Eulalia of Barcelona

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Eulalia of Barcelona
Bernat Martorell - Martyrdom of Saint Eulalia - Google Art Project.jpg
Bernat Martorell's Martyrdom of Saint Eulalia, 1442–1445 (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya).
Bornc. 290
Barcelona, Hispania (Spain)
DiedFebruary 12, 303 (aged 13)
Barcelona, Hispania
Venerated inRoman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism and Eastern Orthodoxy
Major shrineCathedral of Santa Eulàlia, Barcelona
FeastFebruary 12 (August 22 and December 10 in the Orthodox Church)
AttributesX-shaped cross, stake, and dove
PatronageBarcelona, Spain; sailors; against drought [1]

Eulalia (c. 290 – February 12, 303), co-patron saint of Barcelona, was a 13-year-old Roman Christian virgin who was martyred 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 Eulalia of Mérida, whose story is similar.[1]


Painting of Eulalia with the X-shaped "cross saltire" in Barcelona Cathedral
Relief of Eulalia in Barcelona Cathedral

Eulalia, age thirteen, was the daughter of a noble family that lived near the city of Barcelona. Amid the persecutions under Diocletian, governor Dacian arrived in the city intent on enforcing the decrees. Sometime later, Eulalia left her home, entered the city and confronted the governor for his merciless persecution of Christians. Unable to dismiss the eloquent arguments of a young girl, Dacian soon had Eulalia stripped nearly naked and flagellated, which was followed by bloodier tortures that were not to cease unless she admitted the error of her ways. Resisting to the end, she prayed that God would take her to Heaven, and died of her wounds.[2]

A dove is supposed to have flown forth from her mouth following her death. Then, a sudden snowstorm covered her body like a garment.[2]

It is traditionally believed that her tortures culminated in her crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, and she is depicted with this cross as the instrument of her martyrdom. However, it has been posited that she was instead publicly tortured to death on an X frame and her body left on display, artistic depictions of this leading to the later belief that she was crucified.[3]

Tomb of Saint Eulalia in the crypt of Barcelona Cathedral


There are a number of similarities with the description of the martyrdom of Eulalia of Mérida.

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.[4] The festival of Saint Eulalia is held in Barcelona for a week around her feast day on February 12.[5]

Eulalia is commemorated with statues and street names throughout Barcelona.[6] For example, Eulalia is traditionally believed to have been placed in a barrel with shards of glass and rolled down the street named Baixada de Santa Eulàlia ("Saint Eulalia's descent").[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b "Virgin Martyr Eulalia of Barcelona", Orthodox Church in America
  3. ^ Santa Eulalia de Barcelona (in Spanish)
  4. ^ Santa Maria del Mar Archived 2006-02-05 at the Wayback Machine from The New York Times travel guide.
  5. ^ Festes de Santa Eulàlia from Barcelona municipal website (in Catalan)
  6. ^ a b Vázquez Montalbán, Manuel (1992). Barcelonas. London: Verso. p. 42. ISBN 0-86091-353-8.

External links[edit]