Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain

Kenneth Baxter Wolf


The Martyrs of Córdoba

[23] Who were the martyrs who contributed so much to the anxiety of the emirs? What prompted their suicidal outbursts against Islam? The limitations of the sources make these questions difficult to answer. The only martyr who left any written record was Eulogius and, as we shall see in a subsequent chapter, there is every reason to believe that he was not representative of the group as a whole. For the most part, what we know about the other martyrs is what Eulogius chose to report about them. Though it can be risky to rely on a martyrology which, true to its genre, inflates its protagonists to heroic proportions, we can trust Eulogius at least to identify the martyrs and to inform us of the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Isaac was the first and probably most politically prominent of the martyrs.(1) His noble birth and training in Arabic contributed to his rise within the local government to one of the highest positions to which a non-Muslim could aspire: that of kâtib adh-dhimam (secretary of the covenant), or, as Euloguis called it, exceptor reipublicae. Sometime later, he relinquished his post and retired to the monastery at Tabanos, located in the mountains just north of Córdoba.

Isaac remained at Tabanos for three years. Then one day he left his retreat and returned to Córdoba. Approaching the emir's palace where he had once been employed, he asked the qâdî (judge) for some instruction in the fine points of Islam.(2) No sooner had the official begun to elaborate on the life of Muhammad when the monk burst out with a vituperative attack against Islam, claiming that its "prophet" was languishing in hell for having misled the Arabs.

The qâdî was dumbfounded. His first reaction was to slap Isaac, [24] but he restrained himself when his counsellors reminded him that Islamic law protected the accused from physical harm prior to sentencing. At the suggestion that he must either be drunk or mad to disparage Islam in the presence of a qâdî, Isaac assured him that the "zeal of righteousness" compelled him to speak out against Islam and that he was prepared to die for his indiscretion.(3)

After arresting Isaac and reporting the case to cAbd ar-Rahmân II, the qâdî sentenced the monk. On June 3, 851 he was decapitated and suspended upside down for public viewing on the opposite bank of the river.(4) His body was then cremated and its ashes cast into the Guadalquivir.(5)

The response of the Muslim judge to Isaac's outburst is significant. Not only was he, in Eulogius' words, stupore nimio turbatus, but he felt compelled to consult the emir before acting in his judicial capacity. Isaac's case was apparently unusual. But it is important to realize that neither the crime nor the punishment themselves were new. Less than fifteen months before, the authorities had also condemned the priest Perfectus for blasphemy. As we shall see, however, the circumstances were significantly different.

Perfectus, who served at the basilica of St. Aciscius just outside the city walls, was stopped one day on his way to market by a group of Muslims.(6) Seeing that he was a priest, they asked him to explain the "catholic faith" and to share with them his opinions about Christ and Muhammed. Fearing that he would only provoke his audience, Perfectus declined. But when the Muslims swore to protect him, he proceeded, in Arabic, to decry Muhammed as one of the false prophets foretold by Christ and as a moral reprobate who had seduced the wife of his kinsman.(7)

Though angered by the harsh attack, the Muslims respected their oaths and let Perfectus go on his way. But a few days later the priest ran into some of the same group, who no longer felt constrained by their earlier promise. Seizing Perfectus, they took him before the magistrate and testified that he had disparaged the prophet. As they led Perfectus to prison to wait out the holy month of Ramadân, he repeatedly denied his guilt. Only when he realized that his fate was sealed did he repeat his denunciation of Islam. On April 18, 850, Perfectus was decapitated before the crowds that had gathered to celebrate the end of the feast.(8)

The novelty of Isaac's case, then, was not that he blasphemed [25] Muhammad or that he was sentenced to death for it. What was new was the manner in which he broke the law. His actions were deliberate and provocative, specifically designed to bring about his own death. This willful disobedience was precisely what concerned the authorities, prompting them to consider drastic measures to forestall future outbursts.

cAbd ar-Rahmân II's edict, threatening any future blasphemers with execution, was not a well-conceived deterrent for those Christians attracted by Isaac's example. Just two days after the monk's death, a young Christian soldier named Sanctius was decapitated for the same crime. Born in Albi in southern France, Sanctius was captured as a boy and raised to serve in the Cordoban army, perhaps in the palace guard established by the emir's father. It is not clear, from the unusually brief passio that Eulogius composed for Sanctius, whether or not Isaac's example was the principal motivating factor behind the martyrdom.(9)

More explicit are the connections between Isaac and the six Christians who died within yet another forty-eight hours. Petrus, a priest from Ecija, thirty miles southwest of Córdoba, and the deacon Walabonsus from Elche on the southeast coast of Spain, had come to Córdoba to study.(10) At the time of their deaths, they were serving as the supervisors of a convent dedicated to Mary just west of Córdoba in the village of Cuteclara. Sabinianus from Fronianus, a small mountain village twelve miles northwest of the city, and Wistremundus, another native of Ecija, had recently entered the monastery of St. Zoylus, some thirty miles north of Córdoba. Joining these four were Habentius, a native Cordoban residing at St. Christopher's just down river from Córdoba, and Hieremia, a kinsman of Isaac and a founder of the monastery at Tabanos. All six presented themselves together before the authorities and made their intentions and inspiration very clear: "We abide by the same confession, O judge, that our most holy brothers Isaac and Sanctius professed. Now hand down the sentence, multiply your cruelty, be kindled with complete fury in vengeance for your prophet. We profess Christ to be truly God and your prophet to be a precursor of antichrist and an author of profane doctrine." Their executions brought the total number to eight in less than a week.(11)

A month later three more Christians set out on the increasingly [26] well-worn path to martyrdom. The deacon Sisenandus had, like Petrus and Walabonsus, come to Córdoba to study, in his case from Beja, in the southwest corner of the peninsula. Inspired by their example and by a vision in which the two martyrs beckoned him to join them, he died on July 16. Sisenandus' example in turn prompted a deacon named Paulus, from the church of St. Zoylus, to sacrifice himself four days later. Within a week a monk from Carmona named Theodemirus added his name to the growing list of martyrs.(12)

After the death of Theodemirus on July 25, 851, the executions subsided for three months. The next victims were Flora and Maria, the first of nine females whose names appear in Eulogius' martyrology. Maria's father, a Christian landowner, had married a Muslim woman whom he had subsequently converted to his own religion. Forced, as a consequence of her marriage and apostasy, to leave their family lands in Elche, the couple came with their two children to live in the village of Fronianus. Shortly afterwards Maria's mother died and her father decided to adopt a penitential lifestyle. So he arranged for his son, Walabonsus, to pursue studies at the local monastery of St. Felix and his daughter to go to the convent in Cuteclara. The two siblings were later reunited when Walabonsus was appointed to act as one of the convent's supervisors.

The death of  her brother in June had a profound effect on Maria. This, combined with the fact that her abbess, Artemia, had witnessed the execution of two of her sons thirty years before, no doubt contributed to her decision to follow in her brother's footsteps.(13) While praying for guidance at the church of St. Aciscius, Maria met Flora.(14)

Flora was also the product of a religiously mixed marriage. Her mother, a Christian from the village of Ausianos just west of Córdoba, had married a Sevillan Muslim who died while Flora was still quite young. Deprived of this paternal influence, the girl grew up as a Christian. Well aware that children of mixed marriages legally had no choice but to be Muslim, the mother and daughter worked together to keep Flora's Christianity a secret from her older Muslim brother. Ultimately the tension forced her to run away from home in the company of a sympathetic sister.(15) Her hopes of practicing her religion in peace were spoiled, however, when her [27] brother, apparently an influential figure in Córdoba, began to put pressure on the Christian community, forcing Flora to return. When neither threats nor promises had any effect on her resolve to remain Christian, he turned her over to the authorities. Despite Flora's defense that she had been a Christian from birth and was therefore innocent of the charges of apostasy, Flora was sentenced to a severe whipping and placed on probation in her brother's custody. No sooner had her wounds healed, however, than she fled again, this time taking refuge at a Christian household before leaving town with her sister. Ultimately, however, she decided to return and suffer the consequences.(16)

It is important to realize that though Flora and Maria approached the qâdî and denounced Islam together, they were, in fact, guilty of two distinct crimes. Flora, as the daughter of a Muslim, was legally an apostate. Unlike her predecessors, she was a fugitive long before she presented herself before the magistrate. Her subsequent treatment by the authorities reflected the special nature of her offense. In contrast to the blasphemers, whose fates were sealed from the moment they opened their mouths, she was given ample opportunity in prison to avert her sentence by renouncing Christianity and assuming her proper religious identity.(17)

Aside from Flora and Maria, only two other Christians died in Córdoba between July 851 and July 852. Gusemindus had come from Toledo with his parents, who had dedicated him to the priesthood and arranged for his training at the basilica of St. Faustus, St. Januarius, and St. Martialis. On January 13, 852, he and the monk Servus Dei, who was associated with the same institution, delivered their confessions before the authorities and were put to death.(18)

The six-month lull that followed the executions of Gusemindus and Servus Dei ended in. July with the deaths of five more Christians: Aurelius, Sabigotho, Felix, Liliosa, and Georgius. Aurelius' father was, like Flora's, a Muslim who had married a Christian. Apparently orphaned at an early age, the boy was raised by a paternal aunt, who directed his studies toward Arabic literature. But again like Flora, Aurelius harbored a secret longing for Christianity and began to seek out priests for his instruction. When he had come of age, his relatives selected what they thought to be a suitable spouse, not knowing that the young woman, [28] Sabigotho, was also a secret Christian. In her case, both of her parents had been Muslims, but when her widowed mother remarried, she happened to pick a clandestine Christian who succeeded in converting his new wife. At the time of Sabigotho's marriage to Aurelius, she had long since embraced the religion of her stepfather.

Aurelius had a relative named Felix who, to make things even more complicated, had been born of Christian parents and converted to Islam, only to decide that he had made a mistake. This also constituted apostasy, so he too had to practice his Christianity in private. But he managed to find a sympathetic mate in Liliosa, who, like Sabigotho, was a filia occultorum Christianorum.(19)

The two couples concealed their Christianity for some years, and perhaps would have continued to do so, had not Aurelius witnessed the whipping and humiliation of the Christian merchant Joannes, who, as we saw in the first chapter, had indiscreetly sworn by the name of Muhammad.(20) Struck either by the injustice of the punishment or the fortitude of the victim, Aurelius decided that it was time to make public his Christianity regardless of the consequences. Together with Sabigotho, he adopted a severe penitential program in preparation for martyrdom. For one thing they transformed their marital relationship into a fraternal one so as to generate "spiritual offspring" to match the two children they had produced in their previous life. They also began frequenting the Cordoban prison where they visited not only Joannes, but sought advice from the imprisoned Eulogius.(21) More significantly, Sabigotho met Flora and Maria. In fact, she "frequently visited their cell. . . and stayed at night as if she herself were shackled, not only to console the two soldiers, but to confide in them her own intention to die."(22) Her devotion to the confessors paid off. During the vigil that Sabigotho kept after the execution of Flora and Maria, the two virgins appeared to her in all their newly-won, martyrial glory, and promised that she would ultimately join them. Sahigotho's time, they said, would be at hand when a foreign monk arrived to share her fate.

With renewed vigor, Sabigotho and Aurelius readied themselves for what they now felt certain was their destiny. They sold all their worldly possessions and spent their last days at Tabanos, where they not only prepared for their deaths but arranged for the care of [29] their children. Finally the promised sign appeared in the form of a monk from Palestine named Georgius.

Born in Bethlehem, Georgius resided in the large monastery of St. Sabba just south of Jerusalem. There he not only learned Greek, Latin, and Arabic but engaged in certain austerities, which would win for him the unbounded admiration of, among others, Eulogius, who was particularly impressed that Georgius had never taken a bath.(23) The chain of events leading up to his arrival in Córdoba began when his abbot sent him on a mission to solicit donations from daughter monasteries in North Africa. There Georgius found the church so "oppressed by the incursion of tyrants" that he decided to take a detour to Spain. Again he was surprised by the affliction he found. Leaving the city of Córdoba, he proceeded north to Tabanos, where the abbess Elizabeth, apparently recognizing him as a portent, referred him to Sabigotho. A dream identified him as the one for whom she had been waiting, and henceforth the monk and the couple sought martyrdom together. Soon Felix and Liliosa, having sold all of their porperty, joined them as well.

When the day of their public profession arrived, the women entered a church with unveiled faces and were immediately detected and arrested as apostate Muslims.(24) Meanwhile Aurelius, after making the final arrangements for his children, waited at home with Felix in anticipation of his own arrest. The soldiers came shortly after and marched them all to the judge. At first, the guards ignored Georgius. Their task had been to arrest the husbands of the apostates. But Georgius' quick verbal assault on Islam sufficed to bind his fate with that of the others.

As in the case of Flora, the newly discovered apostates were granted every opportunity to change their minds, but remained unmoved: "Any cult which denies the divinity of Christ, does not profess the essence of the Holy Trinity, refutes baptism, defames Christians and derogates the priesthood, we consider to be damned." After a four day imprisonment, the captives still refused to relent. The authorities, who had not heard Georgius' earlier diatribe, gave him permission to leave. The monk responded with a new outburst for their benefit, and, on July 27, 852, five more Christians were put to death.(25)

During that same summer, six more joined the ranks of martyrs. [30] Christophorus was a Cordoban-born monk residing at the monastery of St. Martin at Rojana in the mountains above the city. Learning of the other martyrs, he came forward to offer his confession and was immediately imprisoned bending execution. There he met Leovigildus, a monk from Granada who lived in the mountain monastery of St. Justus and St. Pastor, some fifteen miles north of Córdoba. He too had denounced Islam and on August 19 was killed along with Christophorus.(26)

The week prior to cAbd ar-Rabmân's death on September 22, 852, brought with it four more cases of blasphemy. Emila and Hieremias, childhood companions who had been educated together at the church of St. Cyprian, delivered an especially forceful denunciation of Islam in Arabic, one which served only to multiply the frustration of the dying emir.(27) As if to add insult to injury, the monk Rogelius from a village near Granada and the Syrian pilgrim Servus Dei entered the Cordoban mosque and, to the horror of the Muslim worshipers present, preached the truth of the gospel and the falsehood of Islam. Saved by the authorities from death at the hands of the irate crowd, the two were sentenced to a particularly grisly punishment for desecrating the mosque: their hands and feet were amputated prior to their decapitation.(28)

As we have already seen, one of the first official actions of the new emir, Muhammed I, was to purge the Cordoban bureaucracy of Christians. He must have been pleased with the apparent effect of this change in policy: the next nine months passed without incident. But again, as summer approached, a new parade of martyrs stepped forth.

Fandila, from the town of Guadix just east of Granada, had, like so many of the other martyrs, come to Córdoba gratia discendi. Residing first at Tabanos under abbot Martinus, Fandila rose to the priesthood, serving the needs of the monks of the nearby monastery at Pinna Mellaria. It was Fandila's vituperative confession which, according to Eulogius, pushed the emir to the point of considering the most drastic of measures for silencing the Cordoban Christians. He settled, however, for Fandila's head on June 13, 853.(29)

The very next day, three more Christians died. The priest Anastasius, who received his training at the church of St. Acisclus, turned to the monastic life before finally "descending to the forum" [31] to offer his confession. He was joined by the monk Felix, a native of Alcalá de Henares, fifty miles northeast of Toledo. Though of Numidian Muslim parentage, Felix was exposed to Christianity in Asturias, and later converted. The nun Digna from Tabanos, inspired by a vision of St. Agatha and by the news of the double execution, added her own name to the martyrology before the sun had set. The following day, an aged laywoman named Benildus sacrificed her life as well.(30)

The fact that two of the first five Christians executed under the new emir had been associated with the monastery of Tabanos, an institution that had already produced more than its share of martyrs, must have simplified Muhammed's decision about where to begin enforcing the restrictions on church building.(31) But the legacy of Tabanos as a fertile breeding ground for confessors outlived the monastery, which was leveled in the summer of 853. Columba, the sixth Christian to die under Muhammed I, was the sister of Elizabeth and Martinus, two of the co-founders of Tabanos. Having fortuitously evaded her mother's plan to give her away in marriage, Columba followed her siblings into their cloister. When the Muslims arrived to close Tabanos, she took up residence at the basilica of St. Cyprian, where she prepared herself penitentially for a martyr's death. On September 17 she was decapitated.(32)

Columba's example in turn prompted the nun Pomposa to seek martyrdom. Her parents had founded the monastery of St. Salvador at Pinna Mellaria which had already contributed the martyr Fandila. Now, three months later, Pomposa prepared to follow his example. Despite the efforts of her fellow nuns to dissuade her, she escaped to Córdoba, where she died on September 19, 853.(33)

After Pomposa's death, the executions became increasingly sporadic. Abundius, a priest from Ananellos in the Sierra Morena, died ten months later (July 11, 854) as the result of what Eulogius referred to as the "trickery of the gentiles."(34) Perhaps, like Perfectus, he unwittingly blasphemed Muhammed. In any case, another ten months would pass before the next executions. The priest Amator, who had come to Córdoba from a village near Jaén to study, joined forces with the monk Petrus from Pomposa's monastery of Pinna Mellaria, and Ludovicus, a brother of the deacon Paulus who had been one of the earliest martyrs in the [32] summer of 851. All three were executed for blasphemy on the last day of April 855.(35) At some unspecified point during the same year another Christian was executed for apostasy. This was the layman Witesindus from Cabra, thirty miles southeast of Córdoba, "who suffered a lapse of the holy faith" and converted to Islam only to convert back again.(36)

Helias, a priest from western Spain, and two monks named Paulus and Isidorus blasphemed and died on April 17, 856.(37) Two months later, Argimirus, a nobleman from Cabra who served as Muhammad I's censor, was executed for the same crime, but under very different circumstances.(38) Having, like Isaac, "retired from the administration of justice to inhabit the peace and quiet of a monastery," he was accused by Muslims of having degraded the prophet and professed the divinity of Christ. The emir gave him a rare chance to save his life by embracing Islam, but Argimirus refused and was hung up alive on a gibbet before being killed on June 28, 856.(39)

Three weeks later the virgin Aurea was executed, again under quite unique circumstances. Her father had been a Sevillan Muslim, yet for more than thirty years she lived with her mother Artemia as a nun in the convent at Cuteclara without the knowledge of her Muslim relatives. During that time she had seen her two brothers Joannes and Aduiphus executed for apostasy in the early 820s, and witnessed the deaths of Petrus, Walabonsus, and Maria, who were associated with her convent in the early 850s. When some of her Muslim relatives came from Seville and recognized her, they brought Aurea to a judge for religious rectification. Offered the choice of renouncing her Christianity or suffering the penalty for apostasy, Aurea opted for the former and was released. But bothered by her lack of fortitude she continued to practice Christianity, all the time preparing herself for her second encounter with the authorities. Finally discovered by her family to have relapsed, she was imprisoned and executed.(40)

The final two martyrs whose passions Eulogius recorded were Rudericus and Salomon. The former was a priest in Cabra whose family life was complicated by the fact that one of his two brothers had converted to Islam. Once, while Rudericus was intervening to break up a fight between his brothers, he received a blow which left him unconscious. His Muslim brother then dragged him through [33] the streets claiming that Rudericus had decided to embrace Islam. Upon regaining his senses and realizing what had happened, he left town fearing that he might be arrested for apostasy. He found what appeared to be a safe hideaway in the mountains above Córdoba, but one day he ran into his Muslim brother. Finding himself in front of the local qâdî, Rudericus denied the charge of apostasy on the grounds that he had never abandoned his Christianity in the first place. But his plea of innocence fell on deaf ears. The judge offered him the standard apostate's choice: accept Islam or die.(41) In prison Rudericus met Salomon, a Christian layman from some unspecified foreign land, who, like Felix and Witesindus, had converted to Islam and then reconverted to Christianity. After three attempts to change their minds, the authorities ordered them executed on March 13, 857.(42)

This is where Eulogius' martyrological accounts end. Yet we know that the executions did not cease with the deaths of Rudericus and Salomon in 857. Alvarus informs us that two years later the authorities arrested the virgin Leocritia for apostasy. "Begotten from the dregs of the gentiles," Leocritia was introduced to the teachings of Christianity by a relative named Litiosa. At first no one suspected that Leocritia's frequent visits to Litiosa's home were anything more than social. Even after her parents discovered the truth and tried to dissuade her, Leocritia refused to relent. But like Flora, Leocritia began to fear the spiritual consequences of practicing her religion surreptitiously. Using messengers, she sought the advice of Eulogius and his sister Anulo, who, like Litiosa, was also a "virgin dedicated to God." Both encouraged her to leave home. So as to be able to depart without arousing suspicion, Leocritia made it appear as if she were attending a wedding. But no sooner was she out of sight than she hastened to meet Eulogius and Anulo. Like Flora's brother, Leocritia's parents responded by applying pressure on the Christian community in an attempt to determine her whereabouts. But in this case the search efforts were hindered by Eulogius who made certain that the girl never stayed in any one hiding place for very long. Eulogius continued to meet with Leocritia to instruct her in the finer points of the faith. But after one of these sessions, her appointed escort failed to appear to lead her to her latest hiding place. A tip led the authorities to the house, where they not only arrested Leocritia for apostasy, but [34] Eulogius for proselytizing. On March 11, 859, Eulogius was decapitated.(43) Three days later Leocritia met the same fate.

Within the next year, two more Christians were executed. An envoy sent by Charles the Bald to gather information about the martyrs Aurelius and George, whose bodies had been recently translated to Paris, returned to report that he had witnessed the execution of the two sisters while he was in Córdoba.(44) Shortly afterward, according to abbot Samson, "a certain Christian was punished for blaspheming the one whom the gens Caidea venerate as a prophet."(45)

Though we have no evidence of any more executions for the duration of the ninth century, a variety of sources, even some Arabic ones, refer to similar incidents in the first half of the tenth. Sometime during the latter part of cAbd Allah's emirate (888-912), a Christian woman named Dhabba came before the Cordoban qâdî claiming that Jesus was God and that Muhammed had lied to his followers.(46) A few years after her execution, the qâdî Aslam ibn cAbd al-cAziz (913-920) was confronted with a Christian "requesting his own death." The judge's biographer wrote, by way of explanation, that "the nonsense or ignorance of the Christians led them to attribute great merit to this action of offering themselves to death."(47) An inscribed piece of marble, uncovered in the sixteenth century in Córdoba, allows us to identify still another martyr, Eugenia, who died on March 26, 923, but the circumstances of her death are unknown.(48)

In contrast to the lack of detail about these three martyrs, the accounts of Pelagius and Argentea, who died in 925 and 931 respectively, are full of information. Pelagius was ten years old when his father, a Galician nobleman, sent him to cAbd ar-Rahmân III's court in Córdoba as a hostage in return for the release of the boy's uncle, Bishop Hermogius of Tuy, who had been captured during a recent skirmish between Christian and Muslim forces. The boy remained confined for three and a half years until, according to the author of the passio, the caliph summoned him, offering him a life of ease in exchange for his conversion to Islam and his submission to the caliph's sexual advances. Pelagius refused both requests and was tortured and killed on June 26, 925.(49)

Argentea, the daughter of the great Andalusian rebel leader cUmar ibn Hafsun (d. 917), converted to Christianity and entered a [35] monastery in the vicinity of Córdoba. There she met Vulfura who, according to the anonymous passio, had come to Córdoba from France in response to a vision that had revealed to him his martyrial destiny. The authorities imprisoned Vulfura after they discovered him publicly preaching the gospel, and later arrested Argentea who, on one of her visits to the prison, was recognized as the daughter of cUmar ibn Hafsun. The authorities gave both of them the chance to convert to Islam and avoid execution, but they refused and were killed on May 13, 931.(50)

There is no reason to suppose that the martyrdoms ceased in 931 or, for that matter, that we even know about all of the incidents that occurred in the eighty or so years covered by the extant documentation. Eulogius' martyrology would seem to have exhausted the cases from 851 to 859, but after his death we know of no one who shared his interest in maintaining a catalogue of executed Christians. In other words, what might seem at first glance to be a significant decrease in the incidence of executions after 859 may have as much to do with the death of a hagiographer as with any real decline in the number of victims. Because we know of cases after Eulogius' time that were never incorporated into any martyrology we have to assume that, as unprecedented as the high incidence of spontaneous martyrdom in the early 850s was, the decision on the part of a Cordoban priest to record the victims' passions was equally unusual. Before we try to understand what prompted Isaac and the rest to provoke the authorities, we need to determine what motivated Eulogius to compose the passiones and promote their cults. As we shall see in the next chapter, this is not a part of the episode that has received its proper share of scholarly attention.

Notes for Chapter Two

1. Memoriale sanctorum 2.2 (PL 115:770; CSM 2:402).

2. Memoriale sanctorum 1, pref., 2 (PL 115:736-7; CSM 2:367).

3. Memoriale sanctorum 1, pref., 2-3 (PL 115:737; CSM 2:367-8).

4. Memoriale sanctorum 1, pref., 2-3 (PL 115:736-7; CSM 2:367-8). This type of crucifixion was a common penalty for treason and other serious offenses in the Islamic world. Eulogius uses the terms stipes, eculeus, and patibulum interchangeably to describe the gibbet used to suspend the bodies of the martyrs.

5. Memoriale sanctorum 2.2 (PL 115:770; CSM 2:402).

6. Memoriale sanctorum 2.1.1-2 (PL 115:766; CSM 2:398). Indiculus luminosus 3 (PL 121:518-9; CSM 1:275-6).

7. Memoriale sanctorum 2.1.2 (PL 115:766-7; CSM 2:398-9). Qur'ân 33.37.

8. Memoriale sanctorum 2.1 (PL 115:765-70; CSM 2:397-401); Indiculus luminosus 3 (PL 121:518-9; CSM 1:275-6).

9. Memoriale sanctorum 2.3 (PL 115:771; CSM 2402).

10. Specifically for the pursuit of liberales disciplinas. Many of the martyrs came to Córdoba for the same reason, suggesting that the center of the emirate was also something of a center of Latin Christian culture.

11. Memoriale sanctorum 2.4 (PL 115:771-2; CSM 2:403-4).

12. Memoriale sanctorum 2.5-6 (PL 115:772-4; CSM 2:404-6).

13. Though the circumstances of their deaths are unknown, it would appear, given the fact that Artemia's husband had been a Muslim, that they were convicted of apostasy.

14. Memoriale sanctorum 2.8.9-10 (PL 115:838-40; CSM 2:412-13).

15. Unless Flora had more than one sister who shared her religious sentiments, she fled with Baldegotho, the recipient of one of Eulogius' extant letters. Epistula 2 (PL 115:844-5; CSM 2:497).

16. Memoriale sanctorum 2.8.13 (PL 115:841; CSM 2:414).

17. It is difficult to determine whether Maria was regarded as a blasphemer or an apostate. In her confession she said nothing about her mixed heritage as she reminded the judge that her brother had already been executed for blasphemy. Yet she, like Flora, was given the opportunity to become a Muslim and have the charges dropped. Most likely the judge, or Eulogius, wanted to simplify matters and treat them the same despite the difference in circumstances.

18. Memoriale sanctorum 2.9 (PL 115:776; CSM 2:415).

19. Memoriale sanctorum 2.10.1-4 (PL 115:777-8; CSM 2:416-17).

20. Indiculus luminosus 5 (PL 121:520; CSM 1:277-8); Memoriale sanctorum 1.9 (PL 115:746-7; CSM 2:377-8).

21. Memoriale sanctorum 2.10.10 (PL 115:781-2; CSM 2:419-20).

22. Memoriale sanctorum 2.10.11 (PL 115:782; CSM 2:421).

23. Memoriale sanctorum 2.10.23 (PL 115:786-7; CSM 2:425-6).

24. Dhimmi women were not, according to Islamic law, allowed to wear the veils worn by Muslim women. Lewis, p. 37. There is no way of knowing whether or not this proscription was in effect in Córdoba, but it would seem that the decision of Sabigotho and Liliosa not to cover their faces was, as much as their entering a church, a way of publicizing their rejection of Islam.

25. Memoriale sanctorum 2.10.34 (PL 115:791-2; CSM 2:430).

26. Memoriale sanctorum 2.11 (PL 115:792-3; CSM 2:430-1).

27. The two died on September 15. Memoriale sanctorum 2.12 (PL 115:793; CSM


28. Memoriale sanctorum 2.13 (PL 115:793-5; CSM 2:432-3). As Eulogius reports, cAbd ar-Rahmân II fell ill the moment he ordered the bodies of these two martyrs, who had been executed on September 16, to be burned. Ibid. 2.16.2 (PL 115:797; CSM 2:436).

29. Memoriale sanctorum 3.7 (PL 115:804-5; CSM 2:444-5).

30. Memoriale sanctorum 3.8-9 (PL 115:805-6; CSM 2:445-7).

31. Franz R. Franke, in his "Die freiwilligen Märtyrer von Cordova und das Verhältnis des Mozarabes zum Islam," Spanische Forschungen des Gorresgesellschaft 13 (1953), p. 18, describes the monastery at Tabanos as a "Mittelpunkt" of the martyrs movement.

32. Memoriale sanctorum 3.10 (PL 115:806-12; CSM 2:447-52).

33. Memoriale sanctorum 3.11 (PL 115:812-13; CSM 2:452-4).

34. Memoriale sanctorum 3.12 (PL 115:813-14; CSM 2:454).

35. Memoriale sanctorum 3.13 (PL 115:814 CSM 2:454-5). Peter was buried at Pinna Mellaria, and Louis, downriver from Córdoba at Palma. Amator's body was apparently never recovered.

36. Memoriale sanctorum 3.14 (PL 115:814; CSM 2:455).

37. Memoriale sanctorum 3.15 (PL 115:814-15; CSM 2:455).

38. The judge who struck Isaac was reprimanded by a censor. This may or may not have been the same position that Argimirus occupied.

39. Memoriale sanctorum 3.16 (PL 115:815; CSM 2:455-6).

40. Memoriale sanctorum 3.17 (PL 115:815-18; CSM 2:456-9)

41. Liber apologeticus martyrum 21-4 (PL 115:862-64; CSM 2 488-90).

42. Liber apologeticus martyrum 25-35 (PL 115:864-70; CSM 2:490-6).

43. We will treat Eulogius death in more detail in chapter 4.

44. Florez, 10:541. Justo Pérez de Urbel, in his San Eulogio de Córdoba (Madrid, 1928), p. 314, observes that the sisters may well have been Aurelius' daughters, whom he had placed in the care of the monastery at Tabanos prior to his confession. But then we would have expected Charles' envoy, who was looking specifically for information about Aurelius, to identify the two new martyrs as his daughters.

45. Samson, Apologeticus 2 pref., 9 (CSM 2:554).

46. Lévi-Provençal 1:231-2.

47. Historia de los jueces, p. 231.

48. Enrique Florez, et al., España sagrada, 52 vols. (Madrid, 1747-1918)10:462-4. As Florez points out, the fact that the inscription identifies a martyr about whom nothing else is recorded, suggests that there may have been many martyrs about whom we know nothing at all.

49. Florez 23:230-5. Hroswitha (c.935-c.1000), a nun in the Saxon abbey of Gandersheim, composed, among her many works, a lyrical Passio sancti Pelagii. The fact that Otto I had commercial ties with the Cordoban caliphate lends credence to Hroswitha's claim that she relied on eyewitnesses, not on the account of Raguel, for her version. M. Gonsalva Wiegand, "The nondramatic works of Hroswitha" (dissertation, St. Louis University, 1936), pp. 128-53.

50. Florez 10:564-70. In the passio Argentea's father is identified as Samuel. Arab sources allow for his identification as cUmar ibn Hafsun. Lévi-Provençal 2:21, note 1.