Eulalia of Mérida

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Saint Eulalia of Mérida
Santa Eulalia de Mérida, catedral de Mérida.jpg
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]

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 (modern 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, 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[edit]

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[edit]


  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 (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[edit]