|Two swords -- one kickass saint|
Mercurius (Philopateer's christian name) joined the Roman army and distinguished himself as an able soldier. He rose quickly through the ranks. Michael the Archangel appeared to him and offered him a sword, saying that he would be given victory, suffering, and death by God. As depicted, Mercurius fought with two swords -- one from God and one from Caesar -- leading the troops to victory and personally killing the enemy king.
The Emperor Decius heard about this and promoted Mercurius. One account says he got the title Stratelates (general, master of the soldiers) but another says he became Supreme Commander of All Roman Armies. The story gets a little predictable here, so I will be brief.
Decius invited Mercurius to the sacrifice to Artemis. Mercurius tried to dodge the ceremony without being rude, but eventually had to confess his Christianity. He was tortured brutally by the troops, but healed nightly by an angel. Weary of the demonstration of Christian devotion and the power of God, Decius gave the death warrant. Mercurius had a vision of Jesus himself offering a welcome, so Mercurius raced to the soldiers and begged them to carry out the order immediately, pausing only to ask God to forgive them.
|Take that, Julian! Thanks for the spear, Lakhmids!|
No living person is given credit for the kill. Julian's surgeon said the wound was consistent with a Lakhmid auxilliaries' spear rather than a Roman one. And yet, the Sassanids were not fighting nearby and rumors of a Roman assassin were without any credible evidence. Later, folks figured out that Saint Mercurius had a heavenly commission to kill Julian so that a Christian emperor, one who would restore the Faith's position in the Empire, could be brought to the throne.