Martyrs killed in 1342
+ As young men, the brothers John, Anthony, and Eustatius converted to Christianity through the influence of Orthodox missionaries from Moscow. John served in the court of the pagan Duke Olgierd in Vilnius, Lithuania.
+ Following the death of his Christian wife, Olgierd began to sporadically persecute the Christians in his domain at the insistence of the pagan priests and his advisors.
+ John and his brothers were arrested and tortured for their refusal to eat meat on a day of abstinence and, after refusing to deny their faith each of the brothers was martyred: John was killed on April 24, Anthony on June 14, and Eustatius on December 13.
+ These three martyrs are honored collectively on April 14. Their relics are enshrined in the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius and they are honored as the patrons of the city of Vilnius. These martyrs were added to the Roman Martyrology by Blessed Pope Paul VI.
Duke Olgierd (d 1377) was succeeded by his son Jagiello (or Jogaila) who converted to Catholicism in 1386. The year after his baptism, Jagiello made Christianity the official religion of Lithuania in 1387. Jagiello’s grandson, Saint Casimir, is honored as the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.
“You who have rejected earthly honor and glory, / Valiant and honorable combatants, / You firmly and courageously suffered torments for the faith, / You have died for the life of all for the Master. / Therefore Christ also gloriously encircles you with a cloud column from heaven / And honors and crowns you with crowns from the throne of glory: / Standing before Him with the angels, pray to save our souls.”—Troparion from the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Saints John, Anthony, and Eustathius (provided by the Orthodox Church in America)
Remember your mercies, O Lord,
and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants,
for whom Christ your Son,
by the shedding of his Blood,
established the Paschal Mystery.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Collect for Good Friday)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.