Profile Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona

Profile Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona


Saint Eulalia is a Catholic martyr who is venerated as a saint. Santa Eulalia is an important figure in Catalan culture and folklore. Her story is often told during the city's La Mercè festival, a celebration that honors the Virgin of Mercy and includes various cultural and religious events. The Mercè  festival takes place in September and pays homage to several patron saints, including Santa Eulalia. She also has her own festival in February each year for children.

Santa Eulàlia is patron of Barcelona cathedral and co-patron saint of the city of Barcelona. Her patronages include being saint of sailors, miscarriages, drought and rain.

The story of Barcelona's child virgin saint Saint Eulàlia (ca. 290-303) is a gruesome tale. Eulalia died on 12th February in the year 303. This date is now celebrated every year as Saint Eulàlia’s day. 

Legend has it that she was a thirteen-year-old Christian girl, who lived in a rural country house or farmhouse - called a 'mas' in Catalan - in what is now the upscale district of Sarrià, in the upper part of Barcelona. At that time Sarrià was in the countryside and far outside the medieval walled city of Barcelona.

Eulalia became a Christian martyr in Barcelona during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. She protested to the Roman governor against the persecution of Christians, which resulted in her arrest and torture for refusing to recant her Christian faith.

The Romans apparently subjected her to not just one form of torture, but thirteen different and gruesome tortures. The most infamous was putting Eulalia naked in a barrel filled with glass and embedded knives and rolling it down Barcelona streets with a slope and specifically the streets Carrer de Sant Sever and Baixada de Santa Eulalia - 'Saint Eulalia's descent.'

Other cruel tortures that Eulalia is said to have been subjected to including cutting off her breasts, crucifying her on an X-shaped cross 'crux decussata' and other barbaric deeds until her final decapitation. Legend has it that when Eulàlia lost her head, a dove flew out from her neck.

Eulàlia is commemorated with many statues and street names throughout Barcelona. She symbolises justice, solidarity and youth. 

Eulalia's body was first interred in a church originally called 'Santa Maria de les Arenes' - St. Mary of the Sands. This church was located on the present site of the gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar - St. Mary of the Sea church - in the Ribera/Born area of Barcelona. Eulalia's remains were concealed in the year 713 following the Moorish invasion of Spain in 711 - and only recovered again in 874. On 23rd November 874 her remains were moved to Barcelona's cathedral - Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia - by Bishop Frodoinus.

In 1339 the remains were moved once again, this time to the crypt of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, commonly known as Barcelona Cathedral, where they remain to this day. Barcelona Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Eulalia and is a significant religious and architectural landmark in Barcelona. According to legend, during the procession to move the bones of Santa Eulalia to their final resting place, an angel appeared when the procession reached the Plaça de l'Àngel - it confronted one of the clergymen, who confessed to having stolen a toe bone from the skeleton of Santa Eulalia.

The crypt for Santa Eulàlia's remains was designed by 'maestro de obras' Jaime Fabre. Lupo di Francesco created the alabaster sarcophagus.

In the Sarria area where Eulalia came from which at the time was outside the city of Barcelona, there were many geese. A gaggle of thirteen white geese, one goose for each year of Eulalia's short life, is always kept in the cloister of Barcelona cathedral in the 'Well of the Geese' - 'Fuente de las Ocas.' 

Visit the official Santa Eulalia website (in Catalan and Spanish) for more information about Santa Eulalia anf the Festival Santa Eulalia Barcelona

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