Eulalia of Mérida

Eulalia of Mérida (Augusta Emerita in 292 - Augusta Emerita 10 December, 304) was a young Roman Christian martyred in Augusta Emerita, the capital of Lusitania (actually Mérida, Spain), during the Persecution of Christians under Diocletian. Other views place her death at the time of Trajan Decius (AD 249-51).[2] There is debate whether Saint Eulalia of Barcelona, whose story is similar, is the same person.[3] Up till the proclamation of James, son of Zebedee, Eulalia was invoked as the protector of Christian troops in the Reconquista and was patron of the territories of Spain during their formation.[4]

Saint Eulalia of Mérida
Santa Eulalia de Mérida, catedral de Mérida
Image of Santa Eulalia in Merida Cathedral
Bornc. AD 290
Mérida, Spain
Diedc. AD 304
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church, Orthodox Catholic Church
Major shrineCathedral of San Salvador
Feast10 December
Attributescross, stake, and dove
PatronageMérida, Spain; Oviedo, Spain; runaways; torture victims; widows; inclement weather[1]


John William Waterhouse - Saint Eulalia - 1885
Saint Eulalia, by John William Waterhouse, 1885, Tate collection.

Eulalia was a devout Christian virgin, aged 12–14, whose mother sequestered her in the countryside in AD 304 because all citizens were required to avow faith in the Roman gods. Eulalia ran away to the law court of the governor Dacian at Emerita, professed herself a Christian, insulted the pagan gods and emperor Maximian, and challenged the authorities to martyr her. The judge's attempts at flattery and bribery failed. According to the Spanish-Roman poet Prudentius of the fifth century, who devoted book 3 of his Peristephanon ("About martyrs") to Eulalia, she said:

Isis Apollo Venus nihil est,
Maximianus et ipse nihil:
illa nihil, quia facta manu;
hic, manuum quia facta colit
(Isis, Apollo and Venus are naught,
Nor is Maximian anything more;
Nothing are they, for by hand they were wrought,
He, for of hands he the work doth adore)

Eulalia was then stripped by the soldiers, tortured with hooks and torches, and burnt at the stake, suffocating from smoke inhalation. She taunted her torturers all the while,[5] and as she expired a dove flew out of her mouth. This frightened away the soldiers and allowed a miraculous snow to cover her nakedness, its whiteness indicating her sainthood.

A shrine over Eulalia's tomb was soon erected. Veneration of Eulalia was already popular with Christians by 350;[2] Prudentius' poem increased her fame[6] and relics from her were distributed through Iberia. Bishop Fidelis of Mérida rebuilt a basilica in her honor around 560.[2][7] Her shrine was the most popular in Visigothic Spain.[6] Around 780 her body was transferred to Oviedo by King Silo. It lies in a coffin of Arab silver donated by Alfonso VI in 1075. In 1639, she was made patron saint of Oviedo.[8] She appears in Thieleman J. van Braght, Martyrs Mirror: An account of Those who Suffered in the Fourth Century (1660).[9]

Julia of Mérida

Often linked with Eulalia is Saint Julia of Mérida, as in the double dedication to Saints Eulalia and Julia. Julia is also said to have been a young girl martyred at Mérida in 304, in the same persecution by Diocletian, and her feast day is also celebrated on 10 December.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Patron Saints Index Archived 2006-10-24 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Collins, Roger (March 1, 1998). Spain: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 199. ISBN 0-19-285300-7.
  3. ^ Haliczer, Stephen (2002). Between exaltation and infamy: Female mystics in the Golden Age of Spain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0-19-514863-0.
  4. ^ "CULTO, ORIGEN Y DIFUSIÓN. EULALIA DE MÉRIDA PALADÍN DE LA RECONQUISTA, PATRONA DE LAS ESPAÑAS" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  5. ^ Eulalia signifies "well-spoken", an attribute of orators.
  6. ^ a b Dietz, Maribel (July 30, 2005). Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims: Ascetic Travel in the Mediterranean World, 300–800. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press. p. 258. ISBN 0-271-02677-4.
  7. ^ Dietz, Wandering Monks p. 171
  8. ^ Sculpture of SANTA EULALIA DE MÉRIDA from website ‹See Tfd›(in Spanish)
  9. ^ "An Account Of Those Who Suffered In The Fourth Century".
  10. ^ "Saint Julia of Merida". Archived from the original on 6 November 2014.
  • Blackburn and Holford-Strevens: Oxford Book of Days, entry for 10 December

External links

Athleta Christi

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Eulalia of Barcelona

Saint Eulalia (Aulaire, Aulazia, Olalla, Eulària) (c. 290–12 February 303), co-patron saint of Barcelona, was a 13-year-old Roman Christian virgin who suffered martyrdom in Barcelona during the persecution of Christians in the reign of emperor Diocletian (although the Sequence of Saint Eulalia mentions the "pagan king" Maximian). There is some dispute as to whether she is the same person as Saint Eulalia of Mérida, whose story is similar.

For refusing to recant her Christianity, the Romans subjected her to thirteen tortures; including:

Putting her into a barrel with knives (or shards of glass) and rolling it down a street (according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulalia "Saint Eulalia's descent").

Cutting off her breasts

Crucifixion on an X-shaped cross. She is depicted with this cross, the instrument of her martyrdom.

Finally, decapitation.

A dove is supposed to have flown forth from her neck following her decapitation. This is one point of similarity with the story of Eulalia of Mérida, in which a dove flew from the girl's mouth at the moment of her death. In addition, Eulalia of Mérida's tortures are sometimes enumerated among the Barcelona martyrs, and the two were similar in age and year of death.

Eulalia is commemorated with statues and street names throughout Barcelona. Her body was originally interred in the church of Santa Maria de les Arenes (St. Mary of the Sands; now Santa Maria del Mar, St. Mary of the Sea). It was hidden in 713 during the Moorish invasion, and only recovered in 878. In 1339, it was relocated to an alabaster sarcophagus in the crypt of the newly built Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. The festival of Saint Eulalia is held in Barcelona for a week around her feast day on February 12.

Great martyr

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Generally speaking, a Great Martyr is a martyr who has undergone excruciating tortures—often performing miracles and converting unbelievers to Christianity in the process—and who has attained widespread veneration throughout the Church. These saints are often from the first centuries of the Church, before the Edict of Milan. This term is normally not applied to saints who could be better described as hieromartyrs (martyred clergy) or protomartyrs (the first martyr in a given region).

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List of Christians martyred during the reign of Diocletian

The reign of the emperor Diocletian (284−305) marked the final widespread persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. The most intense period of violence came after Diocletian issued an edict in 303 more strictly enforcing adherence to the traditional religious practices of Rome in conjunction with Imperial cult. Modern historians estimate that during this period, known as the Diocletianic or Great Persecution and extending several years beyond the reign of Diocletian, as many as 3,000−3,500 Christians were executed under the authority of Imperial edicts.The church historian Eusebius, a Bishop of Caesarea who lived through both the "Little Peace" of the Church and the Great Persecution, is a major source for identifying Christian martyrs in this period. Martyr narratives flourished later as a genre of Christian literature, but are not contemporary with the persecutions and are often of dubious historicity. This article lists both historical and legendary figures traditionally identified as martyrs during the reign of Diocletian.

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Saint Eulalia (Waterhouse painting)

Saint Eulalia is an oil painting on canvas in the Pre-Raphaelite style, created in 1885 by English artist John William Waterhouse, depicting the aftermath of the death of Eulalia of Mérida. It is currently housed at Tate Britain.

Sequence of Saint Eulalia

The Sequence of Saint Eulalia, also known as the Canticle of Saint Eulalia (French: Séquence/Cantilène de sainte Eulalie) is the earliest surviving piece of French hagiography and one of the earliest extant texts in the vernacular langues d'oïl (Old French). It dates from around 880.

Eulalia of Mérida was an early Christian martyr from Mérida, Spain, who was killed during the Persecution of Diocletian around 304. Her legend is recounted in the 29 verses of the Sequence, in which she resists pagan threats, bribery and torture from the pagan emperor Maximian. She miraculously survives being burned at the stake, but is finally decapitated. She then ascends to heaven in the form of a dove.

The Sequence was composed in verse around 880, soon after the rediscovery of the relics of a saint of the same name, Eulalia of Barcelona, in 878.


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See also

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