Saint Eulalia was a native of Merida, in Spain. The daughter of Christian parents, she was taught in her childhood by a very holy priest of that city. She was but twelve years old when the bloody edicts of Diocletian were issued. Her parents, knowing of her vow of virginity and fearing that her zeal would cause her to be a victim of the persecutions, sent her to their house in the country. Eulalia indeed escaped, as they feared, and returned to the city to present herself, with her young companion and Christian friend, Julie, before the cruel Calpurnianus, representing the viceroy of Diocletian. She reproached him for attempting to destroy souls, by compelling them to renounce the only true God.
The officer commanded that she be seized, and at first tried to win her over by flattery. Failing in this, he had her flogged and resorted to threats, causing the most dreadful instruments of torture to be placed before her eyes, and saying to her: All this you shall escape, if you will but touch a little salt and frankincense with the tip of your finger. Provoked by these seducing flatteries, our Saint threw down the idol before her, and trampled upon the cake placed there for the sacrifice. At the judge’s order, two executioners tore her tender sides with iron hooks, so as to leave the very bones bare, then tortured her with burning torches, and dragged her by her hair to the site of execution. She said to the cruel persecutor, Calpurnianus, look well at me so that you may recognize me on the day of the Final Judgment, when both of us will appear before Jesus Christ, our common Lord, I to receive the reward of my torments, and you, the chastisement of your inhumanity toward the Christians. She was covered with hot coals; the fire caught in her hair and surrounded her head and face, and she suffocated amid the smoke and flames. The persecutor commanded that her body be left untended for three days, but Providence covered it with a blanket of snow, which seemed to whiten it and give it a marvelous beauty.
The Christians buried Saint Eulalia in Merida. Later her body was transported to Oviedo, Spain, where it was placed in a chapel dedicated to her memory, within the large church. She is the patroness of that city, and many graces have been received when her relics are transported in processions in times of public necessity.
Reflection: The Apostles rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:41) Do we bear our crosses with the same spirit?
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14