|Eutychius (lower right corner) as Correggio imagines his death|
So Bishop Redemptus is out on the circuit, preaching words of comfort in times of trouble, and has an idea. He will hold a vigil at the tomb of Saint Eutychius, one of those guys who died in a batch of thirty or so. Pirates might have gotten him, or maybe he's just another victim of Diocletian. Not much is known about him, but his reputation got a little boost when Redemptus bunked on his bones.
I don't disapprove of vigils. but I don't think you should try to force a saint's will. Hey, Eutychius! Let's go camping and you tell me a secret so I can reveal it, okay? Maybe that's not what he was doing, but any resulting revelation must surely be viewed suspiciously. And why Eutychius? Is he just a blank wall onto which Redemptus could project what he wanted? Or maybe the Bishop figured that Eutychius, being less famous (less busy?) than Peter, Paul, the BVM, and the other Big Dogs, would be more likely to respond. I don't know what he was thinking -- maybe somebody just double-dog-dared him to spend all night at a grave because he'd be bragging that he feared no evil because the Lord was his shepherd.
Anyway, sometime past midnight, the fearless bishop heard someone ask him if he was awake. He answered yes, but the guy asked again, and again. If it was a test of patience, Redemptus passed because he calmly answered yes three times. Then the saint (it was Eutychius talking) told him Finis venit univsersae carnis -- the end of all flesh is coming. Just for symmetry, he told him this three times.
Redemptus believed him and launched a series of apocalyptic sermons, whipping the local population up into an End Times Frenzy. Or at least a panic. Every thunderstorm was a sign of the Last Days. I think if four guys had ridden into Ferentino on different colored horses, the whole town would have dropped dead of faith-induced heart attacks.
If Saint Eutychius had been punking him (a distinct possibility in my mind), then Redemptus got lucky. The subsequent invasion of Italy by the Lombards may not have been the end of all flesh, but it must have felt like it to the Italians. Thus, he looked like a true prophet just long enough to be venerated locally and backdoor his way into the Canon. Redemptus himself was probably killed by the Lombards, though his pal Pope Greg didn't bother to say how his curtain was drawn.
In a reinterpretation that would have made me proud (had I thought of it), some unnamed Italian writer tells Redemptus' story and remarks, "If the end of the world should suddenly annunziarsi, we would find ourselves having to answer the question that was posed to the old Bishop, "Elected One, are you awake?'" [Translation by Google]
Yeah, I'll be ready... ready to be punk'd by Saint Eutychius the Joker.