Saint of the Day – 11 March – St Eulogius (Died 857) Priest and Martyr, Writer, Poet, Theologian, Teacher – It is not certain on what date or in what year of the 9th century he was born. It must have been before 819, because in 848 he was a highly esteemed priest among the Christians of Catalonia and Navarre and priesthood was conferred only on men thirty years of age. Patronages – carpenters, coppersmiths.
St Eulogius was of a senatorian family of Cordoba, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. Our Saint was educated among the clergy of the Church of St Zoilus, a martyr who suffered with nineteen others under Diocletian. Here he distinguished himself, by his virtue and learning and, being made priest, was placed at the head of the chief ecclesiastical school at Cordoba. He joined assiduous watching, fasting and prayer to his studies and his humility, mildness and charity gained him the affection and respect of every one.
During the persecution raised against the Christians in the year 850, St Eulogius was thrown into prison and there wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded on 24 November, 851. Six days after their death Eulogius was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the like martyrdom. St Eulogius encouraged all these martyrs to their triumphs and was the support of that distressed flock.
The Archbishop of Toledo dying in 858. St Eulogius was elected to succeed him but there was some obstacle that hindered him from being consecrated, though he did not outlive his election two months.
A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a noble family among the Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relatives and privately baptised. Her father and mother scourged her day and night to compel her to renounce the Faith. Having made her condition known to St Eulogius and his sister Anulona, intimating that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured her the means of getting away and concealed her for some time among faithful friends.
But the matter was at length discovered and they were all brought before the cadi, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion. Whereupon the cadi gave orders that he should be carried to the palace and be presented before the king’s council. Eulogius began boldly to propose the truths of the Gospel to them. But, to prevent their hearing him, the council condemned him immediately to lose his head. As they were leading him to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face, for having spoken against Mohamed he turned the other cheek and patiently received a second.
He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness, on 11March, 859. St Leocritia was beheaded four days after him and her body thrown into the river Guadalquivir but taken out by the Christians.
St Eulogius’s friend and biographer Paulus Alvarus affectionately described him as gentle, reverent, well-educated, steeped in Scripture and so humble, that he freely submitted to opinions of others less informed than he. He said that Eulogius had a pleasant demeanour and conducted his relationships with such kindness that everyone regarded him as a friend. A gifted leader, the most prominent among his charisma was the ability to give encouragement. As a priest serving in an occupied country, he used this gift to strengthen his friends in the face of danger.
This humility shone particularly on two occasions. In his youth he had decided to make a foot pilgrimage to Rome, notwithstanding his great fervour and his devotion to the sepulchre of the Prince of the Apostles (a notable proof of the union of the Mozarabic rite Church with Rome), he gave up his project, yielding to the advice of prudent friends. Again, during the Muslim persecution, in 850, after reading a passage of the works of St Epiphanius he decided to refrain for a time from saying Mass that he might better defend the cause of the martyrs, however, at the request of his bishop, Saul of Córdoba, he put aside his scruples. His extant writings (Apologia, Exhortation to Martyrdom, Memorial of the Saints) are proof that Alvarus did not exaggerate.
Saint Eulogius demonstrated courageous love for the Lord, accepting martyrdom even when his position within society would have allowed him to avoid such a fate. He recorded a detailed history of the martyrs of Cordoba, illuminating the widespread heroic faith which occurred in that region.
His life reminds us that all we have is given to us by the Lord—that without Him, we are nothing. The message of Lent resonates with the lives of these “voluntary” martyrs of Cordova who gave their lives for their faith, recognising that those lives belonged to He who created them.
St Eulogius is buried in the Cathedral of Oviedo.