This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10 -- Feast of Saint Eulalia of Merida

Unofficially, Eulalia is the patron of snow, though officially are runaways, torture victims, and widows.  Let's talk about the snow.  It's much nicer.

But to do that, we have to at least touch on the torture. 

John William Waterhouse's Saint Eulalia
Eulalia had a calling to martyrdom; she was vehement enough that her mom took her to the country to stay out of the way of Roman administrators. She was somewhere between twelve and fourteen years old when she ran away to challenge the praetor Dacian about his persecution of the Christians. 

The report says he was amused by Eulalia, and tried at first to flatter her.  When she continued to remonstrate him about idolatry and worshiping inanimate rocks, he got irritated.  The failure of incrementally severe punishments to persuade her to renounce Christ resulted in her slow execution by torches, hooks, and finally being stripped and burned at the stake. 

Here's a fun fact about being stripped before being burned.  The point is not the public humiliation of the nakedness, nor is it the titillation of the bloodthirsty masses, though that's no doubt a bonus.  Folks being burned at the stake may have the good fortune to pass out or even die from smoke inhalation before the pain of their burning flesh is too severe.  (Define too severe?  More severe than you and I want to contemplate.)  If you strip someone naked before burning her, the clothes won't deny her enough oxygen to remain conscious before the flesh blisters and bursts. 

Snow.  Weren't we going to talk about snow?  A snow storm began, covering the nakedness while she burned.  Sure, she only lost consciousness when her hair caught on fire and the wreath of flames around her face denied her that last bit of oxygen that had been keeping her going, but the crowd didn't get to savor the spectacle with the driving snow all around.  Eventually it even extinguished the flames.  When her charred remains were tossed in a field, the snow covered the body like a funeral pall until her fellow Christians (less eager to witness for their faith) crept out to bury her properly. 

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