A physician of Nicomedia (modern Izmir, Turkey), who was martyred in Egypt under DIOCLETIAN. His name is not found in the Copto-Arabic SYNAXARION, and since the Coptic texts that mention him are also fragmentary, the day he was commemorated is not known. Two Coptic texts concern him: his Passion, now in six fragments originating from the same codex, and an Encomium attributed to Moses of Tkow, now in three fragments originating from the same codex. All these fragments have been published by L. Lefort (1950).
A more or less complete reconstruction of the text of the Passion is possible because it is based on the text of the Passion of Saint PANTALEON, with a sole, although important, change in the final section. According to the Passion, Olympius was particularly gifted at his studies in his youth; unknown to his father, he embraced Christianity at an early age. He became a physician and through the miraculous cure of a blind man he converted his father, who then died.
Olympius used all his inheritance to help the martyrs in the prisons. These charitable deeds led to his being reported by jealous colleagues to the emperor Diocletian, who summoned him. The customary scene follows of altercation between the martyr and his persecutor, with various miracles and tortures. At that point (here the text departs from that of Pantaleon), Olympius is sent to Egypt to be killed at the hands of the prefect ARIANUS.
This is certainly a late composition, which may be attributed to the period of the CYCLES (seventh or eighth century). Although it cannot be directly assigned to any particular cycle, there are points of contact between it and the Antiochene cycle of the General.
- Baumeister, T. Martyr Invictus. Der Märtyrer als Sinnbild der Erlösung in der Legende und im Kult der frühen koptischen Kirche. Münster, 1972.
- Lefort, L. T. “Un martyr inconnu: S. Olympios.” Le Muséon 63 (1950):1-23.