SS. ANTONY, JOHN, AND EUSTACHIUS, MM.
THEY were three noblemen of Lithuania, and the two
first brothers, commonly called in that country, Kukley, Mihley, and
Nizilo. They were all three chamberlains to Olgerd, the great duke of
Lithuania, who governed that country from the year 1329 to 1381,1 and
was father of the famous Jagello. They also attended on the great
duchess, and were worshippers of fire, according to the idolatrous
superstition of that country, till they had the happiness to be
converted to the Christian faith, and baptized by a priest called
Nestorius. For refusing to eat forbidden meats on fast-days, they
were cast into prison, and, after many trials, put to death by order
of Olgerd, the great duke; John, the eldest of them, on the 24th of
April, his brother Antony on the 14th of June, Eustachius, who was
then young, on the 13th of December. This last had suffered many
other torments before his execution, having been beaten with clubs,
had his legs broken, and the hair and skin of his head violently torn
off, because he would not suffer his hair to be shaved, according to
the custom of the heathens. They suffered at Vilna, about the year
1342, and were buried in the church of the Holy Trinity, of the
Russian-Greek rite, united in communion to the Roman Catholic church.
Their bodies still remain in that church, which is served by Basilian
monks; but their heads were translated to the cathedral. The great
oak tree on which they were hanged had long been the usual place of
execution of malefactors; but, after their martyrdom, the Christians
obtained a grant of it from the prince, and built a church upon the
spot. These martyrs were ordered to be honored among the saints by
Alexius, patriarch of Kiow, of the Catholic communion. Their feast is
kept at Vilna on the 14th of April, and they are regarded as the
particular patrons of that city. See Kulcimus, in Specim. p. 12, and
Albertus Wijuk Kojalowicz, in his Miscellanea rerum ad statum Eccles.
in magno Lithuaniæ Ducatu pertinentium. Henschenius, t. 2, Apr.
p. 265. Jos. Assemani, in Kalend. Univ. t. 6, p. 254, ad 14 Apr.