The Documentum Martyriale (also called the Documentum Martyrii) can be translated as the 'teaching of martyrdom' or the 'example of martyrdom' or the 'lesson of martyrdom.' It was the first of Saint Eulogius' major works to be completed, though as becomes clear from this work and his other testimony, he had already begun the project of Memoriale Sanctorum prior to his imprisonment in late 851 CE. It was during Eulogius' time of imprisonment that he composed the Documentum Martyriale. The work is addressed to two virgins called Flora and Maria, who were imprisoned and were eventually executed on 24 November 851 CE. It was shortly after the executions that Eulogius got out of prison: an event he attributed to the intercession of the martyrs Flora and Maria.
Flora was considered an apostate since she had been born to a Muslim father though she had followed her mother's Christianity, while Maria was the sister of the deacon Walabonsus, one of the martyrs executed in summer 851 CE. Strictly speaking, Flora was to be punished for apostasy and blasphemy, while Maria was to be punished only for blasphemy, for there was no discussion of apostasy in Maria's case as she had been born to a Christian father. However, given the companionship of Flora and Maria, it seems that the two girls were dealt with as one and the same. The lives of the two virgins are documented in more detail in Memoriale Sanctorum Book Two.
The purpose of this book, in short, is to encourage the two virgins to remain committed to the cause of martyrdom and seek death for the sake of Christ, who is portrayed (figuratively of course) as the bride-groom awaiting them in the bedroom of Heaven. Thus, the girls should not retract their denunciations of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. In contrast, if the girls were to retract their earlier statements and deny that they denounced Prophet Muhammad, it would be tantamount to lying, and by not detesting that which God has detested, they would thus be guilty of a two-fold sin.
It would appear that at the time the Documentum Martyriale was composed, the final death sentence had not yet been passed on the virgins. They had apparently been threatened with the prospect of being sold into prostitution as a way to make them retract their statements and declare conversion (or 'reversion' in Flora's case) to Islam. Eulogius' warning in this regard is that they should not yield on account of such threats. If they were to be raped or be subjected to any sexual advances, they should not consent in any way. This is because the sexual acts committed by another person could not defile their chaste minds so long as they did not take any pleasure in those acts.
In this context, I should note that some of the modern scholarship on this work has been crude and unduly harsh. There is no reason to think that the above passage and Eulogius' deep contemplation of the wound of torture on Flora mentioned elsewhere in this work constitute some 'element of twisted sexual fantasy behind the imagined rape of Flora,' as John Tolan would have it. Alwyn Harrison went further and claimed that these passages and Eulogius' false assertion in the work Memoriale Sanctorum that the Prophet Muhammad claimed he would take the Virgin Mary's virginity give the impression of a 'man whose human nature struggled against the chastity of his order.' My response to this statement is that while Eulogius' human nature may have struggled against the chastity of his order, we have no way of knowing that from the evidence that has come down to us.
I would like to dedicate this work to Mara Revkin, a friend and legal scholar. Mara, I hope you will be able to return one day to the study of Latin.
The following editions of the Latin text have been consulted and checked for Biblical references in particular:
- Juan Gil, Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum (Madrid, 1973).
- Francisco de Lorenzana, SS. PP. Toletanorum Quotquot Extant Opera...Tomus Secundus (Madrid, 1785).
Below is the text in translation with notes for context. As always, any suggestions for amendments are welcome.
A depiction of Flora. Image from: Our Lady of Mercy, St.Joseph and St Anne's Catholic Parish Blog.
In the name of the Lord begins the book Documentum Martyrii of Eulogius the presbyter, which he dedicated to the virgins Flora and Maria who were confined to prison while he himself was placed in prison.
Those who prosper in abundances of things and the large profit of money, easily achieve whatever they strive for in earthly matters, but very different it is for those vexed by poverty and hunger, who scarcely manage to get their daily provision through the sweat of toil. So the rich has considered and done; the poor has failed in considering. But I am far inferior than those who labour in the lack of knowledge and the by far the last of those who have relied on the great scarcity of literary knowledge, and I have called this work Documentum Martyrii, which has been composed with my sufficiently lowly pen (I should say) and sense. So I have imbued the minds of certain virgins confined to the cave of defendants so that they may fulfil the course of the struggle, or because I have believed that it will be beneficial to others asking about other matters. Not therefore with the gleam of eloquence, that is wholly lacking to me, did I combine the material of this book, nor did I intend the charm of beautiful language in its construction but how through the virtue of this instrument I could propitiate God and absolve myself from my guilt, for it has been written: 'He who makes a sinner be converted, saves his soul and covers the multitude of his own sins.'[i] And again: 'Those who lead many to justice, will glow like stars for perpetual eternities.'[ii] From there this prologue brings a humble entreaty to present and future readers, that they should be eager to peruse with simple mind that which the simple speech brings forth and the simple intention has dictated. And if by chance they should find in some things that my opinion opposes the sound doctrine, let them ascribe that to error not to voluntary error, and let them better indulge in emendation rather than making themselves three for disparagements in reprimand, for the crime that was not committed by voluntary lapse will not be referred to the title of my blame in the presence of the Lord.
Eulogius the servant of Christ sends regards to the holy virgins Flora and Maria bound in prison:
I decided to make as the price of effort this small work necessary (as I consider) for your instruction, oh holy sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, because with God's support it will become beneficial to you and will rise in testimony for me both now and in the future judgement. Indeed I trust that the organ of my tongue will be filled with the preaching of truth through its very gift and the illustration of the Holy Spirit, and I hope that the labour of this volume that has been begun will be accomplished and sanctified by it, and I preach with words that you have done great and laudable things. I admire with senses, bring forth with letters, and profess that you have overcome men, and that you have overcome clerics. Your virtue has exceeded the outstanding monuments of men and the banner of your labour brought out in the heights gives all the teaching of how to act piously, inciting the idle to war, arming the defenceless for battle, strengthening the weak for war, urging on those who turn back with the hope of conquering to make a renewed return to the camp of the fighters, and showing the exemplary banner of dying for the truth to the whole church. Moreover may the praise of you never depart from the mouth of men; although the victory of men can be proclaimed, nonetheless the more excellent palm of women is extolled, and although there is the great sign of victory in men and in general the manly are brought out in the triumph of adorations, it must be considered however with the praise of greater admiration that women have accomplished the deeds of men, particularly as they have forgotten the fragility of their sex and do not fear to seek the high things of virtues, in which from there the vigour of the brave is wearied. Indeed on this great virtue of magnanimity did the once pious women Esther and Judith rely, as they cast themselves into the dangers of the enemies for the sake of the salvation of the people of God. For one of them persuaded the king that Aman who was contriving nefarious things to destroy Israel had to be executed,[iii] the other killed with safe shame Holophernes[iv] who was lulled to sleep through the rest of vices and thus cutting the middle of the battle-lines of the fighters with excellent victory she returned having attained her goals to see her own people.
So I beseech you, my sisters, that girded with the example of these women, you raise your bold spirit to destroy the adversary of God, and that you should save both yourselves and the group of the faithful from the traps of eternal perdition. Be eager to complete the journey you have started, because this way will lead you more easily and quickly to the bedroom of your spouse. For it is a narrow and bound path, but with compendious quickness it will make you reach the joy of your spouse in under the space of an hour. Let not the primeval eagerness to wage war be lacking from the sanctuary of your breast, indeed let it be increased inside the recesses of your minds, rumbling solemnly, as though both of you shout from one mouth: 'But let glorification be absent for me except on the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world was crucified for me, and I for the world.'[v]
My sisters, may the soft things of this world not deceive you, when you have heard the Lord Christ saying through the apostolic mouth: 'Do not love this world, nor those things which are in this world. If anyone loves this world, the kindness of the Father is not in him. Indeed all that which is in this world, is the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes, and the arrogance of this life, which is not from the Father, but from this world. And the world and the desire of it will pass.'[vi] May the abundance of things not entice you, for it has been written: 'Do not place hope in iniquities, and in plunder. Do not desire riches. If they flow forth, do not place your heart in them.'[vii] And again: 'Do not place hope in the uncertainty of riches.'[viii] May the squalid horror of prison not turn you away, as indeed you know that the prophets, apostles and blessed martyrs reached the heavenly homeland through bonds of prison, and the secrets of the mysteries were revealed to many placed in the cave. May the crowd of the harlots not disturb you, for it has been written: 'Like a lily among thorns, thus is my darling among the daughters'[ix] and indeed the Lord 'when He was delegated to the enemies' and was crucified between both thieves.[x] Let not the terror of the furious judgement silence you, because no hair will be torn from your head without the order of your Father. May the insults of injustices not deter you, for it has been written: 'Do not fear the reprimand of men and do not fear their blasphemies. For just as a garment, thus will the worm eat you, and just as wool, thus will the gnawing worm devour you.'[xi] May the torments of the punishments brought upon you not wither you, nor the monstrosity of the tricks overcome you, and may the vigour of your faith not succumb to the wounds of torments, for it has been written: 'Do not fear those who kill the body, for they cannot harm the soul in anyone, but rather fear the one who can lose his body and soul and send them into Gehennam.'[xii] Your Lord and Master commands this, my sisters, and these things have been brought forth from His divine mouth. There is no longer anything else for you to fear, 'oh weak flock, indeed it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.'[xiii] May your humane fragility immediately be strengthened more vehemently, and with hand exerted may it exercise the fights in the struggle on behalf of its God. He will give the help, He will bring the merit of victory, as He has brought such a precept to those who hear: 'Behold I am with you in all days until the consummation of this world.'[xiv]
Indeed the enemy threatens for you to be sent away in public venality and to be imposed in the forum and to be prostituted to the nefarious obscenities of the common people, and to be dragged apart on the market day through cruel judicial process. But I beseech, do not yield to the furies of this sort, 'because the Lord will not leave the stick of the sinners over the lot of the just, so that the just should not extend their hands to iniquity.'[xv] But as He is the foreseeing scrutiniser of your secreta and the One who brings together your strength, He will not allow you to be driven forth to the troubles of temptations, as He hopes that your spirit will be proven and not be able to succumb to them. So if (may it not be so) the persecutor's wicked desire for pleasure intercedes and while bringing violence on the bodies sexually oppresses the limbs dedicated to God against your will, may the pernicious consent to that be far removed from the appetite of the mind, for the corruption of another will not the pollute the mind when one's own delectation does not defile it.
For in the crisis of these temptations, by whose heavy conflict from here and overhanging wars from there the human weakness is vexed, while it fears to lose the wholeness of the body and grieves that it has perished when it is lost, even in the presence of the Lord it merits the rewards of its wholeness. And while this weakness feels ashamed to have undergone the mark of infamy when it has endured violence among men and has already become disgraceful flesh, it is no crime, but rather that which renders us without blame to God must be admired and sought by all means. But one must not fear that the crowd will bring judgement about us, because the mind will not be deprived of the reward for being incorruptible, even when the wholeness of the flesh has been taken away, so long as the chastity of the internal human remains undiminished under the testimony of its Creator.
For however much the infirmity of the flesh yields to the adversaries, to whom it has been given to butcher the bodies, afflict with torments, tarnish with defilements, and burden with various punishments, in no way however can they harm the souls that preserve the intent of sanctity, for, as the blessed Hieronymus[xvi] says: 'No force stains the body of the holy women, but rather desire for pleasure.' And again the most holy Augustinus[xvii]: 'The body does not lose sanctity while the sanctity of the mind remains, even when the body is oppressed, just as the sanctity of the body is lost when the sanctity of the mind has been violated, even when the body is intact.' Thus Joseph, thus Jeremias, thus Daniel and the three boys and many of the Hebrews faithfully worshipping God were sold as slaves in that storm, and nonetheless they did not recede from the word of God, because they did not reach any state in which they did not find their God [...][xviii]: the very One [?], in whose mind and intention they bore the suffering and while they were beaten and while they were cut and while they were stoned and while they were sold they considered the passion of Christ, who was to be dragged apart after much time by the impious transaction of the traitor disciple.
In short Jonas the prophet cast forward by the nod of God to the sea from the ship, and seized by the beastly jaws was suddenly confined to the horrific prison. But that monster, lacking all reason, rationally obeyed its Creator and mystically understood that the prophet entrusted to it had to be considered and from there stored in the caves of its paunch the revered booty that was not to be torn apart, so that what was the cause of danger to the prophet should afterwards turn into the sacrament of mystery for the believing nations and he should remain unbroken and unharmed in its entrails by that sacrament, from which he made a portent of the burial of three days of the Lord's death,[xix] because refusing to obey the commands of his Lord he preferred to sale to Tarsus. Thus Malchus the monk protected his chastity by the conquering right hand in captivity and was removed from the yoke of the cruel masters, while the armed claw served on his behalf through the intervention of chastity, as it wore down with monstrous wildness the impious master, who as a result of that had left the chaste Malchus unharmed in his cave.[xx] Thus Paulinus the bishop of the city of Nola, a man of great sanctity and incomparable merit, willingly underwent servitude on account of the only son of a widow,[xxi] moved by the example of the true Teacher. That is, the Teacher who enjoyed free and coeternal power of disposing of all things with the Father and Holy Spirit as the power of the Father did not precede the majesty of the co-eternal Offspring, while with the nature of the divinity persisting indivisibly, the diversity of the persons remained unconfounded even as the substance of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit remained one and the same. This Teacher 'did not think of the fact that he was equal to God as something to be exploited by himself, but rather he weakened himself and accepted the form of the slave, and humbled himself all the way to death, indeed the death of the cross.'[xxii]
Indeed, my sisters, fixing this exemplar of the Lord's suffering before the eyes of your heart and following the footsteps of His yoke in meditation, consider every temporal punishment for nothing, for although it may be harsh and bitter, nonetheless it is brief and comes to an end and under the pace of one moment either one who brings it perishes or the one sustaining it falls. So if the punishments are rather sharp, quickly they inflict the disappearance of suffering, but if they are rather light, they are tolerated rather easily. In both things the trophy of eternal glorification remains for you, and in both is the outcome of eternal felicity accomplished, while through the manifold torture like gold proven by fire your souls are rendered purer as the slag of vices fall off and as the punishment advances the outcome brings the sharper mature end for you who are to be crowned, sending you forward nonetheless without hesitation to the true consolation, about which it is said through the prophet: 'I will give them the true consolation, peace upon peace.'[xxiii]
Therefore in the corruption of this life however much tranquillity each of us may enjoy, and however much each of us may be animated by benefits and carried with prosperity, nonetheless from the fact that we are wandering away from the Lord it must be confessed in truth that there is more desolation than peace, because all things, which adhere to temporal matters and are surveyed with the varied light of this world, nonetheless succumb to vanity and corruption and easily slip away from their state, as Salomon says: 'All things are vain under the Sun.'[xxiv]
From here one must supplicate to God more vehemently with pious emotions and frequently engage in the holy studies, and 'like a lamp shining in a dark place' there must be contemplation and preservation of the precepts of the divine scriptures and the laws of the holy words from the darkness of our wandering, by which we are separated from the Lord and the consortium of the blessed ones, 'until the day grows light and Lucifer rises in our hearts.'[xxv] For if we gasp to see God with free aspect, first the hearts must be purified in faith, consecrated with works and from all sides strengthened by the wall of kindness, by which things we may thus be considered worthy without hesitation of the sponsorship of that sacred Gospel, where it is said: 'Blessed are those with pure heart, for they will see God.'[xxvi] From there I beseech you, oh blessed virgins, not to lose your crown prepared for you and that the delight of any worldly thing should not separate you from the kindness of Christ, but preach with equal mind along with the apostle saying: 'For who will separate us from the kindness of God? Tribulation or harshness or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword. As it has been written that we are killed because of you on every day, we have been reckoned as the sheep of slaughter. But in all these things we overcome because of Him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor the angels, nor the principate, nor fortitude, nor loftiness, nor the profound, nor what is pressing, nor the future, not any other creation will be able to separate us from the kindness of God, which is in our Lord Jesus Christ.'[xxvii] Indeed all these things are rather to be sought and borne with keener minds and more ardent vows on account of the eternal retribution. So there remains for each one the crown of one's labour stored with the Lord and He will provide the fruit of the reward in recompense for the quality of the struggle.
Indeed we believe we are not deprived of the divine benefit nor do we expect ourselves to be having no share in or refused the heavenly gift, for, although unwilling, nonetheless we have been bound for His name and confined to the deep trap of the prisons. The inner depths of the prison have been filled with the groups of the clerics. The church has been made a widow from the sacred office of the overseers and priests. The divine tabernacles shudder at the squalid solitude, the spider's web has covered the temple, all things hold silence. The priests and the ministers of the altar have become bewildered, because 'the stones of the sanctuary have been scattered on the head of all the streets.'[xxviii] And with the things of the heavenly songs ceasing in the gathering, the depths of the prison resound with the holy murmur of psalms. The singer does not bring forth the divine song in public, nor does the voice of the psalmist resound in chorus, nor does the reader make a pronouncement on the pulpit, nor does the priest evangelise among the people, nor does the priest bring the incense to the altars because with the pastor struck, the adversary has brought dispersion on the Catholic flock, as the church has been immediately deprived of all sacred ministry. And although we sustain these things unwillingly, nonetheless we do not believe that our detention is free from public burden in the presence of the Lord.
So all the more noble glory and more ready crown await you, oh my holy sisters, as you willingly reject this world and its fluctuations and armed with the zeal of God have jumped out with intrepid step against the enemy of the faith in a free procession! Indeed worthy of the divine gift, but wholly worthy of the prophetic oracle, in which it is said: 'You of Israel who have willingly offered your souls to the danger, bless the Lord.'[xxix] For bringing forth the testimony of truth against the author of the crime and the institutor of the perverse dogma, take up the victorious arms against him, engaging in fasts, vigils, prayers and shouts by days and nights. I ask you, holy sisters, not to desist from the things begun, not to yield from the ventures you have started, not to shrink from the auspices of the battles, because the reward is not given to those who begin, but those who persevere. Do not look back and do not make the first faith in vain and do not deviate from the royal way into the path off the track as you hold your hand over the plough. Hurry to bind yourselves to the pay of your labour, hurry to climb to the peak of perfection, because the strenuous soldier is crowned after the victory and the pay is disposed for the hired hirelings when the labour has been consummated. 'For he also who struggles in the struggle is not crowned, unless he has struggled legitimately.'[xxx] Indeed to struggle legitimately is either to live with justice all the way to death or not to fear death on account of justice, after all affections for transient things excluded from the heart with the intention of seizing the kingdom of heaven. For when the just bears the ever renewed strife of the demons all the way to death and the temptations are not lacking from him all the way to the end, he does not go secure or go intrepid to God as he intends to receive the reward in the future for the quality of the struggle, however much he may excel in sanctity. Indeed the one who following justice chooses to die for justice imposes the quick end as the wars press on and undoubtedly ascends to the eternal kingdom. However he wishes to be and whatever traps of vices or filthiness of sins he has come out of: even if he flies to the martyrdom not washed in baptism, nonetheless he is crowned.
Do not be terrified, oh sisters, of the furies of the persecutors, and do not be afraid of their faces, for the Lord will not make you fear their face. He who has armed you is with you, the same One who incited you is fighting because of you, nor will the very One who has chosen you to accomplish this struggle will not cease to help, so after binding the goading of adversities He will make you reign with Him in eternal right for all times.
Indeed let us come to those who have thought you are to be prevented from this intention and have ordered you to violate and deny that primordial profession of yours, which you brought forth willingly in the presence of the judge with Christ's incitement. But we prohibit you to do such things, because God is more to be obeyed rather than men. So our Teacher shaping the founders of the church- our apostles- to preach the Gospel gave this precept to them: 'If anyone professes me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, this man will also be professed by the Son of Man, when He comes in the glory of His Father and the holy angels.'[xxxi] My sisters, you must not make your vow in vain, for it has been written: 'If you have vowed anything to God, do not delay to render it. For the unfaithful and stupid promise is displeasing to Him. But whatever you have vowed, restore, and it is much better not to vow than to deny promises after the vow.'[xxxii] For it will not be unavenged to God that you should again repudiate the truth after the profession of the truth and pollute with falsehood that mouth, which was made holy through divine intervention by bringing forth the testimony of truth. But those who order you to do such things urge nothing other than lying and those who strive to incline your minds to this drive for nothing other than denying the truth. And so there is no difference between the liar and the one denying the truth, because it seems to me that the one who negates true things is bound by the same charge as the one who brings forth falsehoods. For the liar strives to insert the false comment in the place of truth: but the one covering the true things administers strength to falsehood by his silence. From here it has turned out that the hidden truth is not revealed and the propped-up falsehood prevails. Both indeed are one and they will not be unpunished on account of this, for it has been written: 'The false witness will not be unpunished.'[xxxiii] And again: 'The mouth that lies kills a soul.'[xxxiv] Why therefore, oh most holy sisters, should you not be afraid to kill your very selves and become murderers of your own souls? For the one who kills himself does nothing else other than killing a man and the executioner of souls is judged guilty of the charges of a greater crime than the executioner of bodies, because the destroyed flesh at some point rises to reign in glory with the soul for merits, but the soul killed by vices equally drags the flesh with itself to Gehennam.
For surely you did not lie in that which you brought forth in open assertions against the adversary of the Catholic faith? Surely every insult, which you said against that very precursor of the Antichrist, is true and certain: a man of demons, the minister of Satan, full of lying, the son of eternal death and perdition? Surely the whole Catholic church repeatedly refers to God the same testimony as you do?
Certainly those who assail the holy proposition bring forth to you the bereftness of the churches, the imprisonment of the priests, the dispersion of the ministers and that we do not have in this time the sacrifice 'nor the burnt offering nor the offering nor the incense,'[xxxv] as the sacrilegious hand is devastating all things and disturbing all things through fury in tyranny. But one must respond to them that the 'spirit subject to tribulation' is an acceptable 'sacrifice to God'[xxxvi] and that in the worn out soul and in the spirit of humility we are thus taken by the Lord just as in the burnt offerings of rams and bulls and just as in the thousands of lambs, 'because it is not the confusion of those who profess Him.'[xxxvii] Therefore you, oh blessed sisters, have already been captured in that net of the Lord which having been sent on the right hand of sailing at the precept of the Teacher was displayed to the shore full of great fish,[xxxviii] saved for this purpose that after the bad ones have been cast forth out of the doors by the scrutiny of the apostles, you should be joined in eternal union with the catalogues of the elect. But if when the judge interrogates you, you deny that you have cursed the prophet, you will be cursed; and as you have not detested that which the Lord has detested, you will be guilty of two-fold sin. It will be the same as lying, by denying the truth that you have already professed; by removing another word of profession in the presence of the enemy of justice. And certainly we bless on the contrary those things which we do not curse and we admit to our union the one we do not detest as though we favour that person.
Thus one must insist, my sisters, that you should consummate with divine help in the peace of your souls the wars that have been begun and you should protect us with stronger intervention from the things of heaven, because if thus the pious Lord is not lacking for you as a hearer, nonetheless more easily in clinging to His companies there will be granted whatever you seek from Him, because thus the immaculate virginity follows the Lord with free steps, thus the pure chastity is not torn from its accompaniment of the Redeemer, thus also sprinkled with the purple blood of martyrdom it is accompanied, victorious and veiled, with the crowns of the diadems. For God will defend His Church from the molestation of the devastator, and will also save and guard us, as He wills, through unconquered power from those bonds and having pitied us He will restore us to our own seats. But you, sisters, persevere all the way to the death of the flesh, so that you should not only escape the danger of the souls, but also so that you should guard them for eternal life, as the Lord says: 'He who loses his life because of me, will guard it for eternal life.'[xxxix]
But then by what pact would you be without blame, if you were using the common silence with our church in this matter, not detesting publicly the one whom you blaspheme secretly with frequent attack? Would not the Lord set as a charge against you that which you referred only with the meditation of the heart, and not with the profession of the mouth into the forum, emulating more the pretence of this church of ours, which in this time acts against the unjust prophet with clandestine invectives? The state of the Goths[xl] was once governed in the Spanish lands by those who exercised moderation and control as the felicity of the churches was augmented and the greatest dignity of the priests was flourishing. But through the entanglement of crime it fell from prosperity and was brought by the hidden and just judgement of God into the privilege of the cult followers of this wicked prophet, because whatever the Lord has brought upon us, He has done in true judgement and He has done all these things because of our sins and, as has been written: 'Our inheritance has been turned to others, our home to foreigners. We drink out waters for money and we have obtained our woods at a price. The slaves dominate us and there is no one to redeem us from their hands.'[xli] Indeed as they press on the necks of the faithful with the most heavy yoke, they contrive to shut out the whole Christian people (as you see) from the territory of their kingdom, as they now only allow us to practise Christianity as they wish,[xlii] and now making our sweat stink in terrible servitude in the manner of the Pharaoh, now intolerably they extort from us the chirograph tax, now they impose the public census on the necks of the poor,[xliii] now depriving us cruelly of things they wear us down with the losses of things. And thus do they tire out the gathering of the orthodox with the various kind of oppression and afflict the Lord's flock with the diverse attack of persecution, and they believe that they are displaying obedience pleasing to their God by our losses. Then how much more outstanding glory would be shown to us by the Lord, if rejecting idleness and roused by your example we should hurry to do such things and not allow ourselves to labour under the divine goading of the impious people. But we wretched ones, having taken delight in their crimes, are not inappropriately marked in the oracles of the psalmist, who says: 'They have been mixed among the Gentile peoples and have learnt their works and have served their statues and it has turned into scandal for them.'[xliv] Alas, because we reckon that the delights to be under the heathen peoples and we do not resist leading our yoke with the infidels. And from there out of daily use we generally make use of their sacrileges and strive more for their companies rather than being saved in the mountain after abandoning the Sodomite countryside per the example of Loth the patriarch.[xlv]
But you, oh blessed virgins, after you have jumped forward as strenuous female warriors to the public struggle and in the presence of the kings and leaders of the world you have driven back the enemy of justice with intrepid profession, you must fight all the way to death, because this kind of struggle is glorified in death and then the soldier receives the prize when he dies and by it he becomes certain of the crown of victory as he has cast himself into the raging wars with the intention of dying. Thus you, dragging apart the bodily end, will purchase the eternal condition of eternal life granted to the perpetual light. And while you acquire the heavenly things in exchange for the earthly things and in dispensing with the transient things you seize those intended to remain forever, you shape the Catholic church by the particular exemplars of your merits, so that it may intend for supernal things by abdicating worldly things. Therefore there remains for you, my sisters, the benefit of victory from both parts, there remains from both sides the benefit of the unceasing rewards. And from here not wrongly does that prophecy of the psalmist stand out prepared for your just labours, in which it is said: 'Glory and riches are in his home, and his justice remains forever.'[xlvi]
But now with me set in the portico of silence, before the volume should reach the end and cease to minister the arms of waging battle to those nurtured with the holy breathing, allow me to speak a little with you, oh Flora the most holy sister, you who flourish with the merits of virtues, so that capturing the word of our familiarity with pleasing hearing you may admit it to be buried in the chamber of our heart and you may store our advice, with your minds sanctified, as the precept of a holy father. Hear therefore, oh daughter, and see and incline your ear and forget your people and the home of your father, because the King desires your face. For your vocation is not like the rest, for you were created through the intercourse of a wolf and born from a sheep mother[xlvii] and you shoot forth as a rose among thorns, while the heathen seed does not stand in your way at all. For nonetheless you were brought out in a Christian birth, and you have revered the conception through divine intervention and by instruction of the pious mother the Lord Jesus Christ in such a way with your believing mind, that on account of His name you have been beaten by the rather sharp whippings but in no way have you repelled the original profession. For you knew that your bridegroom had said: 'They will hand you over in councils and will whip you in the synagogues, and you will be led to the governors and kings because of me in testimony for them and the Gentiles. But the one who perseveres all the way to the end, this person will be saved.'[xlviii]
From here the glory of martyrdom put forward for you under the auspices of God has begun to accompany you, from here the magnificent fame of your name has begun to be poured in the whole world, from here the rumour of your struggle, wandering through the peoples and nations on your behalf, has begun to become known to more people. In short in the time of your persecution I gazed on the skin of your venerable head torn out by the blows of the whips and the crack where beautiful hair had flowed, as you deigned to show that to me as though by the purity of your reverence towards your father of kin. And I touched with the gentle hand because I did not believe that the wounds should be stroked caressingly by kisses[xlix], and after I departed from you, I sighed for a long time and deeply as I thought things over with myself. Indeed the grace of your mouth, copious through divine intervention, expounded in my presence on the huge aspects of your pains and the mishaps of the dangers, which had oppressed you, and how the walls of the prison, where you had been confined, opened up by divine intervention and displayed to you a way of escaping the nocturnal silences. So I considered that you were conforming with the sufferings of Petrus the apostle through these things and the same deeds that you had shown to all. This is so particularly because at the time you were released by divine intervention, and after you had been content for a period of six years with the remedy of flight through many different exiles and hiding places from town to city, and from village to town, and as you had previously overcome huge obstacles with the intention of escaping, now it is as though Christ your bridegroom advises you and says to you: 'Where are you pasturing your sheep, where are you resting them in the middle of the day, my sister? Again I come to be crucified.'[l] Thus you approach the forum augmented with the revived return for doing battle and you seek the public place and you offer yourself without fear to the judge in professing Christ and detesting the adversary of the faith. And bravely resisting him, you praise Christ the author of your salvation and extoll the religion of piety and from there you denounce the unchaste prophet and declare that in no way could someone full of lying have preached the true things, and on account of this you appropriately keep singing the song of David: 'I was speaking about Your testimonies, oh Lord, in the sight of the kings, and I was not confounded.'[li] And again: 'I have well declared Your justice in the great congregation. But I will not prohibit my lips, oh Lord. You have known. I have not hidden justice in my heart, I have said Your truth and Your salutary thing. I have not hidden Your mercy and Your truth from the great synagogue.'[lii] As if you were saying with patience: 'The testimony of Your truth, oh Lord, I hid up to this point with the fear of flesh. But now armed with Your strength I will reveal, because the worshipper of God does not know how to fear, thus the mind rich with Your gift does not know how to tremble in fear.'
These things thus, oh servant of Christ, my female master and sister Flora, I have explained to you, so that as you recall the benefits of such great virtues, you should not think again that they are to be lost by your merits as they have been brought here by divine intervention, and you should not think they are to be treated with contempt. Hurry to the prize, run to the prize while the most opportune time of seizing it presses on you. For your bridegroom the Lord Jesus Christ has been prepared to bring to you the title of perfection, if you do not cease to fight all the way to death, if you hurry all the way to the end to die for Him just as you have chosen from the beginning, if you consider thus perfunctory punishment to be for nothing as you have delighted in the supernal joys, 'for the sufferings of this time are not equal in worth to the glory to the come, which will be revealed in us.'[liii] Fight the good fight, my sister the blessed virgin, and if you are wounded more sharply do not yield, because these wounds are the auspices of eternal felicity and bring a disappearance to continual pains, as all things remain unharmed. This death gives life, adds to the gatherings of the saints and displays the state of eternity to those who persevere with faith and strength in the struggle. Indeed as the book had already hoped to be closed previously, although the prior deeds of your primordial martyrdom compelled me to address a word individually to you, oh sister Flora, now I will return to both of you and still speaking a little in common to you I will explain the reward that you merit (in my view) and thus from there I will put an end to my long-winded discourse.
My sisters, your rewards cannot be described: the outstanding gifts very much stored away. For you will receive from the Lord the one-hundredth fruit of virginity and the indescribable benefit of the glorious martyrdom. The holy and venerable queen of the world the Virgin Mary, adorned with the most flourishing groups of virgins, will meet you. Also the most brave soldiers of god your brothers will be present: Perfectus, Isaac, Sanctius, Petrus, Walabonsus, Sabinianus, Wistremundus, Habentius, Ieremias, Sisenandus, Paulus and Theodemirus,[liv] who preceded you with the sign of faith and won victory against the enemy and have opened to you the door of reaching the kingdom, preparing for your journey the worthy meeting and saying: 'Come, oh most holy sisters, enter the bedroom of your bridegroom, whom you have lived so much that you did not fear to die because of Him. For already the winter has passed, the rain shower has gone and receded,[lv] because the temporal tribulation has departed from you as it has been overcome. Hurry, holy sisters, hurrying as you are to see with pleasure the face of Him, whom you have served in truth, for whom you have not refused to die, so that you may live forever. Seize the reward of your labour and take up the laurel wreath of the glorious struggle.'
Who then will be able to consider your joy, oh sister Maria? Who will compensate for the joy of that most happy hour diffused in your minds through divine intervention, when among them you will recognise the deacon Walabonsus, whom the pious affection of parents bore for you as a brother? Who will explain with mortal conjectures or human words the favour bestowed on you two, when you will take without hesitation the gifts of that remuneration as you will already have been set on the divine lap and placed amid the flowing of the riches of Paradise? Because 'the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and there have not ascended into the heart of man'[lvi] those things that the Lord has prepared for those who love him.
Hence my most holy sisters, most prudent virgins, who always fragrant with the smell of chastity have flowed with the most ornate glow of heavenly lamps, when you have entered the tabernacles of the Lord, I beseech you to deign to be mindful of me. When you have approached the bedroom of your bridegroom and you have merited to be joined to His embraces with unceasing fruition, keep me in your prayers, defend me with your glorious merits. Let the succinct mediocrity of this little book be of use to me the sinner, which I brought out burning with spiritual love of you and out of concern for your salvation, because through it I have instructed you, because I have incited to complete the wars of the Lord, because I have armed you with the sword of preaching so that you should not fail in the conflict, because I have shown the enticements that you ought to avoid, because I have expounded the rewards that you deserve, because I have involved myself as far as I could in your praises. You have known what I have sought from you, what I have intimated to you with the motive of kindness, so that I should lack every vice by your intervention, be removed from faults and I should not know how to commit crime, so that adhering to my omnipotent God with faithful service I should enjoy after the transit the company of both you and my masters, in whose defence and praise I have established the work Memoriale Sanctorum, which the monstrosity of the persecutor has compelled me to leave unfinished, but nonetheless it will be finished at some point with Christ's support. Indeed I have added a very small entreaty at the end of this volume, which I have brought out with simple words and I have thought will be necessary for your intent, so that binding it with frequent meditation to your memories you may offer it to the Lord both on behalf of yourselves as you hold it over the token of the heart at the thresholds of the heavenly court and on behalf of the benefit for the whole Catholic church. I have also added it so that you may make mention of us in the final place as far as the text of the prayer demands. So may God sanctify you for the perfection of peace, such that you should preserve your souls and bodies without complaint for the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives with the Father and Holy Spirit and reigns forever. Amen.
So the prayer of the same Eulogius for the aforementioned virgins:
Almighty Lord God, who are the true solace for those who have hope in You, the indefatigable remedy for those who fear You and the perpetual joy for those who love You, alight our heart with the fire of love and kindle the recess of our breast with the flame of Your kindness, so that we may be able to consummate the martyrdom we have begun, so that with the fire of Your love being strong in us the incentives of sins may fall away from us and the ill-advising ticklings of vices may flee far away, so that we may be able to despise all delights of this world by the gift of Your illuminated grace and love, fear, long for and seek You wholly with pure minds and simple vows. Give us, Lord, help in the tribulation, because the salvation of men is false. Give the fortitude to wage battle in this struggle and look back on us from Sion with the intention of freeing us, so that following the chalice of suffering we may be able to drink up Your traces with pleasant mouth. For You, Lord, not only liberated Your Israelites who once wailed under the terrible yoke of the Egyptians, but also You drowned the Pharaoh and his army in the middle of the sea and utterly destroyed them for the glory and honour of Your name. Give our fragility in this encounter the unconquered protection of resisting the enemy. Grant amid the battle lines of the demons and men arising against us the undefeatable help of Your right hand. Place in our defence the shield of Your divine power and grant the help of fighting with strength all the way to death for Your sake, so that we may be able to restore the debt of Your passion by the pouring out of our blood, so that just as You deigned to die for us, so also You may make us perish by a worthy death of martyrdom on Your behalf, so that avoiding the torments of the eternal punishment through the temporal sword after laying aside the baggage of flesh we may merit to reach You in felicity. Also, Lord, may Your most pious virtue be present for the Catholic people far removed from an obstacle and defending Your church from the trouble of the devastator, and may your order the crown of all Your priests, supported with the wealth of sanctity and chastity, to approach the heavenly homeland after the undiminished ministry of the sacred officiating: among them Your servant Eulogius, by whose teachings we are instructed after Your gift, by whose letters we are taught, by whose consolations we are comforted, by whose preachings we are animated. Make him cleansed of all sins, and wiped clean of all crimes make him the faithful servant to You entrusted with obedience to You forever, so that showing the pleasing servitude to You in this mortality he may be considered worthy of the gifts of Your graces in the future at least and obtain the final place of rest in the region of those who live through our Lord Christ, who lives with You and reigns forever.
[i] James 5:20.
[ii] Daniel 12:3.
[iii] Referring to the story of Esther, Haman (here: Aman) and the Persian king. Esther was the wife of the king and foiled Haman's plot to destroy the people of Israel.
[iv] An Assyrian general, who was charmed and beheaded by Judith. The story is related in the Book of Judith, which is considered canonical by the Catholic Church.
[v] Galatians 6:14.
[vi] 1 John 2:15-17.
[vii] Psalm 61:11.
[viii] 1 Timothy 6:17.
[ix] Song of Songs 2:2.
[x] Mark 15:28.
[xi] Isaiah 51:7-8.
[xii] Matthew 10:28.
[xiii] Luke 12:32.
[xiv] Matthew 28:20.
[xv] Psalm 124:3.
[xvii] St. Augustine. The quotation is taken from his 'Concerning the city of God.'
[xviii] Unfortunately, the original manuscript with the text was mangled here, and it is not possible to restore the complete sense of the original.
[xix] Cf. Matthew 12:38-41. The idea is that Jonah's three days and nights inside the whale were a sign of the Son of Man's three days and nights in the earth prior to His resurrection.
[xx] The story of Malchus the Syrian monk was related in Jerome's work. Malchus was captured by Ishmaelite (Arab) bandits and was compelled to accept a fellow slave as a wife but he did not know her carnally. The two then escaped to a cave, where the bandits tried to capture them, but a lioness killed those who tried to capture them. The best edition of the Latin text of Jerome's biography of Malchus (with translation and commentary on the text in English) is by the monstrous classical scholar Christa Gray (full disclosure: she was also my tutor at Oxford University during my first year there as an undergraduate, and what a great tutor she was). You can purchase it here.
[xxi] Paulus of Nola was a Roman senator who eschewed the worldly life and became a bishop after converting to Christianity. The story related about him here comes from St. Gregory the Great.
[xxii] Philippians 2:6-8.
[xxiii] Jeremiah 14:13.
[xxiv] Ecclesiastes 1:14.
[xxv] 2 Peter 1:19.
[xxvi] Matthew 5:8.
[xxvii] Romans 8:35-39.
[xxviii] Lamentations of Jeremiah 4:1.
[xxix] Judges 5:2.
[xxx] 2 Timothy 2:5.
[xxxi] Mark 8:38.
[xxxii] Ecclesiastes 5:3-4.
[xxxiii] Proverbs 19:5.
[xxxiv] Wisdom 1:11.
[xxxv] Daniel 3:38.
[xxxvi] Psalm 50:19.
[xxxvii] Daniel 3:40.
[xxxviii] John 21:6.
[xxxix] Matthew 10:39.
[xl] Recall that prior to the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the territory was controlled by the Visigothic kingdom.
[xli] Lamentations of Jeremiah 5:2-8.
[xlii] Referring to dhimmi restrictions placed on Christians by the Muslim authorities.
[xliv] Psalm 105:35-36.
[xlv] Referring to the story of Lot and his flight from Sodom: cf. Genesis 19.
[xlvi] Psalm 111:3.
[xlvii] I.e. Flora was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother.
[xlviii] Matthew 10:17-18 and 22.
[xlix] I find no carnal element in this contrary to the reading of some. Eulogius' intention is clearly to provide some soothing comfort amid Flora's physical pains.
[l] Cf. Song of Songs 1:6, though note that the last sentence in the quotation and the reference to a sister are not part of the verse.
[li] Psalm 118:46.
[lii] Psalm 39:10-11.
[liii] Romans 8:18.
[lv] On the end of the winter and the rains, cf. Song of Songs 2:11.
[lvi] 1 Corinthians 2:9.