Overview

Eulalia

(d. c. 304)


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(Spain) (d. c.304),

virgin and martyr. The existence and cult of this martyr are known from the Calendar of Carthage and the Martyrology of Jerome. There are also hymns in her honour by Prudentius in his Peristephanon and Venantius Fortunatus and a sermon of Augustine. Her martyrdom was known to Bede (in his hymn to Etheldreda), Aldhelm, and the OE martyrology; it inspired too the oldest surviving French poem, the Cantilène de Sainte Eulalie. Prudentius' account (before 405) makes her a consecrated virgin of noble family who despised frivolity and luxury and showed austerity and strictness worthy of an older person. This accords with the 6th-century mosaic at Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. Her Acts of the 7th century are unreliable. These make her a girl of twelve who, when the edicts of Diocletian were published obliging everyone to offer sacrifice to the gods, came to the judge at Merida and reproached him with trying to destroy souls through obliging them to deny the one true God. The judge Dacian tried to flatter, bribe, and lastly terrify her, but she trampled on the sacrificial cake and spat at the judge. Executioners then tortured her and she was burnt alive. Snow covered her body until it was buried by Christians near by. The oven in which she was believed to have been burnt is incorporated into her shrine at Merida.

This has been from early times the centre of her notable cult. Relics were claimed at Loja, Salpensa, and Guadix (6–7th centuries); monasteries were dedicated to her in 8th-century Toledo and a basilica in 10th-century Cordoba, as well as several churches in or near Barcelona.

Later, a very similar story was developed concerning a supposed Eulalia of Barcelona, but the Bollandists and other scholars are convinced that there was only one martyr Eulalia, that of Merida. Oviedo, however, also claims her relics. There survive five paintings of her in Palma cathedral, Majorca (Sienese retable, 14th century) and in the Catalonian art gallery of Barcelona (15th century). The young age claimed by her Acts, appealed to patrons and artists alike. Feast: 10 December.

Propylaeum, pp. 60, 576; C.M.H., pp. 642–3; H. Quentin, Les martyrologes historiques du moyen âge (1908), pp. 162–4;B. T. A., iii. 530–1; R. Collins in Visigothic Spain (ed. E. James, 1980), pp. 189–219. H.S.S.C., ii. 148–52; Bibl. SS., v. 204–9.

Subjects: Christianity.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.