Saints with Funny Names

October: Sts. Eulampius, Charitina, and Stachys

"The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs" (about 1423–24) by Fra Angelico. Public Domain.
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Editor’s Note: Each month, senior writer Susie Lloyd profiles Eastern-rite Catholic saints on CatholicDigest.com. This month in Saints with Funny Names learn about Sts. Eulampius the martyr, Charitina the martyr, and Stachys the Apostle. 

What do Eulampius the martyr, Charitina the martyr, and Stachys the Apostle all have in common besides funny names? They are all October saints. Never heard of them? Neither had I, though I have been staring at them for the last 20 years. Literally. Their names hang at eye level on the calendar we bring home each year from a nearby Eastern-rite Catholic parish.

You see, we’re multicultural Catholics in our family. We have been practicing our Catholic faith in the rites of East and West for many years. St. John Paul II would say we are breathing with both lungs. In his January 1988 apostolic letter, Euntes in Mundum, which celebrated 1,000 years of eastern Christianity, St. John Paul II said:

The two forms of the great tradition of the Church, the Eastern and the Western, the two forms of culture, complement each other like the two “lungs” of a single body (12). 

            That means that if we honor the October saints such as Francis of Assisi, Thérèse of Lisieux, and John Paul II himself, it only makes sense to honor Eulampius the martyr, Charitina the martyr, and Stachys the Apostle. They are all kicking around in heaven together, after all. But first, we need to find out who they are.

Two for the price of one — or is that 200?

            St. Eulampius shares his funny name with his sister, St. Eulampia. You may be wondering why they have the same name. Did they have parents with no imagination? Were they twins? My guess is that it was neither. When you take the name apart, you discover that it means “one who shines light.” (See the word lamp in there?) It’s not funny at all; it’s downright radiant. My theory is that this brother and sister act ended up with those names because of their martyrdom.

Things like that have happened before in Church history. Consider the holy woman, Veronica, whose name comes from the words for “true icon” which refer to the imprint of Our Lord’s countenance on her veil. What we know about the martyrdom of Eulampius and Eulampia is that there were hundreds of witnesses and that of those, 200 were inspired to die for Christ as well. Here’s how it happened.

The year was 310 A.D. The place, Nicomedia, in present-day Turkey. The government, Roman. You know what that means — persecution. Emperor Maximinus Daia posts an edict giving due notice of said persecution. Christians flee the city and hide in caves. Eulampius, who is just a youth, goes to buy bread for them. He sees the edict posted on a wall, laughs at it, tears it up, and gets himself arrested.

The Romans torture him. Eulampia comes running to his side. She embraces him and is sentenced to the same fate. They are beaten, then thrown into boiling pitch, then into a furnace but they survive. Finally, Eulampius is beheaded and Eulampia dies of her wounds. By then, hundreds have heard their testimony and seen their miracles. They believe in Christ and die for him as well. Here is an icon of their martyrdom. Warning: Graphic imagery ahead.

Image from omhksea.org.

Start a new trend in baby names

If ever a name deserved to make a comeback, Charitina is it. Not only does it have a pretty ring to it, and a pile of nickname possibilities, the saint herself makes the perfect patroness for any little girl. She reminds me a little of Cinderella — kind, sensible, and as lovely as her name. She was an orphan, too.

Fortunately though, she was not raised by a hostile stepmother and made to do all the work. Actually, it was the reverse. She was a servant first, and then her master, a Christian named Claudius, decided to bring her up as his own daughter. He must have done something right because Charitina was a good influence on all her friends.

Many converted to the Catholic faith through her. This got the attention of the Emperor Diocletian, in the year 304. Yes, another Roman. He sentenced her to a series of torments. These she put up with until she was told that a gang of rapists was on the way. Charitina begged Our Lord to spare her and she was immediately released from a life dominated by nasty Romans and taken to heaven to her Prince.

Say hello to my good friend Stachys for me

St. Stachys was a friend of St. Paul, in fact, a beloved friend. St. Paul sends him a special greeting in his letter to the Romans:

Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys (16:9).

Stachys is not one of the 12 original apostles but he was chosen by Our Lord himself, as one of the 70 to assist the Twelve Apostles in their teaching.

After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit (Luke 10:1).

St. Stachys was eventually ordained bishop of Byzantium by St. Andrew. He worked tirelessly for his flock until he died, quite peacefully for those days, no doubt remembering that exciting day Our Lord blessed him and sent him forth.

For more Saints with Funny Names, check back next month. Meanwhile, take a nice deep breath.

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