source

The Martyrdom of Fausta is preserved in a total of four recensions (BHG 658, 658a, 658b and 658c, of which at least 658-658a are possibly late antique), as per our current knowledge in a total of 12 manuscripts (10th to 17th centuries): http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/15596/ http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/15597/ http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/16327/ http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/15598/ Of these, BHG 658a has been edited by Halkin (see Bibliography), while the others remain unedited. This text is an early Greek martyrdom account bearing some or all of the hallmarks of the 'epic' subgenre (Martyrdoms characterised by a relative detachment from historical reality and often including extravagant, even fantastical, elements; see H. Delehaye, Les Passions des martyres et les genres littéraires, Bruxelles, 1966 (2nd ed.), 171-226).

Discussion

The text seems most probably to reflect a minor local cult of Cyzicus on the Hellespont (the only city mentioned in the Martyrdom), of which nothing is now known from sources other than literary (hagiography, synaxaria/martyrologia). Some form of it must have been in circulation for some time before the composition of Bede's Martyrology (725/731), which summarises the same legend, known to Bede presumably through a Latin version (E05624). The question might be posed whether the episode of the image (eikon) of Fausta made by the torturers reflects an actual religious icon which was available to the faithful when the Martyrdom was composed. It can be noted that there is no mention in the text of her and her co-martyrs' relics, contrary to the normal practice of 'epic' Martyrdoms, and that such an icon might conceivably have functioned as a relic in their stead.

Bibliography

Text: Halkin, F., “Le martyre de sainte Fausta,” Analecta Bollandiana 102 (1984), 247-252.

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