Eustace from Apsilia

In the days of Emperor Justinian II a child was born in the family of the Apsil’s ruler. Apsilia was an ancient country, situated between Sebastopolis and Ziganis. The name of Apsils’ruler was Marin. He was a patrician. The birth of his son was happiness for him. On the eighth day Marin baptized his son in the ancient temple. The temple was located in his main fortress Tsibilium, its another name was Sideron (“Iron fortress”). Both of buildings were built in the days of Justinian II. The tribe of Apsils was baptized. They were baptized by bishop Constantine. He was the first bishop of Tsibilium. The child got the Christian name in honor of Saint Eustace. Saint Eustace was a gallant warrior, became a martyr in the days of Emperor Trajan. The parents of Eustace couldn’t know that their son would become not only a gallant warrior but a martyr. He lived in the days of idoltry and his love to Jesus Christ killed him. Saint Eustace paid a tribute to his Lord. Jesus Christ was a spiritual father, a precious advisor for him. When Apsils were in danger he constantly prayed to his Lord. Eustace Apsilian built a temple in honor of Saint Eustace. Apsils and Marine’s son revered Saint Eustace.
 
They told many amazing stories about the Saint’s life. One of their favourite stories was about Saint Eustace in the hunting. During the hunting Saint Eustace saw the Savior.
 
Once upon a time Saint Eustace went hunting. His servant who was looking for an animal told him that there was a herd of deer in the forest. The servants of Eustace and Eustace himself were ready hunting. The herd of deer appeared. Eustace saw a powerful and fast deer in the head of the herd. The deer was looking into Eustace’s eyes. It seemed the animal was waiting for a battle with Eustace. Eustace released the reins and rushed to pursuit the deer. The servants followed Eustace but soon they were tired and stopped. Eustace wasn’t going to give up. In several minutes the deer got to the highest cliff and looked into Eustace’s eyes bravely. Eustace was thinking about how to get to the cliff. Suddenly Eustace saw an illuminated face of the Lord between the horns of the deer. He couldn’t believe but he saw Jesus Christ. Then Eustace heard a voice: ” I am Jesus Christ, I am glad for your kindness. This is unfair that such treasure as this deer is in the dimness of idoltry. I descended from heaven because I love people and want to be your Saviour. Eustace was astonished and shocked. He could utter no word. In a few minutes he realized what had happened to him and asked: “Who are you?” The illuminated face repeated the same: “I am Jesus Christ, I created the world and saved it”. The Lord told about his life, death and resurrection.
 
After the miraculous meeting Eustace with his family was baptized. But Eustace had to go through many tests in faith. The Lord prepared tests not only for Saint Eustace but for Eustace Apsilian too. The destructive plague struck his family. The similar tragedy came to the land of Apsils. It was the invasion of Saracen.
 
Theophanes the Confessor wrote in his manuscripts about the invasion of Saracen hordes in Apsilia, 738. Saracen hordes besieged the main fortification of Apsils – Sideron. Eustace did his best but he couldn’t win the hordes of Saracen. Saracen captured the ruler of Apsils. They took Eustace to the Mesopotamian city of Harran. Eustace from Apsilia spent his last days far from his motherland. Theophanes the Confessor wrote in his manuscripts that the Arabic ruler used to beat the captured Christians. One of those poor people was Eustace from Apsilia. In spite of all tortures which Eustace went through he didn’t deny the faith in Jesus Christ. Eustace from Apsilia became a martyr. According to the Theophanes the Confessor’s manuscripts the relics of Eustace were kept in one of the Christian churches of Harran. The relics of the martyr made many healings. Soon the people of his motherland knew about his death and the miraculous healings. The Abkhaz church got an independence and it revered the Martyr from Apsilia (in modern-day one of the districts of Abkhazia) – Eustace. The memorial day of Saint Eustace and Eustace from Apsilia is celebrated in the same day, on September 20 by Orthodox Churches on the Old Calendar, October 3 on the New Calendar.