Martyr à Mélitène (✝ 250)
Légionnaire romain, décapité en Arménie pour sa foi chrétienne alors qu'il n'était encore que catéchumène. Il reçut ainsi le "baptême de sang". Corneille reprit les "Actes" de son martyre pour en faire une tragédie qui est conforme à la vérité historique.
Polyeucte et Néarque: officiers de la douzième légion romaine en Arménie. Néarque était chrétien et son ami Polyeucte encore païen. La persécution devait les séparer. Mais alors la foi les unit. Ils furent arrêtés, parce qu'il était demandé aux soldats de sacrifier l'encens à l'empereur. Pauline, l'épouse de Polyeucte, le poussait à renier Jésus-Christ. Néarque et lui furent décapités. Une tragédie de Corneille perpétue ce combat de la foi.
À Mélitène en Arménie, vers 250, saint Polyeucte, martyr. Soldat obligé de sacrifier aux dieux par l’édit de l’empereur Dèce, il brisa les idoles, subit pour cela de multiples supplices et enfin, décapité, fut baptisé dans son sang.
Saint Polyeucte naquit à Mélitène en Arménie cappadocienne. Il était soldat sous l' empereur Dèce ( 249-251 ) et souffrit le martyre sous l' empereur Valérien ( 253-259 ).
Il était l' ami de Néarque à qui il promit de devenir chrétien. Après la parution des édits ordonnant aux militaires de sacrifier aux idoles, il refusa d' abjurer. Son beau-père Félix dut lui-même appliquer la sentence impériale. Il lui permit de prendre congé, avant son exécution, de ses enfants et de Pauline sa femme. Ceux-ci le supplièrent d' apostasier, mais il resta ferme dans la foi au Christ ressuscité.
Il tendit le cou à l' épée...Il est tant en Orient ( fêté le 9 janvier chez les orthodoxes ) qu' en Occident le patron des chrétiens fidèles à leurs voeux.
Sous Constantin, une église fut construite à Mélitène ( aujourd' hui en Turquie ) ainsi qu' un monastère ( martyrium ). Saint Euthyme le Grand pria sur sa tombe avant de partir pour la Palestine. Mélitène devint une grande ville chrétienne.
En 527 à Constantinople on construisit une magnifique église en son honneur. Saint Grégoire de Tours le vénérait spécialement.
Pierre Corneille écrivit en 1641 une célèbre pièce de théâtre sur la vie de ce martyr.
Polyeuctus of Melitene M (RM)
Died January 10, c. 250-259. Saint Polyeuctus, a wealthy Roman officer, was martyred at Melitene, Armenia, under Valerian. His acta, as given by Metaphrastes, are as touching as any in early Christian literature. His friend Nearchus was so zealous in his desire to lay down his life for Christ when he heard the Christian persecution was to reach the outposts of the Empire, that Polyeuctus was converted to the faith and openly professed it. He was, of course, captured and condemned to be tortured. When his tormentors were weary, they turned to argumentation to persuade him to apostatize. Most men would have been moved by the distress of their families. But tears and protestations of his wife Paulina, his children, and his father-in-law Felix were insufficient move this new Christian. Finally the sentence of death was passed by the judge, which Polyeuctus greeted with such cheerfulness and joy that many were converted as he travelled to the place of his beheading.
The Christians buried him in Melitene. Nearchus gathered his blood in a cloth, and afterwards wrote his acta. The Greeks keep his festival very solemnly, and all the Latin martyrologies mention him. Saint Euthymius often prayed in a famous church of St. Polyeuctus at Melitene. The stately church bearing his name in Constantinople, under Justinian, the vault of which was covered with plates of gold, in which it was the custom for men to make their most solemn oaths, as is related by Saint Gregory of Tours. The same author informs us, in his history of the Franks, that the kings of France confirmed their treaties by the name of Polyeuctus.
Saint Jerome's Martyrology and the most ancient Armenian calendars place Polyeuctus's feast on January 7; while the Greeks celebrate in on January 9. Nevertheless, his feast is marked on February 13 in the ancient martyrology, which was sent from Rome to Aquileia in the eighth century, and which is copied by Ado, Usuard, and the Roman Martyrology. Corneille has used some elements of the martyr's story in his tragedy Polyeucte (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Pagan soldier in the 12th imperial Roman legion assigned to Armenia in the 3rd century. Friend of Saint Nearchus who brought him to the faith. Ordered to offer a sacrifice of incense to the emperor as a god, Polyeucte refused. Martyr.
Martyr Polyeuctus of Melitene, in Armenia
Saint Polyeuctus was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletine. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeuctus, though he led a virtuous life, remained a pagan.
When the persecution against Christians began, Nearchos said to Polyeuctus, “Friend, we shall soon be separated, for they will take me to torture, and you alas, will renounce your friendship with me.” Polyeuctus told him that he had seen Christ in a dream, Who took his soiled military cloak from him and dressed him in a radiant garment. “Now,” he said, “I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”
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.
His father-in-law, the magistrate Felix, who was responsible for enforcing the imperial edict, was horrified at what St Polyeuctus had done and declared that he had to die for this. “Go, bid farewell to your wife and children,” said Felix. Paulina came and tearfully entreated her husband to renounce Christ. His father-in-law Felix also wept, but St Polyeuctus remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ.
With joy he bent his head beneath the sword of the executioner and was baptized in his own blood. Soon, when the Church of Christ in the reign of St Constantine had triumphed throughout all the Roman Empire, a church was built at Meletine in honor of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus. Many miracles were worked through the intercession of St Polyeuctus. In this very church the parents of St Euthymius the Great (January 20) prayed fervently for a son. The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuctus.
St Polyeuctus was also venerated by St Acacius, Bishop of Meletine (March 31), a participant in the Third Ecumenical Council, and a great proponent of Orthodoxy. In the East, and also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuctus is venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.
The Polyeucte Overture of French composer Paul Dukas is only one of many pieces of classical music inspired by the saints. It premiered in January of 1892. French dramatist Pierre Corneille has also written a play, Polyeucte (1642), based on the martyr’s life.
Voir aussi : http://17emesiecle.free.fr/Polyeucte.html