Saint Bercus the priest was one of twenty-six martyrs who were killed by the Goths around the year 375 under Jungerich, a persecutor of Christians. Ancient synaxaria of the Gothic Church recount the martyrdom of twenty-six Christians in the time of the emperors Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian. The historian Sozomen says that King Athanaric was enraged to see his subjects embracing Christianity because of the preaching of the Arian bishop Ulfilas. So, he ordered many of them to be tortured and executed, often without a trial.
King Athanaric’s ministers placed a statue in a chariot and paraded it before the tents which Christians used for church services. Those who worshiped the idol and offered sacrifice were spared, the rest were burned alive in the tent. Jungerich gave orders to burn down a church during divine services. In the fiery inferno 308 people perished, of whom only twenty-one are known by name. There was also an anonymous man who came to the tent and confessed Christ. He was martyred with the others. Different manuscripts give variants of their names.
In the reign of Valentinian and Theodosius (383-392), the Gothic king’s widow Gaatha (who was an Orthodox Christian) and her daughter Duclida gathered up the relics of the holy martyrs and brought them to Syria with the help of some priests and a layman named Thyellas. Gaatha later returned to her native land, where she was stoned and died as a martyr, along with her son Agathon.
The relics of the holy martyrs were left to Duclida, who went to Cyzicus in Asia Minor and gave some of the relics for the founding of a church. St Duclida died in peace.
The holy martyrs were commemorated on October 23 on the Gothic calendars.