The story of most martyrs of the first three centuries is so obscured by legend that it is difficult for us to cull out the historical kernel; this is true of today’s saints. Tradition tells us that the brothers Protus and Hyacinth were chamberlains to the holy virgin Eugenia (listed as a martyr on December 25 in the Roman Martyrology) and were baptized along with their patron by Bishop Helenus. They devoted themselves zealously to the study of Sacred Scripture and lived for a time with the hermits in Egypt, illustrious for humility and holiness of life. At a later date they accompanied Eugenia to Rome and were arrested by Emperor Gallienus (260-268) for their profession of the Christian faith. In no manner could they be persuaded to deny the faith or worship the gods. Accordingly, after an inhuman scourging, they were beheaded on September 11.
Veneration of the two martyrs in the Church of Rome dates to venerable antiquity. Ancient registers contain their names, Pope Damasus praises them in verse at the end of the age of martyrs. The cemetery of Basilla marked the site of their graves; relics of St. Hyacinth were discovered there in 1845 and now are honored in the chapel of the Propaganda.
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch