Saint Polyeuctus (Polyeuctes, Polyeuktos) of Melitene (d. January 10, 259) is an ancient Roman saint. Christian tradition states that he was a wealthy Roman army officer who was martyred at Melitene, Armenia, under Valerian.

Symeon Metaphrastes writes that, moved by the zeal of his friend Saint Nearchus, Polyeuctus had openly converted to Christianity. "Enflamed with zeal, St Polyeuctus went to the city square, and tore up the edict of Decius which required everyone to worship idols. A few moments later, he met a procession carrying twelve idols through the streets of the city. He dashed the idols to the ground and trampled them underfoot."

He was tortured by the authorities and ignored the tears and protestations of his wife Paulina, his children, and his father-in-law Felix. He was beheaded.


He was buried at Melitene, and a church was dedicated to him there. Christian tradition states that the parents of Euthymius the Great prayed for a son at the church of St. Polyeuctus in Melitene.

A massive church dedicated to him was built at Constantinople by Anicia Juliana in 524-527. The excavations undertaken in the 1960s revealed that, at the time of Justinian's ascension to the throne, the basilica was the largest in Constantinople and that it featured some remarkably ostentatious display of wealth, such as gilded reliefs of peacocks, as well as much oriental detail. His feast day is February 13 in the Catholic calendar. In the Eastern Orthodox liturgics, his feast falls on January 9. His feast day was January 7 in the ancient Armenian calendars. Polyektus is the patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.

Cultural references

Pierre Corneille, inspired by the account of Polyeuctus' martyrdom, used elements from the saint's story in his tragedy Polyeucte (1642). In 1878 it was adapted into an opera by Charles Gounod, with the assistance of the librettist Jules Barbier. Other works based on the play include a ballet by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1679), and the opera Poliuto (1838) by Donizetti (adapted with Scribe as Les martyrs). Paul Dukas wrote The Polyeucte Overture, which premiered in January 1892.

External links

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