University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00762: Prudentius in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), in a poem on the martyrdom of *Emeterius and Celidonius (soldiers and martyrs of Calahorra, S00410), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain) mentions people seeking help at the place of their martyrdom.

online resource
posted on 2015-10-09, 00:00 authored by mtycner
Liber Peristephanon, Poem I.1-24

Hymnus In Honorem Sanctorum Martyrum Emeteri Et Chelidoni Calagurritanorum.

Scripta sunt caelo duorum martyrum uocabula,
aureis quae Christus illic adnotauit litteris,
sanguinis notis eadem scripta terris tradidit.

Pollet hoc felix per orbem terra Hibera stemmate,
5 hic locus dignus tenendis ossibus uisus deo,
qui beatorum pudicus esset hospes corporum.

Hic calentes hausit undas caede tinctus duplici,
inlitas cruore sancto nunc harenas incolae
confrequentant obsecrantes uoce uotis munere.

10 Exteri nec non et orbis huc colonus aduenit,
fama nam terras in omnes percucurrit proditrix
hic patronos esse mundi quos precantes ambiant.

Nemo puras hic rogando frustra congessit preces,
laetus hinc tersis reuertit supplicator fletibus
15 omne quod iustum poposcit inpetratum sentiens.

Tanta pro nostris periclis cura suffragantium est,
non sinunt inane ut ullus uoce murmur fuderit;
audiunt statimque ad aurem regis aeterni ferunt.

Inde larga fonte ab ipso dona terris influunt,
20 supplicum causas petitis quae medellis inrigant;
nil suis bonus negavit Christus umquam testibus,

testibus quos nec catenae dura nec mors terruit
unicum deum fateri sanguinis dispendio,
sanguinis sed tale damnum lux rependit longior.

'A Hymn in Honour of the Holy Martyrs Emeterius and Chelidonius of Calagurris

Written in heaven are the names of two martyrs. Christ has entered them there in letters of gold, while on earth He has recorded them in characters of blood. For this glory the land of Spain has the fortune to be held in honour through all the world. This spot has seemed to God worthy to keep their bones, pure enough to be host to their blessed bodies. It drank in the warm stream when it was wetted by the slaughter of the two, and now its people throng to visit the ground that was coloured with their holy blood, making petitions with voice and heart and gifts; (10) and dwellers in the outside world too come here, for report has run through all lands publishing the news that here are patrons of the whole earth whose favour they may seek by prayer. No man here in making his requests has offered sincerely prayer on prayer in vain; from here the petitioner returns happy, with his tears dried, and conscious that all his righteous requests have been granted. With such concern for our perils do they work for us that they suffer no whisper any man has uttered to go for naught; they listen to our prayer and straightway carry it to the ear of the everlasting King. (19) Hence gifts flow generously to earth from the very fountain-head, pouring on the petitioners' maladies the healing remedies they sought for. For Christ in his goodness has never refused anything to his witnesses,—witnesses whom neither chains nor cruel death deterred from confessing the one God at the cost of their blood; but such loss of their blood is repayed by life prolonged.'

Text: Cunningham 1966: 251-252. Translation: Thomson 1953, 98-101, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Emeterius and Celidonius, soldier martyrs of Calahorra (Spain), ob.? : S00410

Saint Name in Source

Emeterius, Chelidonius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Places

Place of martyrdom of a saint

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - blood


Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).


On the poem see E00761. In the quoted passage, Prudentius describes the place of the saints` martyrdom as one where the martyrs can act particularly effectively as intercessors, though he does not make it clear whether there was a shrine on the site. A special role in this intercession is played by their blood which soaked into the ground. Prudentius also mentions people coming to Calahorra from distant places and praying there, and explicitly refers to healings which take place through the agency of the martyrs. Interestingly, Prudentius pays much more attention to the saints' place of martyrdom than to any grave that they might have had at the city.


Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

Usage metrics