Previously on this site I published a translation of Saint Eulogius of Córdoba's work in defence of the martyrs of the Córdoba (Apologetic Book for the Martyrs). To recall, the martyrs of Córdoba were dozens of Christians executed by the Muslim authorities of the Emirate of Córdoba in the ninth century for various charges of blasphemy and apostasy. Now I turn to Eulogius' magnum opus: the Memoriale Sanctorum (Memorial of the Saints), which was composed in three books. The work is mentioned in the biography of Eulogius by his friend Álvaro of Córdoba. The Memoriale Sanctorum is the most important primary source account we have of the affair of the martyrs of the Córdoba, and on account of its length it is best to publish translations and commentaries on the three books of the Memoriale Sanctorum in separate posts.
While the preface and the first book do contain references to the stories of some of the early martyrs within this affair (such as the monk Isaac and Perfectus the presbyter), the contents of this part of the Memoriale Sanctorum are primarily a religious defence of the martyrs as being actual martyrs and saints. Thus, this part of the work is similar in many ways to the Apologetic Book for the Martyrs. The primary audience is Eulogius' own Christian community with knowledge of the Latin language, though part of the work also deals with Muslim taunts against the claimed martyrdoms.
As is apparent from this work and the later apologetic for the martyrs that Eulogius composed, many if not the majority of the Christian community at the time- including members of the priesthood- disagreed with Eulogius that the martyrs of Córdoba were actual martyrs. It is possible that Eulogius is exaggerating the extent of the opposition to his positions in this debate. After all, think about how often, in everyday discourse, we can construct strawmen positions/arguments in opposition to views we hold and then we ascribe them to a generic 'many' or 'most' people. In any event, the controversy among the Christian community was clearly there, and involved citations of religious texts and comparisons with the past.
At the core of this debate regarding the martyrs of Córdoba is the question whether these martyrs are comparable to the martyrs of the past, who were subject to persecution and killing at the hands of the pagan Roman authorities. For Eulogius' opponents, the answer is that the martyrs of Córdoba are not comparable. The reasons for their objections, as relayed by Eulogius, can be summarised as follows:
. No miracles accompanied the purported martyrdoms of these people of Córdoba (a taunt also used by Muslims in opposition to the martyrs and as vindication of their faith). A point tied to this is the putridness of the martyrs' bodies rather than the miraculous preservation of those bodies that should occur if they are truly martyrs.
. The Muslim rule over the Christian community is not comparable to the Roman persecutions of the Christians, as the Christians are allowed by the Muslim authorities to practise their faith openly. These martyrs of Córdoba were not dragged by force to any persecution, but rather they decided to attack Islam when the Muslim authorities had not troubled them. They are guilty of the king of cursing that is condemned in the Gospel. In other words, these martyrs are merely provocateurs driven by their own egos and do not merit to be called martyrs and saints.
Eulogius counters that in attacking Islam (note though that he does not call Islam and Muslims by their own names), these martyrs are in fact performing the duty of standing up for the truth and proclaiming it. For Islam is not a religion that to be considered a peer of Christianity, but is rather a dangerous heresy. While Eulogius notes that Islam accords Jesus the status of a great prophet, it commits the heresy of denying Jesus' divinity, and has a vision of Paradise that resembles a brothel, while the Prophet Muhammad supposedly claimed that he would take Mary's virginity (no evidence to support that claim). It is right that the martyrs should stand up against Islam and denounce it, while not hating Muslims as people.
Though Eulogius concedes that the Muslim authorities afford toleration to the Christian faith, he asserts that this toleration does not come without molestia as the critics claim. Here we have a more negative depiction of the life of the Christian dhimmi (essentially a second-class citizen) under the Muslim rulers. Eulogius describes the tearing down of Christian basilicas, the humiliating payment of a monthly tribute (a reference to the jizya tax levied on Christians and Jews, since the jizya could be paid in monthly instalments even as it was an annual taxation), derisions heaped on Christians and their symbols by Muslims, and the Muslims' perception of the Christians as an unclean people who should not approach the Muslims or touch their clothing. There may be some exaggeration in Eulogius' depiction, but it is hard to imagine that this portrait is one simply forged without a basis in reality. The Qur'anic mandate (9:29) on paying the jizya does stipulate that those who pay it should feel subdued/lowered. Similarly, it is likely that some harassment occurred in daily life even if it fell far short of the Roman persecutions. In any event, it is not necessary for there to be an active persecution of the individual or community, as there were examples from the Roman times of people who willingly went forth to martyrdom, such as some of those who came forward in solidarity with fellow Christian brethren.
As for the issue of lack of miracles, Eulogius notes that miracles do not necessarily occur in every time and place, and they are not a prerequisite for martyrdom. So also all bodies of mortals eventually rot away in the Earth, even if they are the bodies of the patriarchs, prophets, saints and martyrs. However, it has already been noted in the analysis of the later apologetic for the martyrs that Eulogius is not entirely consistent on this point, as he incorporates miraculous motifs into the stories of the martyrs Rudericus and Christoforus. So also in this work, Eulogius mentions miracles in association with the life of Isaac to construct a narrative about how he was destined for martyrdom.
The more detailed stories of individual martyrs are to come in the following books of the Memoriale Sanctorum. For now, I feature my translation and commentary on the preface and Book One of the Memoriale Sanctorum. As always, any suggestions for amendments and corrections to the translation are most welcome.
Editions consulted for the original Latin text and to check Biblical references in particular:
- Juan Gil, Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum (Madrid, 1973).
- Francisco de Lorenzana, SS. PP. Toletanorum Quotquot Extant Opera...Tomus Secundus (Madrid, 1785).
I would like to dedicate this work to Alastair Reed, a person who surprisingly agreed to take on the burden of reading and supervising my doctoral thesis draft chapters. Alastair: may you find this text as interesting to read and comment on as my dissertation draft chapters.
The preface of blessed Eulogius on the first book of the Memoriale Sanctorum
Indeed in calling this volume Memoriale Sanctorum I had merely alluded to those hermitages, from which that previous band of monks had proceeded to resist the most mendacious prophet. But afterwards I came to know men and women rushing to this struggle in eagerness from the cities, villages, little towns and forts. I discovered that no one feared the tribunal of the governor, but rather I saw all had without hesitation chosen death for the testament and laws of our God. Therefore, I dedicated that to all the churches founded upon the most solid rock, so that indeed all might have from their triumph as much example and joy of their consolation and glory as was the case when those people came from various places and underwent the hardships of the sufferings as an example for the whole church.
But I think that among these people no doubt the monk Saint Isaac obtains the principate, he who first came down into the forum from the Tabanensian monastery and approached the judge and reproached him with these words: 'I should wish,' he said, 'oh judge, to become a devoted worshipper of this faith, if only you would explain without delay the order and rationale of it.' So his fallacious tongue brought forth the words of the institution murmuring inside the hollows of his palate with inflated cheeks and swelling throat, gladly explaining to him as though he were some young recruit about to believe his faith. He explained that Mahomad[i] was the author of this sect, who illuminated by the magisterium of the angel Gabriel received the word of prophethood from the Most High, intending to relay it to the nations. He instituted the law, explained the Paradise and taught that the kingdom of heaven was full of banquets and the flows of women. But his judgement described from the impious rite many other things, which would take a very long time to be set forth here. Forthwith that venerable young monk, as he was imbued with knowledge of the Arabic literature to the highest degree, replied to him in Arabic and said: 'He lied to you (so he wastes away with divine curses), he who implicated in such great crime, rushed into the columns of such lost people, and transferred them with him to the abyss of hellfire. For that man, filled with the demon, supporting the demonic delusions, gave for drink the lethal drink of morbidity and will pay the punishment of ruin of eternal perdition. Why do you, endowed as you are with knowledge, not turn away from such dangers? Why do you not renounce the ulcer of the pestilent dogma and choose the eternal evangelical salvation of the Christian faith?'
As the blessed Isaac discussed these things and similar things with pure tongue, the greatest ventures and strength of reverence and sharp tongue, the judge, disturbed by excess stupor and affected as though he were mad is said to have cried abundantly, and occupied with some inhibition of mind he is said to have scarcely have been able to respond to the monk refuting him. And thus the monk immediately said to him as he struck his face with hand outstretched: 'Do you dare to strike a face similar to the image of God? Consider what sort of account you will be render on account of this.' Therefore he was held back by elders sitting with him and rebuked because (they said) he had forgotten the gravitas of the censor and had acted with levitas towards the striking of the martyr, and particularly because according to the opinion of their laws the one who deserves death for a crime should not be mangled with the scorns of any punishment. Then the judge turned to Saint Isaac and said: 'Perhaps drunk with wine or captured by madness you cannot easily realise those things which you bring forth, for the infallible opinion of our prophet, whom you lambast rashly with scorn, must be noted against those who do not fear to pronounce such things about him.' To this the venerable Isaac said with intrepid response: 'In fact, judge, I am not wounded with wine or any illness, but burning with the zeal of justice, of which I have learnt that you and your prophet have no share, I have expounded the truth to you. If raging death should occur because of this, I should gladly receive it and happily undergo it and not turn away my neck from its mishaps. For I have known that the Lord said: 'Blessed are those who suffer persecution on account of justice, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'[ii] Then once the judge handed him over to the prison, his cause immediately became known to the king. Terrified as he was by the outcome of such a great accusation, in his ferocity he immediately brought forth an edict for the fiercer minds, saying that such a guilty person who brought scorn on the author of his faith should always be put to death. From here the servant of God, was beheaded, and then raised on a trunk he was hung upside-down and placed beyond the river for the spectacle of the city on the third day before the Nones of June, on the fourth weekday, in era 889.[iii] After some days his body along with the rest of those who were killed in imitating him, was burned with fire and having been changed into hot ashes was them thrown straight into the river.
But it is necessary to explain with what signs and portents this blessed Isaac became marked in his infancy, so that from this we may believe that by divine intervention he was chosen for the crown of martyrdom, from which having been placed in his mother's womb he brought indeed terrible stupor to his parents. For three times in one day, a little before he was born, he seemed to speak. The wife, terrified by the newness of this thing, such that she almost died, could in no way understand the force of the words. Also on another occasion, when he was still seven years old, a certain virgin saw through a vision a globe of light descend from the sky. And among the crowd of all the faithful only this person extending his arms received the light in his hands and imbibed all its clarity as it was cast into his mouth, as all called him both fortunate and blessed as he was worthy of such a gift. These things are the portents and signs of his infancy, which long before held him out as worthy of martyrdom.
Also a certain priest from the Tabanensian monatery, from which the same blessed person had proceeded to the struggle, conducted the solemnities of missals on Sunday: namely, the seventh day before the Ides of June, which came after the fifth day of his martyrdom.[iv] He then began to nap for a little on a certain couch of the brothers. And behold suddenly he saw through sleep a boy of the finest comeliness come from the parts of the East and holding a sheet of paper of wondrous beauty in his hands came upon him. Accepting it from him, the priest began to read its writing. Thus it was written with these words: 'Just as our father Abraham offered his son Isaac to God in sacrifice, so now Saint Isaac made the sacrifice in the sight of God for his brothers.' And immediately some coming from the city said that the blessed Ieremias was crowned in martyrdom with others through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whose example several were killed publicly under the same profession.
But some time ago the presbyter Perfectus of blessed memory was a predecessor to those people. He fell on account of profession of the same sort by which these people also died. But he did not die in the same way as those people fell. For the aforementioned presbyter, dragged in coercion to the suffering, completed with manhood the course of the holy struggle. These people indeed coming of their own free will fiercely resist the enemy and take the kingdom of heaven with a certain violence through the outpouring of blood. But the beginning of the second book will expound in what rank the same venerable Perfectus the presbyter earned the triumph of the suffering, and from there it will explain the names, ages, risings and times of the killings. So I placed this preface at the start of the volume, so that my readers might understand me more easily as I wander between the praises and vituperations of the saints, and also in the meantime come in opposition against the wicked author. I did this also so that they might expiate with prayers, aid with orations and bring the propitious judgement both now and before the Lord about those people and me as I support those very people.
The opinion of the most skilled men should always have foresight that the benefits should not pay little attention to the Catholic church, nor should they desist from coming to its perfection. And if any contrived impurities insert themselves into the pious religiosity by the vice of some feebleness, then in no way should it be allowed for them to grow through the disgraceful neglect of silence towards greater harm. This is because in as much as the holy church is carried into the above through the deserved gradations of distinguished conduct and holy doctrine, is elevated into the sublime, and expands everywhere by the increment of faith, so also it can be cast down even more by the inattention of the negligent, shaken terribly by the impulses of these people and cast into the abyss by the sluggishness of certain people. From here the result is that the increased strength of the perverse ones always bring loss to the faithful and increase the cost for the very small flock, to whom it has pleased the Father to grant the kingdom.[v] Eventually, with all content in lethargic silence and immersed in the utmost abyss of vices through the forward slip, there is no one to redeem or save. As the prophet says: 'You did not climb from the opposite side, nor did you place a wall for the house of Israel, that you might stand in battle on the day of the Lord.'[vi] Indeed also is the fearful prophecy of that prophet by which the Lord rebukes the sluggishness of the useless shepherds, saying: 'Behold: you have consumed milk and made wools, but the wolves have invaded my sheep.'[vii] And while you do not procure healthy pastures, the morbid grasses have been procured by their enemies.
Therefore, lest I should be called by the Lord a mute dog and not strong enough to bark,[viii] and so that I may escape the judgement of the negligent ones in the future, I have tried to bring forth certain things from the very meagre box of our knowledge and satiate the hunger of the faithful from the dishes of vegetables nonetheless prepared with the Catholic zeal. Of course I mean those people who have accepted the truth of the Christian faith, as from the holy fathers, retain it with sound faithfulness. I have provided this lest they should take the fatal food from the enemies if the healthy feeding of our procuring ceases. And so as I am driven by the stimulus of divine kindness and as I bear the opinion of the Catholic people, whom I have come to know as assenting in the struggles of the soldiers of Christ, I go forth bound with the sword of the word of God to meet zealously those people in opposition to them. By that I mean those people who not only do not wish to accept them among the martyrs, but also attack them with sacrilegious tongue in insults and blasphemies as they decry, if it is possible, the renewed supplication of the rest of the saints. And as I gasp to satisfy the worthy memories of the blessed ones, who ruling in heaven have left the exemplars of their victories to the mortals, I have decided to apply myself to such matters for the little amount of ingenuity I have and even if it means shaping the defiant in our rustic tongue, going against the rivals and extolling the acts of the saints up to heaven.
But I do not know whither the guilty mind will be able to strive when the legal authority of the voice of the Lord encounters it saying: 'But God has said to the sinner: why do you expound on My justices and take up My testament through your mouth?'[ix] From here I had decided to be silent, from here I had judge it was better to lead myself away from intention of this sort, because I deemed it wrong that the mouth that does not rely on any help of sanctity should rashly spend the night working on the acts of the saints. And since I considered that our weak character could succumb to the majesty of the matter, since as the divine matter surpasses the human effort, so the tongue that falls to earthly beings cannot speak of the heavenly mysteries. As he who is a free man with fewer sins does not know how to preach, so the dogma of the same man whose life has been infected with vices is believed to be denied. But surely the mind delighted in such studies does not lose its reward in the presence of Lord? Or will he be eternally deprived of the grace of the eternal gifts? He embarks on the enterprise because it has been pleasing to God: even if he will not wage the performance, he certainly will bear the pious endeavour. Or is it that there will be no compensation to be given in the presence of the Lord, that as these people, who were armed with the zeal of the Lord, waged public and open war against the enemy, so should the delight of ineffable joys exalt elevate us? As I am not unaware for myself that I am guilty of sins and have myself been implicated in crimes,[x] thus also I am in no way distrustful of the clemency of my Redeemer, who while rebuking the sinners from the duty of preaching, since it is not permitted to entrust the holy things of the Lord to the dog,[xi] does not refute the useful will of the sinners in what which is pleasing to Him. In short the works of the wicked are to be detested, but the commendable vows of the sinners are not to be despised, since as sinister work casts us all the way down, thus the Lord does not reject pious will in us. Therefore the mind cast down is immediately raised and recalling Christ's institutes and promises is animated by hope of possibility in some way, as He says: 'Open your mouth and I will fill it.'[xii] And elsewhere: 'The Lord will give word to those who evangelise in many powers.'[xiii] Therefore composed as I am of purpose of vow I believe that the same true teacher will deem us worthy to confer the word of preaching to the good instruction of the Catholics, to the most worthy praise of the saints and to the most effective fight against the adversaries, since he Is the one who granted for the irrational animal to speak as men.[xiv] And as I confess that I am unworthy of such great work, thus also I not only trust that I can be cast out of faults by the completion of it, but also I hope that after being drawn out from punishments I will find greater grace by its intervention with the Lord. As the philosophical maxim goes:
'This work will perhaps draw me away from the fire in the future.'
Therefore as I intend to say something concerning the memories of the martyrs, let the beginning of our oration be directed to you, oh saints who are our brothers and the sisters blessed in Christ, from whose colleges the most sanctified sacrifice was offered to God. Our oration does not fear the filth of the uncultured speech, and does not affect the charm and grace of bountiful study, which I did not have handed down by the magisterium of any teacher, particularly because also in matters of this sort I have known that the simple truth should be observed more than the swollen thundering pomp of the Muses. Also I will speak to you, oh universal gathering of the holy church, so that as you embrace with the welcoming arms of your minds the word of truth, which is preached from our mouth, you should in no way wish that the doctrine of our preaching should be held back: the doctrine which by the affirmation of the apostolic authority is rendered in bounty to the instruction of all, since it rouses the listeners of the one faith- discerned as they are by varied talent- with the diverse divine announcement of the precepts, and there does it soften the rather fierce power with the spirit of patient, where it has armed the meek with the vivid power of the commander, saying to one: 'Refute, implore, exclaim in all patience and doctrine.'[xv] Indeed enjoining another: 'Refute with all power. Let no one belittle you.'[xvi] So be prepared to render the account to every man wishing to ask you about that hope which remains in you, lest (and may it not be so) in rejecting the dogmas of the holy doctrine through foolish hearing you be judged guilty of the opinion of that apostolic rebuke of old, by which it is said: 'For there will be a time, when they will not stand the sound doctrine, but they will gather teachers for themselves for their desires, itching as they are in their ears, and they will indeed turn their hearing away from the truth, but will be turned to the fables.'[xvii] So as the duty of preaching is incumbent on us, so the necessity of hearing is at hand for you. And do not think that the document of the word of God should be rejected because of the fact that we spend time in a disordered way and are cast down in disgraceful conversation, since in general we have known without doubt in the great household of the paterfamilias that the followers of the deplored life are constant visitors, by whose ministry meanwhile the familiar necessities of the masters are expedited. So also water is brought to the commanders of the world in channels of lead,[xviii] and among the sacred vases of the Lord blown with gold and silver, decorated with the ornaments of precious stones, those of bricks are also considered not to be thrown away. But the sinner associated with the lot of God is accustomed to say these words everyday into the ears of the people: 'The Lord says: proclaim, refute the people concerning the transgressions of the precepts of God, answer concerning the severity of the judgement, which is due to the excesses of the sinners, admonish concerning the restoration of mercy and the hope of clemency to be earned.' Though he says these things, he however does not place a measure for himself in the crimes and does not fear the terror of the future pain and he himself assails by his customs that which he preaches to others. But several, drawn in by his word, abstain from illicit things and cling to more perfect things, about which it is said in the Gospel: 'All those things they have said to you, observe and do, but do not act according to their deeds. For they say and they do not do. They tie together heavy and unbearable burdens and impose them on the shoulders of men, but they do not wish to move them by their own finger.'[xix] Hence it follows that, when the church possesses a guide of life cast down in his own customs, it should not consider his preaching to be despises, although he himself assails it by depraved acts. And so the duty of the crowd is to strive to the one speaking in the assembly and to hear the one speaking and to implement by deed the preaching of the teacher, and not to bear their own judgement about the merits of the proponents, whom the Lord has reserved to be drawn asunder to His torment saying: 'But the prophet and the priest have been contaminated and in My home I have found their evil, says the Lord. Therefore their way will be as a hazardous thing in the darkness, for they will be driven and collapse in it. For I will bring upon them evils, in the year of their visitation.[xx]' And again: 'Vengeance belongs to me, and I will pay it back, says the Lord.'[xxi] And while this authority which I have explained a short time ago seeks a defence of my merit and shows in what ways I cannot escape the law of the just, nonetheless it gasps more to inflame the simple gathering of the religious, lest it should reject the holy deeds of the saints even if they are brought out in wicked tongue.
So in as much as there is to be exultation in the struggles of these confessors with keener spirits and the glorious course of the consummated victory should be borne with such great liberty of heart and voice, so the divine voice of the most indulgent solemn promise brings the true comfort of salvation to these people, saying: 'He who perseveres all the way to the end, this person will be saved.'[xxii] Indeed we have known that the reward is not owed to those who begin, but to those who persevere. Indeed that primordial renunciation of things and that contempt of the world were exercised by them with particular vows and rather keen zeal in such a way that they had the desire of beholding God rather quickly and enjoying the company of the blessed, that also they should seek the end of this life that slips away with all their strength. This is because they thought it better to bear under the space of one point the sentencing of men, which should bear them straight to heaven with no postponement intervening, rather than to bear the cunnings of the demons with grave trouble through the various and long crises of the times of this world. And indeed the Lord, commanding the disciples to the duty of preaching the truth, ordered them to be content with unafraid audacity, saying: 'Go through the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He who believes and is baptised, will be saved. But he who does not believe, will be condemned.'[xxiii] And again: 'Do not fear those who kill a body, because they do not have any more that they can do. But rather fear the one who can lose a body and life and send them into Gehenna.'[xxiv] 'You are the light the world. The city placed over a mountain cannot be hidden, and they do not set alight a lamp and place it under a measure.'[xxv] 'That which I say to you in the darkness, say in the light, and those things which you have heard in the ear, preach over the buildings.'[xxvi] That which you have come to know in mystery, tell it more openly. That which you have learnt in secret, speak of it publicly. That which I have taught you in the small place of Judaea, say boldly in all the cities and in all the world. He teaches the confidence of preaching, so that the apostles should not be hidden on account of fear and be like a lamp under a measure. So these people who by divine intervention have received the liberty of saying the word among the peoples, should in no way refrain from preaching of the truth, even when there are imminent dangers, so that they should be likened not to lamps under a measure, but ones place over a candlestick.
And although the faculty of refusing the madness of persecution has been placed for the fearful, in general this should not be observed by the perfect, who have already been marked by the foreknowing power of the Redeemer and conscripted as though they have been chosen by the immense legions for waging the battles of God, so that if bloody death should come upon them on account of the truth, there should be no concern about the sacrifice of the limbs, where without doubt the comfort of the eternal life of the souls is acquired. As the Lord says: 'If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and bear his cross and follow me. For he who loses his life because of Me, will find it in eternal life.'[xxvii] Thus the holy men, seizing on the truth of the Gospel with placid ears, strive to amplify it with all their efforts, of course only thinking the life of holy confession to be the virtue of this preaching. These people, having immediately abandoned the cities and these worldly affections they cling to, burn with avid desire to seize the kingdom of God: 'They have gone around in poverty in sheepskins and goatskins, afflicted with troubles, of which this world was not worthy, wandering in solitudes, in mountains, in caves and in the caverns of the earth.'[xxviii] They have done this while awaiting the Lord who should save them from the faintheartedness of the spirit and the storm.[xxix] But reckoning those things for nothing, and indeed waging a dubious struggle on a daily basis against the enemy of spiritual wickedness, with the nod of God they are inflamed by the sudden killing of this temporal life and they desire to be dissolved- as per the apostle- and to be with Christ,[xxx] seeking a way of profit by which uprooted from the body of this death they might quickly reach the heavenly country and in pious violence seize the kingdom of God. Thus also armed with the breastplate of justice they leap forth into the forum preaching the Gospel of God to the chieftains and nations of the world. Elevated in contemplation of minds over Christ the exalted mountain the blessed confessors learnt from the oracles of the psalmist the justice of the Lord that is to be proclaimed in the great church,[xxxi] and thus arising with perfect hatred against the adversaries of the church they refute the impious concerning the false doctrine of the unjust prophet, filled as it is with the delusions, sacrileges and falsehoods of the age. They also detest and assail the author of such great perversity with curses and damn the same gathering subservient to such cults with eternal anathema, and thus not terrified they raise up the public open standard of truth against the enemy, since they bring forth the testimony against the leader of the perdition, confusion and ignominy before the doors of the governor's building and in the very approach of the palace. For they are not afraid of what sort of torment of punishments they should undergo for the same truth or with what kinds of dangers they should have the end of this life. Indeed they were driven by immense eagerness to migrate to heaven, hurrying as they were to see the face of the One whom they should serve. The unjust cohort of the heathens is driven by the zeal of vengeance and brings forth the punishment of quick noticing against the detractors of their sect, not knowing that those people, in order that they may receive this early end, have resisted the enemy of justice with free voices and the adversary of the church of God with voluntary stepping forward, speaking about the testimonies of the Lord in the sight of the kings and fearing nothing,[xxxii] because they willingly choose the end of the flesh, thinking their death to be nothing other than eternal life, offering the sacrifice of their own voluntary souls to God. Rightly is it sung in the prophet voice to them: 'Those of you of Israel who have willingly offered your souls to danger, bless the Lord.'[xxxiii] And through this they seem to me to be the true imitators of the apostle Paul, who says: 'If anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you have received, let it be anathema.'[xxxiv] Shaped by the oracles of this testimony, they leap forth against the angel of Satan and the precursor of the Antichrist, professing openly those things which are holy, which now also the whole church of Hispania preaches although with clandestine voices as it is oppressed.
For the same author of the perverse dogma and pernicious destroyer of many souls- alone among the rest of the founders of the heresies after the ascension of the Lord- in founding a sect of new superstition by the instinct of the devil, was separated from the union of the Catholic church. He rejected the prophecies of the prophets and defamed the doctrine of the apostles. He also rejected the truth of the holy Gospel and denied the dogmas of the pious teachers. Insinuating something ridiculous rather than the causes of necessary things through the same sect, he taught that Christ was the word of God[xxxv] and indeed a great prophet, but not endowed with any power of divinity, similar to the rest of men, but not equal to God the Father. Also he claimed there are Bacchanalian revels in paradise and pleasures of the flesh.[xxxvi] A very learned man, the great light of the church in our times- Abbat Speraindeo-[xxxvii] discussed this issue when he moved his pen against the absurdities of this wicked man and strove to refute several of his mad teachings in one small work. He did so in the sixth chapter of that little book, as though drawing his objection from the voice of the cult followers and from there bringing forth his own opinion. Thus he said:
'In the future, they say, all of us triumphant in this world will we carried forth into paradise, so there will God grant us beautiful women who are also comely beyond the nature of humans and prepared for us in pleasure. The response: therefore in no way will your people obtain the state of blessedness in the paradise, if both sexes of them are free to exercise the perishable libido. This will not be paradise, but a brothel and most obscene place, as the Lord responded to the Pharisees who asked in whose resurrection the female wife would be when she had received seven brothers according to the law of Moses in order to elevate the seed of the nearest.[xxxviii] Thus he said: 'You are in error, knowing neither the scriptures nor the power of God.'[xxxix] 'The sons of this life will marry and be handed into marriages, but in the resurrection they will neither marry nor be handed over, but they will be as angels in heaven."[xl]
Let me be silent about that sacrilege and monstrous deed to be rejected by all hearings of the Catholics, which that impure dog dared to say about Mary, who is the most blessed virgin queen of the world and the holy and venerable mother of our Lord and Saviour. For he claimed- I speak with safe reverence of such a great virgin- that in the coming life her virginity would be violated by him![xli] Oh what a head devoid of a brain and a heart occupied by the privilege of Satan! Oh what a lost vessel and dwelling place of the filthy spirits! Oh what a tongue to be cut into pieces by a blade with two edges! Oh what an organ of demons and symphony of Zabulus![xlii] What fury and what madness drove you to be defiled with such great blasphemies! What lack perditions, whirlpool of iniquities, and bilge-water of all vices deprived you of human senses, oh sewer of dirty things, that it was not merely enough for you to bring destruction to so many nations, whom you persuaded with the false teaching to be sub both the whole efforts now and the obscenities of luxuries in the future, but also you transgressed to bring a crime against the Creator, you impious defiler, who assert that the hospitable reception of heaven and uncontaminated receptacle of the Holy Spirit, undefiled, pure, holy and free of sacrilegious things, is to be defiled by your filthiness in the world to come? She is the one who by the nod of the above, received the Word of the deity in her womb and endowed the Creator with her flesh and brought the World itself out with honourable shame headlong in order to redeem creation in death. She, having had no share of any touch and aspect of man, gravely feared the angel's salutation, and although she knew that no woman could be made pregnant without a man, nonetheless believing in the divine power she knew that she was chosen by God's revelation for the extraordinary conception of this sort, so she agreed and said: 'Behold the handmaiden of God, let her become for me according to Your word.'[xliii] About her glorious labour the Lord once deigned to preach through Ezechiel, saying: 'I turned myself to the way, the gate =of the sanctuary, which looked towards the East, and it was closed. And the Lord said to me: 'This door which you see shut is not to be opened, and man does not cross through it, for the Lord God of Israel will go out through it, and it will be shut.'[xliv]
In short the same wicked man composed many other figments of falsehood that are not to be heard. He did this driven by the instinct of the evil spirit, by which he was assailed as it transformed itself for him into the form of the angel Gabriel of light. He thus constructed temples in which the most evil dogma should be honoured. Indeed several of our philosophers, armed with the zeal of God, have struck with the battering rams of truth[xlv] the insanity of this error, the mad things of this preaching and the precepts of this impious innovation, expounding on the matters in the commentaries and volumes. But indeed the blessed confessors, not bearing his filth lightly, rather boldly attacked that man and his sect with open steps of assertions, because they had known too well that because of the same truth, which they should bring forth concerning that leader of the blind, they would immediately fall by the punishing sword.
And although at first Saint Perfectus the presbyter displayed to all the exemplar of detesting the enemy of the faith and the strength of his profession shut out from many the fear of dying for the truth- about which we promise we will speak more fully in the second book by God's grace- not nonetheless should the public constancy of proclamation of that most unconquered Ioannes be belittled.[xlvi] This man, enduring with brave spirit amid the savage and wicked whips, incited very many by his testimony to martyrdom. Against this man the enemies of the living God brought forth false testimony in the presence of the judge, and brought a charge of this sort against him: 'We have known this man, oh judge, to insist always on insulting our teacher and attacking him irreverently with cursing words, in such a way that whenever he wishes to carry out business on the market days, he cannot otherwise entice buyers except when the most subtle derider puts forward our sacrament to his belittling words. We are witnesses to this matter and we profess in truth that this man is worthy of death.' Indeed as he was assailed with the accusation of less suitable accusers and the reproach of their bringing of testimony could not bring death to the accused, the servant of God was punished with rather harsh whippings and having been lacerated with cruel beating he was compelled to deny Christ. He indeed not only professed that he was guilty of such charges, but also he shouted that he would not abandon the religion of the Crucified till death. The judge, moved with vehement fury by this man's obstinacy, handed over this man to be beaten with five hundred and still more lashes and ordered for the beatings to continue until he should fall forth half-dead onto the ground amid the hands of the killers. And thus as he was half-alive and scarcely breathing, he had him go around the whole city and the broad avenue after he was placed backwards on an ass, preceded by the sacrilegious voice of the public crier saying: 'The insulter of our prophet and mocker of our cult will merit to endure these things.' Indeed after they exercised such things in revenge for their teacher, they finally condemned him to be confined to the slave prison with the most heavy burden of iron. In the same place we found him still bound with vigorous wounds on his back, and invited him to our company through the same time, in which we were dispossessed.[xlvii] For the most blessed Perfectus the presbyter- whom Ioannes, about whom we have mentioned, succeeded to the bonds and beatings [/killings]-[xlviii] was violently dragged to the suffering, after he approached the prison, and marked by divine intervention he was armed to wage battle, in such a way that turning necessity into will, and considering that force to be with certain heavenly regard by which he might be deemed worthy of martyrdom, he was wholly raised up into the upper realms. He was also alienated from those present, he awaited the benefits of things to come and having no share in everything mundane, he was drawn to those things which have been promised to those who love God, and he was chosen as the martyr to be. From here dead to this life and living to God, finally the confessor of his own will and the most brave athlete asserted in the presence of the judge that which he had initially denied he had said, as he chose more to die for truth, as he took up from there the occasion of bringing forth the justice of God to the peoples and detesting the adversary of the faith, than to drag himself away from such a great prize by denying the truth.
Therefore the spontaneous and violent rushing to the suffering of these two men compelled the rest to come forth into one and the same consensus of fighting, because they were not ambiguous about the crown, as they had also known that those dragged forth by force had seized the crown of the eternal kingdom. So in this order, by which it was explained in the preface of this volume, all the crowd of the saints running to the palaestra of the struggle repudiated the adversary of God and the adversary of justice, with all praising Christ with the greatest voice. Relying on his such great virtue they shone in the struggle, such that in no way within did they fear earthly punishment, because, illustrated with the grace of the greatest Redeemer, they had known more to fear the eternal torment. This also I have explained in the beginning of the book, so that it should not be lacking to the considerations of posterity what matter brought forth death to our confessors, and by the hatred of what matter the heathens, aroused into the most grievous anger, moved such great monstrous fury to destroy those professing such things. From there also the most prudent readers could easily notice how deservedly this little works labours in the praises of the blessed, placing bars on the unfaithful and doubters, who deny that these people should be honoured in the rank of the martyrs.
But the bodies of the same saints, who were killed in the first conflict, were fixed by the heathens to racks with feet turned after the sixth day of their execution, that is: on the day before the Ides of June.[xlix] In an unexpected crime of cruelty, with all the putridness already gone, they condemned the bodies to fierce fires, so that they could not display the exertions of their virtues to the Christians. The base ashes which they had been able to gather from the fireplace were buried in the ultimate abyss of the threatening riverbed.
The whole group of the heathens also pressed on in springing forward and attacking the cult of piety, because (they thought) in avenging its own people it gave no reproach to its adversaries. But they rejoiced because (they thought) that they had brought low the bodies of so many despised people in vengeance for their teacher, with no new phenomena of signs in opposition that could strike horror into the wicked people. And they said: 'If indeed he is God, in whose name you submit yourselves to such great calamity and believe that this is true martyrdom, and if this prophet of ours has been bound with no truth of prophecy, why do you not bring on any sort of terror of portents to the followers and shine with any sort of small signs to the crowd standing around? Indeed while you destine yourselves to improvident death on account of some superfluous assertion and you distinguish yourselves with no power of miracles, which may be able to break our opinion brought to destroy you, you also bring no cost to our group, while you hardly help your own faction. This prophet is the one who, as the same man taught, was permitted by the instruction of the angel Gabriel to preach the word of God to the peoples and the whole world: a law which his cult followers considered was promulgated by the document of the same angel. The crude first man, when he still once lived in paradise, observed his name noted in the heavens above, and mixed with a group of shining clarity. He is thus said to have asked the Creator of Adam what was that light more prominent than the rest and shining in the centre, which was appeasing the Lord by its glows. The Lord is said to have responded: This is the true prophet to come in the world, who arising from your seed with the very name at whose beaming you are astonished will be called Mahomad. By his merits also you have deserved to exist as a creation.'
And on account of this very thing the martyrdom did not seem to be true to most of the people of little thought among our own, because (they thought) it did not show some miracle to confound the infidels and strengthen the faithful. But they do not know that in the end of time, as Saint Gregorius reports in the book of Moralia, the signs of powers will be absent from the church. He says: 'Indeed in the terrible order of the hidden disposition, before Leviathan should appear in the damned man whom it assumes, the signs of powers will be taken away from the holy church, for prophecy is to be hidden, the grace of healings is to be taken away, the power of the extended abstinence is to be diminished, the words of the doctrine are to fall silent, the portents of the miracles are to be removed. Indeed the dispensation above in no way removes these things from the bottom, but these things are not to be shown openly and in multiplicity as in prior times. Nonetheless this is done with wonderful dispensation, so that together from divine matter piety and justice may be fulfilled at the same time. For while the holy church appears as though it is rather abject when the powers of signs are taken away, there grows the reward of the good ones, who honour it for the hope of things in heaven and not because of the present signs, and there is shown more quickly against it the mind of the evil ones, who neglect to follow the unseen things which it promises, while they are not held by visible signs.' So the signs of the powers are not given to all and are not to be exercised everywhere at any time, because also these people who have accepted this gift by divine intervention are unable to pay it out except to those proven in hope and faith. As the evangelist narrates: 'And Jesus could not work any powers among them because of the lack of faith of those people.'[l] And the Truth through itself: 'There were,' he says, 'many lepers in Israel under Elisaeus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.'[li] For when the faith of those who seek ends, the largess of those who pay out is shaken. For thus says the same Lord when as the consoler he encounters the most ardent vows very often of the many: 'Go in peace, your faith makes you saved.' But when faith is lacking, power accomplishes nothing. Very often, when the faith of the people languishing makes demands, men who are spurious and corrupted in mind are bestowed. As it is read in the Gospel about those people who are to complain in the future before the doors of the Lord, saying: 'Oh Lord, oh Lord, surely in Your name we prophesised and in Your name we cast out demons and in Your name we displayed many powers?' But the Lord is to say to them: 'I have not known you. Depart from me, oh workers of iniquity.' [lii] And again: 'There will arise false-Christs and pseudoprophets, and they will give many signs and wonders in such a way as to lead the chosen into error, if it is possible.'[liii] And in Exodus: 'And the magicians did exactly the same as Moyses through their incantations.'[liv]
Indeed the signs of the miracles once through his servants did the Lord display at the right time to the world, because with foreknowing divinity he knew that those things benefit people who were nonetheless expecting them and he had known that the workers of powers were not running into vanity, so that those who rejected the salutary precepts of the sacred law at least might yield to the new aspects of the portents. And it was in those times sufficiently congruent that the martyrs of God should gleam with the signs of powers, because they were trying to make sure that the original Christianity that had spread should become firm with solid roots in the hearts of the believing peoples, first with the instruction of words, then with the exhortation of the scriptures, then with the display of signs, and then also with outstanding trophies of sufferings.[lv] So it can be easily noticed from comparison of those things that were done by the apostles that not in every time, as has been related above, is it appropriate for there to be exercise of signs, and not all are worthy of contemplating the heavenly powers. When they wanted to preach the good news to the Asians, they were prohibited by the Holy Spirit.[lvi] And he who had previously ordered to declare the Gospel to every creature knew that there was no one in Asia worthy of seizing the kindness of the Gospel. So he prevented the disciples by the presaging authority of divinity from salvation of those people, seeing as they were to reject with arrogant spirit the word of life and did not listen, but rather they rejected.
In short while the providence of God works miracles either on account of the faith of the believers or on account of the belief that will come from those standing around, we ought not to be so much amazed in admiration of them as to consider with foreseeing thought if the effectors of the same signs, when the vices of customs are driven out, excel in goodness; if dead in this world they are living to God; if on account of that true kindness, which exceeds all gifts of charismas, all the affections of the world weigh for nothing; if they bring back the accepted power not to their own glory, but to the benefit of the comparer; if with the attentive ears of the heart and seizing the admonition of the true teacher, they do not exalt in the fact that demons are subjected to them, but they exalt that their names have been written in the heavens.[lvii] And thus this reckoning of powers in the authors of those wonders should be admired rather than the effect of the signs and because it is more a sample preview of going to seek the kingdom, not indeed because it shows us as bearers of signs and marks to the common people. For the sanctity and fear of the Lord and the cult of the kingdom of heaven only proceed from the suitable and perfect, but both the saints and the spurious can make signs and wonders, which even sometimes bring together nothing other than the empty fame of men. From here it follows that he who has been notable to men, will go to be damned to eternal punishments unless he is just. But that man who has been marked with celestial grace and has lived as a saint under the fame of his Creator, even if he is unknown to mortals, nonetheless is to be counted in the future joys of the saints.
And even as we thus follow miracles, we do not disavow within the signs that were brought to certain people by heavenly gift and were ordained at the congruent time through the dispensation of God to the nations, but we come to oppose the barks of the mad dogs, who attempt to make empty the intention of our martyrs, while they hope to disprove them concerning miracles. We show to all from the authority of the divine books and the words of the holy fathers what must be followed. We do not- may it be absent- extirpate from the foundations the charismas of the heavenly gifts.
And so the root and foundation of all powers and the sign of victory are faith, through which the just live, through which all the saints 'have conquered the kingdoms, worked justice, obtained promises, closed the mouths of the lions, extinguished the assault of the fire, put to flight the battle line of the sword, have recovered from infirmity, and have been made strong in war.'[lviii] These saints truly follow the footsteps of these people as they profess with intrepid confession God and the Lord Jesus Christ in the council of the chieftains, and also reject every prophecy which the evangelical authority does not receive, detesting and cursing it as the work of thieves and thugs. For this reason, in the unheard furies of savagery, that crowd of heathens gnashing the teeth, sends forth all by the punishment of the sword to heaven the presbyters, priests, confessors and blessed virgins. And those were held by such profession, soon hurried amid the beheadings to revile in public the prophet of those people and deride his cult. And lest they should show that there was any humanity inside them, they left unburied before the doors of the palace several, whom they had compelled under the testimony of the truth to go beyond the limit of this life through the punishing sword. They ordered for them to be displayed to the dogs, with guards put in place at the same time, lest any of the Catholics by the intuition of piety should even bury the corpses stripped of flesh, as if they- whose souls enjoyed the resting place of paradise- should feel the punishment of the persecutor, or the punishment of temporal torments brought on the bodies should stand in the way of souls reigning in heaven. And those, who knew in truth, were able to show care for the unburied limbs, because just as nothing would be more convenient for the impious than a burial solemnly prepared with the increased zeal of reverence, so obtaining a cheap burial or none at all could in no way be detrimental to the blessed and the saints. Indeed it was allowed for the poets to play plausibly on this matter:
'He who has no urn is covered by the sky.'
There is a very large proportion of the faithful and- alas- even priests who do not fear to take away rashly the glory of these confessors. They order for them not to be received in the catalogue of saints, asserting that martyrdom of this sort is indeed useless and profane, on the grounds no governmental violence compelled them to deny their faith and did not move them away from the cult of the holy and pious religion, but rather they offered themselves by their own will to a crisis on account of their pride- so they say- which 'is the beginning of every sin':[lix] so having been killed they became guilty of murdering their own souls. Also they believe that they are to be refuted by the Gospel's precepts, in which it is said: 'Love your enemies, do good to these people who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you and utter calumnies against you, so that you may be the sons of your Father, who is in the heavens.'[lx] And again: 'Do not strike anyone and do not bring calumny';[lxi] and: 'Indeed while the Lord was cursed, he did not curse, while he suffered, he did not threaten; but he handed himself to the judge who judged unjustly.'[lxii] Also they add that from the apostle: 'And those who curse will not possess the kingdom of God.'[lxiii]
Bringing forth these things and the like with evil-bearing mouth against the soldiers of God, they pervert the hearts of the many, because the words of the heretics creep as gangrene into the minds of the humble[lxiv] and by the modest ferment of crime the huge mass of bread is corrupted, and very quickly the lethal assertion of Zabulus disturbs the sons of God, about whom the blessed apostle says: 'For certain people wandering astray have been converted to false talk, wishing to be the doctors of the law, not knowing what they say nor about what things they affirm.'[lxv] And again: 'They have taught their tongue to speak falsehood; they have laboured to act unjustly,'[lxvi] not fearing to diminish the glory of the brave, who now in the presence of their king undoubtedly raise high the standard of his victory. And they have not been content to understand the scriptures with false sense, but they expound on them as they please, while on the surface of the literature they have found testimonies as though they concord with their madness. So they not merely use these texts simply in Christian manner and explore the power of their sense from more erudite people, but as though they are messengers of something unheard and sciolists of some new thing through the forum, through the streets, through the crowd, through the market days with hardened forehead they bring forth the same texts at the top of their tongues and enumerate them, and they bring forth the opinions singing, and so that they may be more easily recognised of which faction they are defenders, through the side alleys of their intelligence they twist the truth of the scripture and abandon the thread of the sound doctrine to the proper judgement of the election of the believers, so eventually there will turn out for them- to the annihilation of their souls- that which the prophet brings not without the gravest indignation when he says: 'Woe to you who say bad is good and good is bad, making darkness light and light darkness, making bitter sweet and sweet bitter.'[lxvii] That is, they mix the clarity of the sacred law with the depraved error of lack of knowledge and through incorrect conjecture they convert its sweetness into the bitterness of fallacy, and they infect with malevolent conjectures that which is good and pious. They consider us to be devoid of understanding of those testimonies, by which they think that the most victorious intention of the holy martyrs is diminished and attempt to weaken our opinion about them, which has always exalted in the praise of those people. This is so since we are already believed to share in their sufferings by rather evident signs, provided that after we have endured for the sake of their profession both the prisons and bonds in addition to the losses of things, we have finally escaped by the grace of their intercession and God's favour.
In short the very saints, who goaded by divine intervention assailed this disaster of the body for the sake of the profession of truth, turned themselves in no way from guardianship of the aforementioned mandates. This is because while they loved their enemies on account of God, worried greatly as they were for their salvation, did not cease to refute, lest they should be held back longer in the labyrinth of impiety. And while they did good to these people who have hated Christ, they seemed to instruct better their madness through the pouring of blood than through the words of doctrine, so that having abandoned the falsehood of superstition, they should rush not only to believe in Christ, but also to struggle for him all the way to death. Without doubt, through prayers and entreaties, they obtained with the Lord the salvation of the souls of those, who often and incessantly make false calumny against the limbs of the Church. Therefore brought up in the example of the true teacher, when they were dragged to the suffering, they were cursed but did not curse back, they were whipped but did not murmur, they were threatened but did not keep silent. They only reviled that, which brings reproach against God, and which assails the tremendous majesty: that is, the sacrilegious prophethood of that most false and lost fellow,[lxviii] who armed with the diabolical spirit did not fear to insert himself in the place of the prophets, and to add himself to the holy preachers as a deific evangeliser. The evangelical truth was preeminent in almost the whole world and the light of the Christian faith was not lacking from the notification of the peoples, because its sound had gone out into every land, as the waters of baptism were open already to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for the ablution of the sinner and the woman in menstruation.[lxix] This was especially so in the East where the mystery of the incarnation of Christ worked in some way with special effect, where also this most wicked prophet arose and was raised. Seized by some insanity, even as the lamps were already shining in the world, he did not fear to give himself headlong to such a great trap of perdition and did not fear himself to become irreverently the murderer of such great souls, since it has been written: 'The mouth that lies, kills the soul.'[lxx] About him Zacharias the prophet once spoke saying: 'On that day says the Lord of the armies: I will obliterate the names of the idols from the earth and they will no longer be remembered, and I will take away the pseudoprophets and the unclean spirit from the earth. And if anyone should prophesy after that, his father and his mother who begot him will say to him: You will not live, because you have spoken falsehood in the name of the Lord. And his begetters will destroy him, when he prophesies.'[lxxi] So it is the virtue of the honoured crown to resist this lost and most spurious prophet and it is the greatest trophy to overturn the cult of such a great derider, in such a way that if our age had that superstitious person, in no way would the Christians have to shrink back from his demise, let alone that it should not be worthy to attack the mad dogma of the man today, to curse his sect and to detest his opinion, as he has brought perdition to such a great multitude and condemned it to the eternal abyss. And, as I think, it would then be better to bear the regret of one slain contemptible fellow than to cleanse the ruin of so many nations, as they think that one must appropriately the interest of the whole flock, while they had tried to tear out the contagion of one cattle from the middle. So just as it is not without blame to curse the just, to persecute the pious, to prepare adversity for the elect, so I believe it to be of great merit to overturn the impious, to oppose the enemies of the church, to prepare war on the infidels and slay the adversaries of the faith with the spear of the word of God, so that as per the psalmist, armed as we are with perfect hatred and arising against those who hate God, we should not care about the enmity of those, to whom impiety is a friend. For not without blame does the doctrine of the fathers allow such people to be when they are inactive in disgraceful silence towards the dogmas of the heretics and do not go out from the region to meet the enemies of the faith or do not exercise vengeance with the zeal of the Creator against the heretics. The rhetor Arnobius[lxxii] says this well as he was interpreting the 139th psalm: 'He who spares the arch-heretic or preachers of falsehood and does not butcher them with the sword of his faith, who can dispute that there will happen to him that which happened to Saul? Or he who thinks that he is to show his mercy on the heretics who remain, who is to likewise deny that he is to be excluded from God's kingdom, just as Saul was proved to have been excluded from the human kingdom?' He who spares in false mercy the Amalecites suddenly has lamented that he has been deprived of the blessing of God and the sceptre of the kingdom.[lxxiii] And if this is promised to those who do not resist the contradictors of the truth, what and of what kind will be the punishment of revenge for those who disparage the elect? Because not only do they not wish to fight the heretics, but also bound with the arms of the curses they confront those who fight.
Moreover they say that they should not be martyrs or considered as such as they were not dragged with violence to the martyrdom, but coming out of their own free will they brought scorn to these people who (they say) did not trouble them in any way. So they think of these things as constituting no trouble: the tearing down of basilicas, the acts of scorn towards the priests and the tribute that we pay every lunar month with heavy grief,[lxxiv] in such a way that the profit of death is more convenient to us than the laborious crisis of this most poor life. If therefore it is hateful to God to curse the devil and his minister, then in vain does the church make use of exorcisms against every diabolic incursion. Or is it that it has been forbidden for the domestic servants of the faith to curse and it does not behove any pusillanimous person from the limbs of the church to cause scandal, therefore it is not necessary to curse the guest of the devil and the dwelling house of Satan? And where it has been written: 'Cursed are all who reject you, Jerusalem, and all who blaspheme you; cursed are all who hate you and all who have spoken a harsh word against you' etcetera, does no one doubt that this has been said for the church? And who among all the persecutors of the faithful has persecuted the church more than this wicked man? Who has brought about as much destruction of the Catholics as this evil man? Indeed, as I have said, none of us enters safely among them, none of us remains at peace, none of us goes through their enclosure without being dishonoured. For whenever a necessity of a familiar matter compels us to go into the public and on account of pressing domestic necessity one has to leap forth from the corner of our hut into the forum: as soon as they notice the signs of the sacred order on us, soon with the acclamation of derision they attack us as mad and foolish people, in addition to those everyday mockeries of boys, for whom it is not sufficient to bring the reproach of the tongue, to heap up the disgraces of the buffooneries, but also they do not cease to harass us from behind with stones. I should also add the fact that they insult our venerable sign, because whenever the coinciding time of singing psalms requires giving the sign to the faithful, and the overhanging hour of prayer demands making the accustomed sign to the peoples: as soon as these people led astray by the lying superstition hear the clanging of the metal bell, they do not hesitate to move their tongues into every cursing and filth. Therefore those who shape their followers with such great hatred against the lot of God are not cursed incongruously. Often we have false calumny incessantly brought against us by them and for the sake of their religion we endure savagery everywhere, in such a way that many of them deem us unworthy of touching their garments and curse any approach in proximity to them, thinking it a great contamination if we should mix in any of their affairs. And indeed the soldiers of God have more professed the truth in their presence rather than flinging curses, serving the precepts of the true teacher by which he had once shaped his disciples, saying: 'For he who has professed me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will profess this person, when he comes in the glory of his Father and the holy angels.'[lxxv] Who is that person who is so mad as to disparage the praises of the blessed who oppose the worshippers of impiety in defence of justice? It had been rightly said to them: 'Behold, I send you as sheep in the middle of the wolves. Be therefore prudent as serpents and innocent as doves.'[lxxvi] I think that this is the sense of this precept, that the faithful deer mixed with the heathen peoples should be compelled to bear the savagery of the wolves as though endowed with the innocence of the sheep. And lest, given to sluggishness, they should fall rather easily into the cunnings of the enemy, they are congruously advised by divine intervention that they should always rely on the sound caution of faith with the adversaries and be everywhere upright and on guard against the tricks of the enemies, lest their senses, led astray by the words of the depraved doctrine, should immediately be corrupted and depart from justice. Moreover the Christians are advised: exhibit yourselves to your brothers and the domestic servants of the faith, 'as ministers of God in much patience, in forbearance, in good-will, in the Holy Spirit, in kindness not forged, in the word of truth, in the power of God; through the arms of justice from the right hands and left hands, through glory and ignobility, through infamy and good fame, as seducers, and truthful people, as unknown people, and known people, as those who die, but behold we live.'[lxxvii] And again: 'But be in turn kind, merciful, giving in turn just as god also gave to us in Christ'-[lxxviii] so that indeed following the simplicity of doves, you may strive for the salvation of those nearest to you also by the same intuition by which you strive for your own. Concerning the constancy, simplicity, fortitude, discretion and prudence of these people, Eusebius the bishop of Caesarea[lxxix] in covering the history of the Church's affairs says: 'Therefore were the martyrs of Christ humble among their brothers, exalted among their persecutors, gentle to their own people, terrible to their adversaries, subjected to Christ, upright against the devil.' But also Arnobius, about whom we have mentioned above, discussed something similar to this on the same psalm, saying: 'Therefore act and fight with the fighters; and if you demand help from the kind, show yourself fighting back. The tongues that the heretics sharpen as serpents fight against you; so you be cunning as a serpent against these things, and show yourself to be innocent as a dove to your fellow citizens- that is, the Catholics- alone, but be more cunning against the heretics and all these serpents who come against the truth. Do not be afraid. You have been ordered as such by the Lord. Cunning against malice is as good as kind simplicity concerning justice. Kill the heretics and slay the enemies of your Lord with the spiritual sword.'
Thus without doubt the blessed martyrs Emeterius and Celedonius,[lxxx] when they gasped to hand over their lives for the Lord, drove themselves as they stood with such exhortation to the suffering: 'Let the brandished profession strike the enemy everywhere with its missiles and let us look for the hidden enemy of the faith, wherever he may be.' Oh incomparable magnanimity and fortitude to be admired, to be praised and to be imitated from the saints! Indeed, even if the enemy is sluggish and ceases to persecute the church of God, nonetheless we are ordered to break into his hiding place and incite him to war, so that the strenuous struggler may inflame the cold enemy, bring forth the one who hides and elevate the inactive one to the planting of the struggles. And although he falls down with poured out blood and laid low limbs, nonetheless the warring spirit will bear to the captured seat of the Father a triumph from the enemy as it intends to take possession of the laurel wreath of victory, because in it is the outstanding strength of the soldier proven, because not after being sought has he offered himself to the palaestra of martyrdom, as the sacred scripture attests: 'Those of you who have offered yourselves by your own will to the crisis, bless the Lord.' If therefore with the zeal of our kindness he should meet our adversaries as the faithful fighter, take up arms, rage with swords and hurry to put his life on the line, in no way would we allow him to be exempt from the worthy offerings and we would think that his generosity ought to be rewarded with generous benefit. In such a case, with how much honour of greater glory ought to be carried those who have been killed by a cruel death in the attempt to seize the grace of the eternal King, augmented as they are by the strength of justice, while also resisting to the point of death the hostile ones? In short that angel of truth and heralder of justice, the precursor of the Redeemer and the messenger of peace, John the Baptist, when he was warning the unjust king about the disgrace of Herodias and when he prevented him from violating his brother's marriage through adulterous incest, he was driven away because of the profession of the truth to the slave prison and there away from any persecution of the faith he was beheaded.[lxxxi] And he did not refuse to succumb to such a loss, as he had undoubtedly known through the revelation of the divine spirit that it was just as much to die on account of justice as to be laid low for the confession of faith. And so the Lord administering the vital precepts of doctrine to his disciples thus addressed them from the mount: 'Blessed are those who endure persecution on account of justice, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.'[lxxxii] And what else ought to desired for all the rewards of blessedness than the kingdom of the heavens?
Also the enemies make a false charge against the voluntary progression to the death of those, whom the generosity of the king had ordered to dwell openly in their Christianity. But there preceded this I think an example in the seven brothers, whom the deeds of the blessed Iulianus[lxxxiii] commemorate. They were very distinguished in the commemoration of the Augustalia, so they freely exercised their practice of the Catholic religion by the decree of the emperors. But nonetheless when they saw the blessed Iulianus sweating in the struggle, immediately they jumped forth to the war and sought out the voluntary death in love of martyrdom.[lxxxiv] Also it is read concerning the Lord in the Gospels: 'He strengthened his face so that he might go into Jerusalem,' which Saint Hieronymus[lxxxv] thus explains: 'The one voluntarily heading to the suffering needs to have strengthening of himself and fortitude. Thus Ezechiel, to whom God had said: 'Oh son of man, you dwell in the middle of the scorpions, do not be afraid.[lxxxvi] Strengthen your face. And I have rendered your face bronze and your forehead of iron,'[lxxxvii] so that if by chance the hammer of the whole earth had arisen against him he would resist as though with the strongest anvil and break apart the hammer. About him it has been written: 'How has the hammer of the whole earth been smashed and broken apart?'[lxxxviii] Also the same teacher in the aforementioned work expounds on the same opinion of the Gospel and says: 'Profession of God is not dainty and secure: he who believes in Me must pour out his blood. For he who loses his life in the present will gain it in the future.' In short when Agabus the prophet had come to the apostles taking off the belt of Paul, he bound his own feet and hands and said: 'The Holy Spirit says these things: The Jews will thus bound in Jerusalem a man whose belt is this and hand him into the hands of the heathens. When the apostles had heard this and what places were of that man, they prayed with tears that he would not go up into Jerusalem. Then responding Paul said: 'What are you doing crying and afflicting my heart? For I have been prepared not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem on account of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when they could not persuade him, they calmed down saying: 'The will of the Lord has been, let it be.'[lxxxix]
So also the most blessed Felix,[xc] when by faithful relation he came to know of the persecution of the Catholics, which was being waged at the city of Gerunda of Hispania[xci] on the border with Gallia, and when he got to know that the church of God was being attacked in the same place by the pagans, he immediately abandoned the study of refined literature, which he was carrying out after being stationed in Caesarea of Mauritania.[xcii] He then crossed the sea on an eager sea journey and approached the aforementioned town and there as a devoted soldier of Christ he triumphantly consummated the martyrdom, which was lacking from his native land. Thus Saint Sebastian,[xciii] thus the most blessed Thyrsus, thus the elected Adrianus,[xciv] thus Iustus and Pastor,[xcv] thus Eulalia the Barcinonensian virgin,[xcvi] thus Babilas the pontifex[xcvii] and many others willingly offered themselves and were crowned.[xcviii] And thus, as one of the wise men recalls, 'among the first dignities of the kingdom of heaven are to be placed those who came to the suffering not as they were sought out, and it is the mark of the excellent vow to jump forth amid the torments where it is not the mark of crime to have hidden oneself.'
But in truth it is to be professed that to be in hiding is a crime, if the virtue of excellent merit is to proceed forth when the profession of our faith requires preaching and demands testimony. For if, when the word of truth is heard, the disbeliever does not accommodate the faith and rebukes the evangeliser rather than believing, when he is without blame before having got to know the truth, he then becomes answerable to the holy preaching, because he will not be able to excuse himself on grounds of ignorance, when the truth composed by lamplight responds, as the Lord and teacher attests: 'Remember my words which I have said to you. The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my words, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and had not spoken to them, they would not have sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin.'[xcix]
The adversaries also charge corruption of the same bodies. But, I beseech, let them responds: what is there to oppose those now crowned with the heavenly reward? As if they strove for honour of the flesh! Rather they had truly known that the law was once brought to the mortals, by which it was said to Adam: 'You are dust and you will be returned to dust'[c] either through the punishments of the tyrants, to whom it was granted the ability to kill the body, or whenever one should accept the end, because 'all flesh is grass and its glory is like the flower of the field.'[ci] And when it says 'all,' it has left out the flesh of no one that arises from human seed, and although with audacity, I will nonetheless say: not of the patriarchs, not of the prophets, not of the apostles, and not of the martyrs. Let those who imagine such things read the acts of the apostles, and they will find, per Peter's testimony, that David the one chosen by God and the most faithful servant in accordance with His heart endured the corruption of the burial. In these words the apostle explains: 'Oh brothers, although with audacity, I will say concerning the patriarch David that he both died and was buried: his tomb is still with us today and his flesh saw corruption.'[cii] Let them consider the patriarch Job gushing with worms[ciii] and Lazarus of the Gospel full of sores who begged before the doors of the rich adorned with purple.[civ] Let them peruse the glowing deeds of the various victories of the rest of the saints like the stars of heaven and let the sacrilege religious one of them insult, if it dares, their putrid limbs consumed by the pains of torments and punishments. But this temporal corruption of the bodies brings loss in no way to the souls of the saints; nonetheless this unharmed material of flesh will be of no use to the unjust in the future. So why should they be perplexed with false concern about the integrity of the bodies, when they had truly known that all temporal health also perishes with the world itself and the maxim of death brought to the first man Adam applies in general to all mortals: 'You are dust and you will be turned back into dust?' For the saints who have no share in that law, because in their land- that is, the Jerusalem of heaven- they are to obtain the double rewards, and do not give great weight to corporeal loss. For they truly recognise and believe that in the general resurrection of men, regardless of the weakenings, places, caverns and caves and most hidden secret of other elements by which their bodies melted away and perished, they are to be restored at the right time and reintegrated by legal authority, so that indeed the saints rejoicing in the double reward will destroy the impious and sinners through two-fold confusion.
Thus I beseech you, oh our holy brothers and blessed sisters in Christ: do not be troubled by the assertions of the idiots, and do not believe the conjectures and be moved with the slightest bit of uneasiness (may it be absent) against the soldiers of God. For these are the people who are not marked by any ardour for the pious religion and thus not only cannot support the truth, but also cannot defend the holy faith, which they deal with lightly and not with the deep foundation of belief in their hearts. They prefer to be disparaging if anyone should die of his own will because of the faith rather than grieving if more should recede away from it and run into the trap of prevarication. And from here they slip towards the easy sacrilege of impiety, while these people do not fear to condemn without discipline that which has been justified by God. About them it has been written: 'And the impious will act impiously and all the impious will not understand.'[cv] Like salt deprived of taste, they should be cast forth out from the gathering of the Catholics and tramped by all and as an infertile grove they should be cut with the axe of Gospel and delegated to the perpetual fire.
One must consider, brothers, to what loss will be subjected the one who does not fear to defame the praise of such great victory, who comes to oppose the triumphs of so many men. Indeed these people, not unmindful of the apostolic preaching, have not been ashamed to bring forth openly the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of the holy Gospel to confound the impious teacher and his cult followers. They had recognised that he was a major figure of the pseudoprophets once noted in the mouth of the Lord through the Gospel, as he ordered the apostles to be attentive with cautious circumspection. As he said: 'See to it that no one misleads you. For many pseudoprophets will come in my name and mislead many.'[cvi] And we out of fear of losing temporal honour, decry as heretics those whom we do not honour as martyrs. Woe to those who pursue those things, woe to those who thinking good is bad and turning light into darkness, pursue also with hidden insults that which they have refuted in open blasphemies. They have done such things so that the due reverence should not be shown to the ones, who coming with rather unyielding spirit against the enemy of the faith in blasphemous mouth have been consumed with worthy revenge, and are ordered to be condemned with the proceedings of anathemas through various places so that the rest should not rush from different directions to the palaestra of this sort. If therefore in their thinking the Lord drags away the reward from those people, because they have waged open and spontaneous war against the enemy of the religion, how much further away from the share of the eternal King will be those who do this everyday with hidden murmurings, weighed down as they are by the fear of flesh? Is this preaching really lacking from our mouth? Is the profession of the Catholics really devoid of such proclamation?
Therefore one must entirely resist the adversaries of justice and in no way should bodily death be put off for the defence of the truth. For deservedly is this exercised by those, who have been illustrated by divine intervention with the augmented virtue of magnanimity and judge the fruit of the struggle more fertile than the venture of secure profession, not in the meantime despising within the weak limbs of the church. As has been written: 'Indeed the spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.'[cvii] And not to be dragged violently to this stadium are those have not been goaded by divine intervention. For it has been written: 'He who can seize, let him seize.'[cviii] And again: 'Many will be chosen and purified and proven as though by fire'[cix]- not all. Thus with the limits of the gifts, which each person recognises are in him by the dispensation of God, should each person be content and he should not rashly strive for an attempt beyond the measure of the gift brought together. Hence it is appropriate that the one who is not unaware that he is devoid of strength to wage the battle and considers himself to be less capable by his own judgement, should not ready the battle-line for the enemy and should not resist those from the region preparing by their own free will. This is so that the just revenge of detraction should not have to find to be punished the one whom the struggles have not prepared and the fear of waging war makes timid. As has been written: 'Every idle word that men have spoken, they will render an account of it on the day of judgement.'[cx] So if every idle talker will come to be condemned in judgement, by what opinion will the defamer of the saints be punished? So the one who is not ignorant of himself and does not pursue the great things, let him not oppose those climbing to higher things, and let the one who cannot contemplate the sublime things cling to the bottom depths and things sloping down to the ground, as is found in Salomon: 'Do not investigate things higher than you and do not seek out things more profound than you.'[cxi] And consequently the philosopher Cato[cxii] infers:
Have a go with effort at what you are capable of, lest the labour pressed down with weight should succumb and you abandon things attempted in vain.
Certainly if hell holds certain people who openly professed those things which are holy, then much more do those who preach the truth in hiding possess the confined spaces of the depths below, because if the struggle of the palaestra opposes the asserters of justice, certainly nothing will benefit those who profess the truth in secret. And what religious mind is to believe this insanity, that the truth in reproaching evil should come into disgrace because we are not violently dragged to the heathen evil, and the justice itself that brings open rebuke against the author of the crime should not have the martyr's reward, because we are freely allowed to hold the banner of the Christian faith by the cult followers of the same prophet, among the privileges granted by their kingdom? It is as though one is to delegate to their patience the fact that we practise our faith among them without trouble, rather than that having to be attributed to the divine dispensation, which preserved the patriarchs, the prophets and their apostles among the savageries of the heathen peoples, extolled them with honours and made them sublime with dignities. Indeed consoling the disciples with the pious hope of promises he says: 'Behold I am with you for all days until the consummation of the age.'[cxiii] For this reason not by the benevolence of this impious people, into whose power, on account of our sinful crimes, the sceptre of Hispania was transferred after the destruction and uprooting of the kingdom of the Goths (which previously flourished with the most blessed cultivation of the Christian faith, flourished with the dignity of the venerable priests and glowed with admirable construction of the basilicas), but by the grace of its Redeemer and His assiduous accompaniment does the church need to be protected. As he said: 'As lilies among thorns, thus is my friend among the daughters.'[cxiv] And again: 'In the middle of the depraved and perverse nation, among whom you shine as luminaries in this world.'[cxv]
But those who feel these things with obstinate mind about the martyrs of God and do not fear to mutilate the glory of the saints with impure tongues, have known that they are to perform the causes with the same saints in the future agony, and unless fruitful satisfaction precedes, they must render an account before the court of the Lord. For with what front will this person then look on the face of those people clarified with the glory of the suffering in the dwelling of the eternal King on account of the merit of the constancy of those gathered, whom he has attacked with such great blasphemies, lacerated with such great insults and afflicted with such great injustices? 'Then indeed when the just stand in great constancy against those, who afflicted them and did not honour the glory of their martyrdom and who took away their labours, then I think, seeing this they will be disturbed with horrible terror and wonder at the suddenness of the unexpected salvation and will say among themselves as they make penance and lamenting on account of the anguish of the spirit: These are those we once derided and subjected to a proverb of reproach. We- deprived of sense- deemed their lives to be insanity and their end to be without honour. Behold how they have been reckoned among the sons of God and their lot has been found among the saints.'[cxvi]
I would like the deriders of the soldiers of Christ to respond to me: whether love of death led them to death or not more the love of Paradise compelled them to go to the punishment so that they might escape the fires of eternal death. As I think, no one would respond that the saints sought death by the intuition of dying, but so that through temporal death they might avoid the fires of the perpetual death. Thus the same remuneration will nonetheless follow them, which was the cause of dying, not the will of dying that was. Therefore let one of those people believe, say and feel what he wants. Nonetheless that party has me as a strong defender, which venerates their cult with the greatest reverence and extols their honour, and I give faithful assent under the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ in the same place where the trophy is sublimed with their particular titles. Thus I have decreed that this tract should remain to inform posterity, so that both the crowd of our age and the future may know what kind of judgement I have brought about the struggle of my martyrs.
But you, my brothers, believe with me, indeed believe with all those who piously and religiously venerate the struggles of the blessed that the martyrs who pursue such things are blessed and their souls are more blessed as they die under their testimony. Arm your breasts with the credulity of faith, loosen your mouths with the divine praises and extolling the benefits of the greatest Redeemer proclaim and say: Let our souls die with the death of the just and let our last things become similar to the ones of these people.[cxvii] He who gives power to the worn out and strengthens in the struggle by the potent right hand the power in those, for whom no strength is at hand, let him grant to me that I should serve as a soldier with these people all the way to death for him with stronger mind: these people who boil up with perfect desire in love for Him, because the intention that is exercised for the truth will not be deprived in the presence of the Lord and the death that is ordained for justice is by no means to be repudiated.' Therefore in such a conflict is Christ praised, the unjust enemy remains detested and under the same profession does the strenuous soldier receive raging killing.
So not only are those who have fallen under the blow of the sword confessing such things to be celebrated with worthy proclamation, but also those who are loved by the praises of such people are to be brought forth with worthy praise, because when the glories of the martyrs, acquired through the sufferings, are honoured and the brought forth struggles of the blessed are laid open and the due honour is restored to the martyrs and the pious minds are armed with the incentives of the examples, even if they cannot obtain martyrdom, nonetheless they will merit to be brought forth to sharing in the rewards to be honoured, so that they should obtain not unequal pay from devotion as those to whose triumphs they desire to be ascribed by the will of consciousness. For if it is the mark of perversity to accommodate the soul to the worst deeds, how is it not the mark of virtue to share in the best? And since Almighty God insinuates Himself as not only the judge of deeds, but also of vows, why would the vow always intended most piously towards the martyrs not conciliate the joys of the blessed? As the holy David approves: 'But your friends have been greatly honoured to me, oh God.'[cxviii] And again: 'He who loves you, loves me, and he who receives you, receives me.'[cxix]
In short the saints, offering their bodies to the swords, seize the eternal safety of souls, and acquiring for themselves the fellowship of the elect in the kingdom of Christ they nonetheless leave for the persecutors the fire of the eternal penance. Thus although it has been written: 'They have placed the mortal remains of your servants as morsels for the birds of the sky, the fleshes of your saints as morsels for the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood as water around Jerusalem and there was no one to perform the burial,'[cxx] it will nonetheless be to the punishment of the savagery of those who did those things, and will not turn out to the disparagement of the virtues of those who upheld such things, so that the very cruelty increases the mound of perdition for the executioners, but acquires the reward of eternal felicity for the holy martyrs. For however much these things seem to be dreadful and harsh to the gazes of men, nonetheless in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints precious.'[cxxi]
But you, oh brothers and holy sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, rejoice and exalt, because you have already sent forth the maniples of the harvest to be gathered in the granary of the Lord. Already the blessed city of Sion has the fruits of your seed; that vision of peace- the heavenly Jerusalem- has undertaken the domestic servants of your kindred in peace. Go forth secure, hurry in exultation. No one will be able to oppose your going forth, no contradictor will stand upright, and reaching the fatherland, there will proceed to your meeting not only that cohort of the saints who were recently crowned, but also the rest of the crowd of the elect, in whose fellowship these novice martyrs have been counted.
Therefore it is pleasing to me, oh brothers, to speak with you for a little in the manner of one feeling delight and endure for the sake of kindness the verbose one, whom you see is versed in the praises of the saints out of love of Christ, because so that I might escape the debt of my merits and obtain the help of the intercession of the blessed, I have decided to call this work Memoriale Sanctorum in dedication to the victories of the martyrs, so that as we share in the suffering of those bound and we venerate the friends of God, we may at least be helped by their patronages. For it is said in the psalm: 'But your friends have been honoured by me, oh God, because their principate has indeed been strengthened.' For this reason, oh most dear brothers and dear sisters, order me to be admitted to your dances of exultation, as the confession of this work does not allow me to be absent from such joys, and do not claim the patronages of the holy martyrs for yourselves only with jealous affectation, as you have known them to have undergone the hardships of the sufferings for the limbs of the whole church. But why therefore am I delighted to tarry longer in these joys, as if it is the mark of you to satisfy our desire? Certainly so that at least not without your consultation should the witnesses of God sought in the tribulation be present for us, as they remain in general agitated for the Catholic flock in the presence of the Father and his angels. And so both your people and our people are; from you they have come forth in flesh, but with us they have been reborn in the one fount of baptism. There is nothing which you may claim privately for yourselves from their glory, because we are all one in Christ. For both we have incited some of them to the battle, and if we ourselves have ceased to fight, nonetheless we have supplied the arms by which they might serve as soldiers. Indeed we have sent forward some of the kindred folks among the very martyrs into heaven. I speak of Paul the outstanding Levite, connected with us in flesh, and Sanctius[cxxii] our hearer, who in the second conflict after the blessed Isaac moved forward to Christ. But is it really the case that we alone will boast about their perfection, because we see that those we shaped and those we considered brothers have won? Let it be a common joy to all, let the monuments of the blessed men be enjoyed without discretion by all. Let us both mix the vows and with equal zeal of praises pay the libations to God, by whose gift the happy ages of the implanted time have been restored to us. Once upon a time in those most frequent tempests of persecutions the Christian church worthily received the stones with dignity as a structure for the building of that Jerusalem of heaven for the glory of God. It is by His gift the saints fight and win, seek death and live. It is by His grace the constancy of the martyrs is strengthened. It is by His power that they go forth with manly spirit whatever the savagery of the impious brings; 'because the sufferings of this time are not wholly comparable with the glory to come later, which will be revealed in them.'[cxxiii] And they are not preoccupied with what kind of death they lose this life, especially as through the defect of this life they await the felicity of the eternal kingdom.
Indeed because mediocrity is always commendable and succinct brevity pleases the reader more easily than fastidious prolonging, so the book must be closed with the final end, lest beyond the one greatest absurdity of its unrefined discourse, it should give rise to deep languor from its long verbosity for those pondering. From here I myself Eulogius- though an unworthy person praising you- oh crown of saints- as the end of the volume is now pressing- demand you make this work approved to you, sanctify it after it is accepted, and grant it to God after it has sanctified. And do not give weight to the unordered series of its narration, but considering my will rather than ability as the vow of desire, do not recompense the defect of impossibility. After all, I have made sure to offer to you the first fruits of this commentary before all the philosophers of our native land, so that I may have by its cover your patronage and I may lack every vice by your intervention, by which I may merit to find the Lord both now and forever as propitious even as He has taken offence against me for my sins. And although from there my conscience bits me as I am guilty of rather grave blame, because the uncultivated barbarism of my speech has rashly tainted things ordained in the preaching style to notify posterity, nonetheless I hope to obtain from it the remedy of such great blame, as the brevity of our ingenuity has expended all its force into your praise. But both coming to oppose the whispers of the cursers, it has laid low the battle lines of the perfidious, subverted the foundations and broken the strength. But as dogs, who with the most ardent zeal for their masters often do not cease to brawl, but rather they are provoked further in inconvenient barkings, when by chance they have been lashed by the beating of the attacker. In the same way, although we are constricted by the narrowness of the very harsh time and we are overwhelmed by imminent dangers, nonetheless we have in no way drawn the tongue from your praises, nor have we ceased from berating the perfidious ones. These things compel us to be happy with a certain hope and to remain trusting in the clemency of the good parent. And thus uncultivated speech and the cheap offering of this gift concerning the obtaining of the grace of the Redeemer will not make me despair, because I have known that the votive effort is worth more His presence than the tardy affluence of gifts. Therefore I beseech you with repeated supplication, oh soldiers of God, outstanding warriors, suitable witnesses, martyrs of Christ, perpetual fellows of the kingdom, that you join me here in this faithful servitude to God and after the debt for crimes you take away from me the opinion of vengeance in the future agony; that this book, called Memoriale Sanctorum by us, which proclaims the glorious memory of your acts, should prescribe my memory in the presence of the tribunal of the future judge by the favour of its acceptance in the lot of the sheep, by which I, having been from the left side to the right side, may merit to enjoy the aspects of the pious Redeemer without confusion and with no charge impeding I may merit to be added to that gathering, to which the same Redeemer will say with pious voice: 'Come, blessed ones of my Father, seize the kingdom prepared for you from the constitution of the world.'[cxxiv]
[ii] Matthew 5:10.
[iii] i.e. Wednesday, 3rd June 851 CE.
[iv] i.e. Sunday, 7th June 851 CE.
[v] Cf. Luke 12:32.
[vi] Ezekiel 13:5.
[vii] Ezekiel 34:3-5.
[viii] Cf. Isaiah's comparison of Israel's watchmen (leaders) to mute dogs that give no warning of danger.
[ix] Psalm 49:16.
[x] Cf. The work in defence of the martyrs, where Eulogius similarly disparages himself.
[xi] Cf. Matthew 7:6.
[xii] Psalm 80:11.
[xiii] Psalm 67:12.
[xiv] E.g. In Numbers 22:28 ff., it is related how God gave the donkey the power to speak and converse with Bal'am.
[xv] II Timothy 4:2.
[xvi] Titus 2:15.
[xvii] 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
[xviii] Referring to use of lead pipes.
[xix] Matthew 23:3-4.
[xx] Jeremiah 23:11-12.
[xxi] Deuteronomy 32:35 and quoted in Romans 12:19.
[xxii] Matthew 10:22, also cited in Eulogius' later defence of the martyrs of Córdoba.
[xxiii] A combination of Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15-16.
[xxiv] Matthew 10:28, also cited in Eulogius' later work in defence of the martyrs of Córdoba.
[xxv] Matthew 5:14-15.
[xxvi] Matthew 10:27.
[xxvii] Matthew 16:24-25.
[xxviii] Hebrews 11:37-38.
[xxix] Cf. Psalm 54:9.
[xxx] Cf. Philippians 1:23, in which Paul expresses the desire to depart and be with Christ.
[xxxi] Cf. Psalm 39:10.
[xxxii] Cf. Psalm 118:46.
[xxxiii] Cf. Judges 5:2.
[xxxiv] Galatians 1:9.
[xxxv] Cf. The repeated description of Jesus as the word of God in the Qur'an.
[xxxvi] Undoubtedly referring to the beautiful maidens described in the Qur'an.
[xxxviii] The story is related in Matthew 22:22 ff. and Luke 20:27 ff., but Speraindeo is wrong on one detail here. It was not the Pharisees who asked Jesus about this matter but the Sadducees who denied the resurrection. They asked Jesus about a scenario arising from the prescription in Mosaic law that if a man dies without offspring, then the brother should marry the widow. In the scenario, the woman ended up marrying in succession seven brothers and in each marriage there were no children. Then the woman died. The question was whose wife she would be in the resurrection.
[xxxix] Matthew 22:29.
[xl] Matthew 22:30.
[xli] There is no evidence in the Islamic literature that Prophet Muhammad ever said that he would take Mary's virginity.
[xlii] Referring to Satan.
[xliii] Luke 1:38.
[xliv] Ezekiel 44:1-2.
[xlv] This image of the battering ram of truth also occurs in Eulogius' defence of the martyrs of Córdoba.
[xlvi] John, who was a merchant. To explain the story more clearly (which may seem obscure to the reader unfamiliar with the context), he apparently used to swear by the Prophet Muhammad. One could compare this with saying 'Allahum salli ala sayyidna Muhammad'- 'Oh God bless our sayyid Muhammad'- as a phrase preceding an assertion, often used as a filler phrase. Apparently John's conduct offended some of the Muslims as they considered this behaviour to be taking his name in vain and that he was pretending to be Muslim. But his behaviours could not merit the death penalty, hence the judge's order to beat him rather than to execute him.
[xlvii] i.e. Eulogius met John in prison.
[xlviii] Depending on how one interprets the word caedes (which can mean 'killings' or 'beatings'), one could deduce from this remark that John ultimately died in prison. On review I prefer the latter translation of the word in this context.
[xlix] 12th June. Eulogius is referring here to a group of martyrs executed on 7th June 851 CE.
[l] Matthew 13:58.
[li] Luke 4:27.
[lii] Matthew 7:22-23.
[liii] Matthew 24:24.
[liv] Exodus 7:11.
[lv] These lines also appear in Eulogius' later defence of the martyrs of Córdoba.
[lvi] Cf. Acts 16:6-7, in which it is narrated that Paul and his companions were prohibited by the Holy Spirit from preaching in the province of Asia.
[lvii] Cf. Luke 10:20, in which Jesus says this remark to the seventy-two he sent out in response to their joy that the demons submitted to them in his name.
[lviii] Cf. Hebrews 11:33-34, also cited in Eulogius' later work in defence of the martyrs of the Córdoba.
[lix] Ecclesiasticus 10:15.
[lx] Matthew 5:44-45.
[lxi] Luke 3:14.
[lxii] 1 Peter 2:23.
[lxiii] 1 Corinthians 6:10.
[lxiv] Cf. 2 Timothy 2:17.
[lxv] 1 Timothy 1:6-7.
[lxvi] Jeremiah 9:5.
[lxvii] Isaiah 5:20.
[lxviii] Referring to Muhammad's claim to prophethood.
[lxix] Cf. Zechariah 13:1.
[lxx] Wisdom 1:11.
[lxxi] Zechariah 13:2-3.
[lxxii] Arnobius the Younger, who wrote a commentary on the Psalms.
[lxxiii] The reference here is to the story of King Saul, who did not fulfil God's command to destroy completely the Amalekites, as a result of which God regretted having made Saul the king of Israel (cf. 1 Samuel 15).
[lxxiv] The jizya tax.
[lxxv] Cf. Mark 8:38, though the verse is usually understood in the sense of 'whoever is ashamed of me...the Son of Man will be ashamed of him..'
[lxxvi] Matthew 10:16.
[lxxvii] 2 Corinthians 6:4 ff.
[lxxviii] Ephesians 4:32.
[lxxix] Fourth century CE bishop who wrote the Ecclesiastical History.
[lxxxi] The story is related in Mark 6.
[lxxxii] Matthew 5:10.
[lxxxiii] Saint Julian, a Christian martyr during the Diocletian persecution.
[lxxxiv] As Kenneth Baxter Wolf pointed out in Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain, this analogy does not quite work because the deaths still occurred during a period of wider Roman persecution of the Christians.
[lxxxvi] Ezekiel 2:6.
[lxxxvii] Cf. Ezekiel 3:8.
[lxxxviii] Jeremiah 50:23.
[lxxxix] Acts 21:10-14.
[xc] Saint Felix of Girona, martyred in the early fourth century CE. Note that in this time Maximian was responsible for the western areas of the Roman Empire as Diocletian's co-emperor.
[xci] The city of Girona in north-eastern Spain, close to the border with modern-day France.
[xcii] Located in modern-day northern Algeria.
[xciii] Saint Sebastian, who had served in the Roman military and was killed during the reign of Diocletian.
[xciv] I believe this refers to Saint Adrian of Nicomedia, who was killed in the early fourth century CE.
[xcv] Two Christian martyrs from Spain killed in the early fourth century CE.
[xcvi] Saint Eulalia of Barcelona, martyred during the early fourth century CE.
[xcvii] Babylas of Antioch, a bishop killed during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Decius (third century CE).
[xcviii] As is the case with the story of the seven brothers, these analogies do not quite work because all of these martyrs died during times of persecution.
[xcix] John 15:20-22.
[c] Genesis 3:19.
[ci] Isaiah 40:6.
[cii] Mostly from Acts 2:29, but the last section of the quotation (et caro eius vidit corruptionem) is taken from a following verse (Acts 2:31) and is inaccurate. For full comparison, here is the Latin Vulgate version of Acts 2:29-31 (emphasis my own in bold):
Viri fratres, liceat audenter dicere ad vos de patriarcha David, quoniam defunctus est, et sepultus: et sepulchrum eius est apud nos usque in hodiernum diem. Propheta igitur cum esset, et sciret quia iureiurando iurasset illi Deus de fructu lumbi eius sedere super sedem eius, providens locutus est de resurrectione Christi, quia neque derelictus est in inferno, neque caro eius vidit corruptionem.
('My brothers, let one speak boldly to you about the patriarch David, that he died, and was buried, and his tomb is among us up to this day. Since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him by oath about the fruit of his loins sitting over his seat, in foresight he spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned in hell, nor did his flesh see corruption.').
[ciii] E.g. See Job 7:5.
[civ] Luke 16:20.
[cv] Daniel 12:10.
[cvi] Matthew 24:4-5.
[cvii] Matthew 26:41.
[cviii] Matthew 19:12.
[cix] Daniel 12:10.
[cx] Matthew 12:36.
[cxi] Ecclesiasticus 3:22.
[cxii] The author of the Distichs, and not the more familiar Cato the Elder or Cato the Younger of Roman history.
[cxiii] Matthew 28:20.
[cxiv] Song of Songs 2:2.
[cxv] Philippians 2:15.
[cxvi] Wisdom 5:1-5, though note that in the original text there is nothing about not honouring the 'glory of their martyrdom.' The relevant verse in the Latin Vulgate version:
tunc stabunt iusti in magna constantia adversus eos qui se angustiaverunt, et qui abstulerunt labores eorum
('Then will the just stand in great constancy against those who afflicted them, and who took away their labours').
[cxvii] Cf. Numbers 23:10.
[cxviii] Psalm 138:17.
[cxix] Matthew 10:40.
[cxx] Psalm 78:2-3.
[cxxi] Psalm 115:15.
[cxxii] One of the martyrs of Córdoba, whose story will be related by Eulogius.
[cxxiii] Romans 8:18.
[cxxiv] Matthew 25:34.