Early Portuguese Martyrs Killed During Roman Persecutions
|"Well, here we are. Where's the eculeus?"|
They were tortured in alarming ways and finally killed. Their bodies were left for the scavenging beasts, but they refused to eat the saints. The prefect ordered them thrown into the sea, but the boat that dumped them had not yet reached shore before the holy corpses were found on the beach. Today, their relics are in Lisbon.
Not to be dismissive, but hagiomajor's full of stories like that. (Ouch, Maj! A little respect, if you please.)
However, their story can be enlightening to us in at least two ways. First, let's look at their names. Maxima -- speaks for itself, right? Verissimus -- the most truthful / greatest truth / highest truth? And Julia. Just plain old Julia. Can you guess which one was the middle child?
Among the many tortures to which they were subjected was the eculeus, also spelled equuleus. Although no solid description of the device exists, the name horse suggests it was something on which a person was restrained, perhaps limiting their breathing, while other nasty things could be done to them. It has been likened to the crux (cross), which seems to have been used in interrogating slaves as well as in executions.
The painting above, from Lisbon, shows the arrival of the three saints in Lisbon. Obviously, the Renaissance painter, Garcia Fernandes, knew little about Roman era attire.