Saint Eustace is the patron saint of hunters and firefighters.  His birth name was Placid , and he was a commander in the Roman army under Emperor Trajan.  Though he and his wife and two sons were all pagans, they gave much alms to poor.  One day when Placid was out hunting with his servants they came upon a herd of harts.  Placid pursued the grandest of the harts while his servants chased the others.  Finally the hart leaped upon a high rock and Placid saw a vision of a crucifix between the its horns.  Through the stag our Lord told Placid that as a reward for his charity he would be enlightened as to the true faith.

Placid explained all this to his wife and sons, and they all went to the bishop of Rome who baptized them.  There Placid took the name Eustace, which means good fortune.  After being baptised he returned the spot where he has seen the vision and our Lord appeared to him again.  The Lord told Eustace that now that he had forsaken the devil, Satan was armed against him, and that it behooved him to suffer many trials to be humbled from the vanity of the world and gain many spiritual riches.

Soon after, Eustace’s servants and livestock were all slain by a plague.  His property was despoiled, and so he and his family fled to Egypt.  On the way his wife was kidnapped and his sons taken from him.  As our Lord foretold, he had become another Job.  He lived in poverty for some years, but when the enemies of Rome pressed her, the Emperor sought out his old commander, and when Eustace was found, he was returned to Rome, and once again restored to his old rank.  He defeated the barbarians, and while he was on campaign he found his wife and both his sons.

In meantime Emperor Trajan died, and Adrian succeeded him.  Adrian demanded that Eustace make a sacrifice to the pagan gods in thanksgiving for his victory over the barbarians the finding of his wife and children.  Eustace answered, “I adore and do sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, and only serve him.”   This enraged the new emperor who commanded that they all be put to death.  St. Eustace is counted among the fourteen Holy Helpers.