Fourth-century martyr under Diocletian; d. Chalcedon, c. 303. Her passio, though not historically trustworthy, describes her multiple sufferings; and St. Asterius of Amasea (d. 410) relates that she was "burnt alive after her teeth were knocked out with a hammer." The date of September 16 found in the Fasti consulares of Vienne could be that of her martyrdom. In the fourth century a basilica was erected in her honor at Chalcedon and became an important pilgrimage center; both melania the younger and the mysterious pilgrim Aetheria visited it. In 451 the Council of chalcedon was held in this basilica, and the saint is said to have manifested her miraculous assistance. Shortly before the Persian invasion of the city (617), her relics were taken into Constantinople and placed in the old church of St. Euphemia. Many encomia were written in her honor; those by the ninth-century Theodore Bestes and Constantine, bishop of Tion, on the finding of her relics are of some note. Her cult spread rapidly, based as it was on the Council of Chalcedon and the miraculous narrations in her passio. The many authors mentioning her example or her relics include paulinus of nola and peter chrysologus. Many churches were dedicated in her honor: in the East, at Daphne near Antioch, at Oxyrhyncus in Middle Egypt; on the shore of the Adriatic, at Zara, Aquileia, Grado, and Ravenna; in the Mediterranean basin, at Malta and Carthage; and above all in Italy, at Tivoli between 492 and 496, and in Rome, where Pope St. sergius (d. 701) restored the title to the Church of St. Euphemia on the Viminal hill. In the Milanese liturgy she was named in the Canon of the Mass. In the West during the Middle Ages her cult was widespread in Brittany, Alsace, and Austria.
Feast: Sept. 16.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Sept. 5:252–286. a. delehaye, Les Origines du culte des martyrs (Brussels 1933). a. s. lewis, ed. and tr., Select Narrations of Holy Women, from the Syro-Antiochene or Sinai Palimpsest, 2 v. (London 1900). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienneet de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 1907–53) 5.1:745–746. a. m. schneider, a. grillmeier, and h. bacht, Das Konzil vom Chalkedon: Geschichte und Gegenwart (Würzburg 1951–54) 1:291–302.