|Saints' work: hanging around and lying down on the job.|
If I seem to make short work of their story, it is because it has been so often repeated with other martyrs. The persecutions during the reign of Emperor Diocletian were both the most numerous and the best documented (of all the Roman persecutions). The Romans feared and hated Christianity, but they saved their worst punishments for those former polytheists who converted, especially those who had been inspired by the courage of recently arrested Christians.
A civil official named Eustratius and a priest named Auxentius were busted for faith in Armenia. They were tortured in an attempt to make them apostatize (salt and vinegar in the whipping wounds -- no kidding), but all that accomplished was the inspiration of one spectator, Eugenius, to join them. They were passed along to Nicopolis, but on the way a layman named Mandarius also got busted. Even worse, one of the guards (Orestes), converted.
Mandarius must have said the wrong thing en route, because he never made it to the provincial capital for judgment. One day during the journey they hung him by his feet from a tree limb and stuck red hot spikes into him until he died. Auxentius too did not survive the journey; he's the one getting his head lopped off. When they arrived, the survivors were summarily and publicly executed. Eustratius was burned in an oven. Eugenius was beaten to death with a cane (more flaying than beating, I suppose), and Orestes was roasted on a red hot rack.
The picture above seems to tell it a little differently. It looks like one guy was crucified on a tree while another had his hands chopped off, but maybe that's artistic license. Or maybe the accounts I read were taking poetic license. Hard knowing, but the courage of the martyrs was demonstrated well enough however they died.