Saint Eulogius, Martyr

March 11

Today is the feast day Saint Eulogius.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Eulogius was of a senatorial family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain.  It is not certain on what date or in what year of the ninth century he was born; it must have been previous to 819, because in 848 he was a priest highly esteemed among the Christians of Catalonia and Navarre, and priesthood was then conferred only on men thirty years of age.  The family of the saint was of the nobility and held land in Cordova from Roman times.

He was educated among the clergy of the Church of Saint Zoilus, a martyr who had suffered with nineteen others several centuries earlier, under Diocletian. In his own time still, many Christians were resisting the efforts of the Moors to make the Christians apostatize. Without ever weakening, Eulogius, who was a priest and head of the principal ecclesiastical school at Cordova, combated the perverse influence of the invaders, and it is primarily because of him that the Church saw a new and magnificent flowering of victims immolated for the faith, later to be the source of great blessings for Spain. Eulogius recorded the names and acts of these generous martyrs.

In 850, he himself was seized and imprisoned. In prison he wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded on the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death he was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the same martyrdom. Saint Eulogius encouraged these martyrs, too, for their triumphs, and was the support of the distressed flock. When the Archbishop of Toledo died in 858, Saint Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but some obstacle hindered him from being consecrated, and his martyrdom would follow in less than two months.

He defended the voluntary martyrs who presented themselves to be killed, a position criticized by many as rash. The Muslims, surprised to see so many Catholics offering themselves as martyrs, became fearful of a Catholic uprising that could threaten their rule. Caliph Abd-er-Rahman II called together the Bishops to meet in Cordoba and put a halt to these voluntary martyrdoms. In fact, the council convened and forbade anyone henceforth to offer himself as a martyr. But the council did so in ambiguous and allegorical terms so that the Bishops might remain in the good graces of the caliph, while not directly condemning the martyrs, who were very popular.

St. Eulogius did not approve of this dissimulation and strongly resisted it. As a result, he was persecuted by both the Muslims and the Catholics who favored adaptation of the Faith to mollify the ruling Muslims.

He was elected Archbishop of Toledo shortly before he was beheaded (11 March, 859). He left a perfect account of the orthodox doctrine which he defended, the intellectual culture which he propagated, the imprisonment and sufferings which he endured; in a word, his writings show that he followed to the letter the exhortation of St. Paul: Imitatores mei estote sicut et ego Christi. He is buried in the cathedral of Oviedo.

Image: Martyrdom of Saint Eulogius of Cordova, at Cordova cathedral, Circa: 17th century, (6)

Research by REGINA Staff


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