The 48 known Martyrs of Cordoba are a heck of a story, especially since their martyrdoms were chronicled by a contemporary who was very prolific (and soon to be martyred himself). If you were ever having delusions that Cordoba was a happy lovely fairyland of IDIC and convivencia, St. Eulogius‘ Memorialis Sanctorum would beg to differ.
Anyway, July 27 is when five of them bit the dust in the most non-dhimmi way possible: 2 married couples with kids (Aurelius and Sabigotho, and Felix and Liliosa), and one monk from Jerusalem who picked the wrong town to visit on a fundraising tour (George). This stuff is happening contemporary with Charlemagne.
Here’s the beginning of St. Eulogius’ account of the two couples’ early lives. We can probably trust it, since they were also personal friends of his. But it’s my own translation, so don’t trust that. (And why we don’t have a complete English translation of all this guy’s works, I don’t get. It’s valuable history info.)
From Memorialis Sanctorum, by St. Eulogius of Cordoba.
Book II, Chapter X: Of the holy martyrs Aurelius, Felix, George, Sabigotha, and Liliosa.
1. In addition, there was a certain young man named Aurelius, excellent in birth and in many other things. When in childhood he was bereaved of both his Christian mother and non-Christian* father, he was fostered under his paternal aunt’s most faithful guardianship into the years of adolescence, and he was initially taught to believe truly that Christ is God, and that the Church is the way of salvation, and that the way to the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be discovered elsewhere. The boy drank in the venerable instruction; so when he learned Arabic literature under his relations’ guidance, he was still as guiltless when set before the notice of heavenly souls of the holy faith. No figments of the vanities were able to change him. In fact, his heart always retaining his Christianity, when he would have pursued the fading literature only to be derided for his meditation, he blazed up all the more with love of the Christian faith that, clearly showing the perverse delusions of their dogmas, drew his attention to the subtle fallacies of the demons. And when he could not carry out the observation of the faith publicly, still, commending himself everywhere to God’s priests, he prayed for himself to be better persuaded.
* The terms Eulogius usually uses for “Muslim” are “Gentile” (of the nations) and “pagan” (of the hinterlands). It’s a deliberate choice, not some kind of confusion about Muslim beliefs.
2. Meanwhile, he was carried into the years of youth, maturing vigorously, his cheeks sprouting, and his face adorned with manly beauty. Therefore he was compelled to seek a noble marriage by the persuasive appeals of his worthy relations. So each one of his relations, as he had known they would, claimed this or that one of their daughters to be the best. But he, chewing it over inside in a different way, entrusted to Christ the business of his marriage, pleading to the heavenly divine will with constant interventions of prayers, so that he gave powerful vows about his spouse, that he might make an effort to become better in his private life, and that he might support her in mind and body as a worshipper living a retired life.
Aided by His favor, eventually he learned of a respected virgin flowerbud who was being pressured. She was renowned for her property, elegant in her ways, and most lovely in appearance. She was adorned with a particular attractiveness of outward dress, while inwardly she shone forth with even more outstanding spiritual beauty. Because “all the glory of the king’s daughter” was “within” her – that is, it had traveled into her inmost self. Indeed, “clothed” by sanctity “in golden borders” of “variety” — that is, in virtue — she presented herself as a handmaid to Christ, pleased to be ruled by Him. [Psalm 44:14-15, or in today’s reckoning, Psalm 45:13-14.]
3. This girl, for her part, was born to non-Christian parents who had kept a jealous watch on her from the cradle until the present, when she was bereaved of her father. Her mother took another husband who secretly retained faith in Christ. Rooting up the impieties of error in his new spouse, he desired to bestow Christ upon his stepdaughter, and named her Sabigotho by the sacrament of Baptism. Granted that he allowed himself in public to be thought one of the pagans, he truly bore a staunch soul in both piety and religion.
Hence this girl, herself venerable in youth, taking on the conjugal law, satisfied with the title of “espoused”, by brideprice pledge and in turn by the display of a lawful delivering over of herself, was made sacred by the High Priest’s ministry; and so in an equal exchange, bearing the faith of Christ in another manner in her enclosure, she did not reveal to everyone the mystery of her faith, depressed by the weakness of flesh, in order that there be no diminution of her promises.
4. But the next door neighbor to blessed Aurelius was a man of noble birth named Felix, linked to him even more by holy love, who, vacillating in the faith by the pretexts of the devil, afterwards would sigh deeply over his lapse into collusion. Beyond that, he could not come openly to exercise the religion of Christ. He took as spouse the daughter of hidden Christians, a woman named Liliosa, developed in Christ in a more disguised secluded place.
Therefore, mutually attached immovably to each other, always able to consider themselves one in close friendship, they carried on agreeably, separated neither by prosperity nor adversity; in either case, their affection appeared the same. And this obligation of such kindness pitted them against each other for perfection of brotherly love, so that they would not be divided in life or death, who had glommed equally in religion onto the occasion. Of the merit of which it is said, The saints, “lovable and comely”, in the same way that they love each other “in their life”, so also, even “in death they were not divided”. [2 Kings 1:23, or in today’s reckoning, 2 Samuel 1:23.]
There’s tons more of this stuff. St. Eulogius didn’t know much he could report on some of these martyrs, beyond the necessary names and death dates; but he had pages and pages on these folks’ doings during their trials.
And yes, I think “glommed” is a literal translation of “glomaverunt”. 🙂