The holy martyr Euplus (the second half of the 3rd century AD – 304 ?) was a priest who suffered for the Christian faith in Catania in Sicily, Italy) under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian.

Historical accounts of Euplus’s martyrdom have survived fragmentally only in his court proceedings file.

According to this record, Euplus’s was charged of owning a copy of the Gospel banned by Emperor Diocletian. The judges attempted to find out who had given him the scroll and whether he knew if it was forbidden to read. In response, St. Euplus openly professed the Christian faith saying that the Gospel is the law of God he serves. The verdict that had been handed down by the court after the first hearings didn’t survive. At the second session that took place three months later Euplus confirmed what he had said earlier. For that he was subjected to torture. Euplus was tortured, sentenced to execution and beheaded.

In Byzantine and Russian medieval art the martyr Euplus is depicted as a young man wearing deacon vestments for his hagiographies report that the saint was a deacon. One of the earliest depictions of the saint dated 11th century survived in the St. Sophia Church at Ohrid. The wall paintings of the 1040s at St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev also feature saint deacons, among whom can be St. Euplous but the inscriptions didn’t survive making it impossible to identify the saint. The saint was depicted both individually and in a group of selected saints. To commemorate the signing of the peace treaty with Novgorod on 11 August 1471 (O.S.) under which the Novgorodian Republic undertook to break relations with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and pay a huge contribution to the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan III in 1471 ordered to erect the Church of Archdeacon Euplus (demolished in 1925). The church most likely had its own temple icon of St. Euplus. In some cases, the depictions of Archdeacon Euplous was placed on the iconostasis gates such as a mid-18th century icon of St. Euplus from the Clerical Historico-Archeological Museum of the Kostroma eparchy.

The holy martyr Euplus is commemorated on August 24 (August 11, O.S.).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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