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St. Eleutherius

Facts

Death: ~308

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Eleutherius served as a chamberlain in the court of the eastern Roman emperor Galerius at Constantinople. Having secretly received Christian instruction, he resolved to be baptized. With this intent he excused himself from court, claiming to need a change of air, and withdrew to his country estate in Bithynia (northwest Turkey). After receiving baptism, he secretly constructed an underground church on his property, making it accessible only through an opening inside a well. Upon returning to Constantinople, Eleutherius was asked by the emperor why he had been away so long. The chamberlain replied that the fresh air of his villa had been healthful for him. But soon a servant of Eleutherius betrayed the secret of his master's conversion to the emperor. Pretending not to know, Galerius asked to visit Eleutherius' villa. At the estate, the emperor spotted the well, and suspecting its use, sent an attendant down a rope to inspect it. The attendant discovered the church, containing a splendid altar and many lit lamps. Immediately, Galerius ordered Eleutherius to be beheaded.

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