Eustachius und Theopista

Vita di S. Eustachio: Front page

Eustachius und Theopista: Frontispiece

Eustachius und Theopista. Eine Geschichte aus der christlichen Vorzeit, für die Christen unserer Zeit erzählt von Christoph Schmid, Domcapitular des Bisthums Augsburg im Königreiche Bayern. Neueste vermehrte Ausgabe, mit des Verfassers Biographie und Bildniß. - Graz : Georg und Carl Tanzer, 1830.

Austrian National Library, shelfmark: 309.488-B.Alt-Mag 

After valiantly fighting the Parthians, a Roman officer is visited by an apparition of Christ and converts to Christendom with his wife and sons; leaving his country for Egypt, he is separated from his family and, at the emperor Trajan’s request, resumes his military career; miraculously reunited with his wife and children, all four of them suffer martyrdom under Hadrian. - Obviously, the legend of S. Eustace (Eustachius) provides material enough for an enthralling narrative. Giovanni Battista Manzini chooses it as the topic of his „romanzo spirituale“ Della Vita di S. Eustachio Martire, first published in Bologna in 1631. Fourteen Italian editions in 40 years and several contemporary translations into German, English, French and Spanish prove the success of Manzini’s spiritual novel. (The department holds a copy of the 1635 Venice edition, shelfmark: *43.M.116.Alt-Prunk.) 


Christoph Schmid (1768-1854), canon of Augsburg cathedral, teacher and successful writer of youth literature, made Eustace and his wife the main characters of his novel Eustachius und Theopista. In the preface, he enumerates several „learned and famous historians“ like Leo Allatius, Athanasius Kircher or Daniel Papebroch, whose „opposing views“ on Eustace’s history he tries to balance in his work; his chief intention, however, is to „edify the Christian reader“. Unlike Manzini, who dwells on the spiritual state of the hero, Schmid relies on the vivid narrative style that had made him so popular with his pupils and with the listeners to his sermons. 


The hand-coloured engraving on the frontispiece to Eustachius und Theopista shows the conversion of the saint during a stag hunt: Placidus, who later adopts the name Eustace at his baptism, beholds a radiant cross between the stag’s antlers and hears the voice of the Lord. 

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last update 8/24/2012