Feast Day of St. Eustace and companions!

Saint Eustace (Latinized Eustachius or Eustathius, Greek Εὐστάθιος Πλακίδας Eustathios Plakidas) is revered as a Christian martyr. According to legend, he was martyred in AD 118, at the command of emperor Hadrian. Eustace was a pagan Roman general, who converted to Christianity after he had a vision of the cross while hunting. He lost all his wealth, was separated from his wife and sons, and went into exile in Egypt. Called back to lead the Roman army by emperor Trajan, Eustace was happily reunited with his family and restored to high social standing, but after the death of Trajan, he and his family were martyred under Hadrian for refusing to sacrifice to pagan Roman gods.
Eustace was venerated in the Byzantine Church from at least the 7th century. His veneration is attested for the Latin Church for the 8th century, but his rise to popularity in Western Europe happened in the high medieval period, during the 12th to 13th centuries. There are many versions and adaptations of his legend, in prose, in verse, and in the form of plays, in Latin, French and other languages. The saint, and scenes from his legend, were also frequently depicted in the figurative arts.
His feast day, both in Eastern and Western tradition, is on 20 September. Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates St. Eustace on 1 October.
The original tradition of the saint's passion is Greek, the oldest surviving version (BHG 641) was composed at some point during the 5th to 7th centuries. Already in the Greek version, the later saint is a pagan general (στρατηλάτης) under Trajan, called Plakidas. The Greek text also has all of the main elements found in the medieval Western accounts. Plakidas converted after he had a vision of a cross while hunting a stag and heard a divine voice prophesying his misfortune. Plakidas was baptized and took the name Eustathios ("steadfast"), his wife Tatiana took the baptismal name Theopiste. Their two sons were named Agapios and Theopistos.
Eustathios lost his estates and his wealth, and he and his family emigrated to Egypt. They could not pay for the passage, hence the ship's captain demanded to keep Theopiste for himself. Eustathios escaped with his two sons by swimming. But later, when crossing a river, his sons were taken by wild animals. Eustathios believed them dead, but they were saved.
Years later, Trajan called Eustathios back to Rome to fight the barbarians, and Eustathios once again took the rank of general and raised an army. Among the soldiers were, unbeknownst to him, his two sons. After defeating the barbarians, the general and his staff stayed in the house of an old woman. Agapios and Theopistos recognized each other. The old woman turned out to be their mother, Theopiste, who managed to escape from the ship's captain before he could dishonour her. She recognized her husband, and the entire family was reunited.
When Trajan was succeeded by Hadrian, the new emperor asked his general to sacrifice to the gods, and when Eustathios refused, he threw him and his family to the lions, but the wild animals lay down at their feet. Therefore, Hadrian ordered them to be killed in a brazen bull. The bodies of the martyrs were recovered in secrecy by Christians and buried «in a well-known place
A Vita in French prose was composed around the middle of the 13th century. In this version, the narrative begins with Placidus (Eustace's name before he was baptized) out hunting. He follows a deer into some woods and becomes separated from the group of hunters; the deer turns towards him. Placidus is then awestruck by a vision where he sees the cross between the antlers of the deer, and in that moment, he is commanded by the voice of God to be baptized along with his family on that very night by the Bishop of Rome. He is baptized and has his name changed to Eustace, and then he receives another vision from a voice warning him of future trials for him and his family. They lose their goods, servants, livestock, and social status. They attempt to travel by boat, but cannot afford the voyage. Eustace and his two sons Agapius and Theopistus are then removed from the boat and separated from Eustace's wife Theopista. They arrive at a river where Eustace has to carry them across one at a time. After successfully taking one to the other side, Eustace attempts to collect the other. However, both of his sons are taken by animals while he is crossing the river: one by a lion and the other by a wolf. Unknown to Eustace, his sons are saved and raised independently.
In the French tradition, Eustace then worked for fifteen years as a guard protecting fields until he was approached by two envoys of Roman emperor Trajan who were sent to persuade him to return to Rome and repel an uprising; Eustace complied. There in Rome, he was reinstated his original rank of general, led an army, and coincidentally, achieved victory in the home country of the captain who abducted his wife Theopista. Trading life stories after the battle, two soldiers discover they were the brothers abducted by animals, and overhearing them, Theopista recognizes her husband Eustace. Eustace and his family then return to Rome to celebrate at a victory dinner under the new Roman emperor Hadrian who was less tolerant towards Christians. Following the dinner, Hadrian requested Eustace and his family to make an offering to pagan gods; They refused. Eustace and his family were then thrown in a den of lions, but the lions did not touch them. Eustace and his family were then put into a brazen bull. They died, but their bodies were untouched by the flames.