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E00814: Latin poem on the burial church of the *Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa (Spain) is composed in mid-7th c. by Eugenius, bishop of Toledo (Spain). Lists the names of all the martyrs, and also mentions *Encratis/Encratia (confessor of Saragossa, S00512) buried separately in this church of Saragossa.

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posted on 2015-10-29, 00:00 authored by mtycner

Incolit hoc templum sat felix turba piorum,
quorum promeruit sors benedicta polum.
hic morte sacros, virtutum culmine celsos
unica ter senos continet urna viros.
fumea caenosi liquerunt gaudia mundi
proque fide domini membra dedere neci.
hic etiam conpar meritis Encratia martyr
sorte sepulcrali dissociata iacet;
huius inexhaustum testantur sancta triumphum
palla cruore rubens, secta papilla fibris.
nomina magnorum si mavis nosse virorum,
edicet cursim subdita summa tibi.
sed quia cuncta simul metrum non suscipit unum,
accipe diversis haec variata metris:
Quintilianus adest, Euodius atque Cassianus,
Felix, Lupercus Ianuariusque,
Iulius, Vrbanus, Apodemius, inde Primitivus,
Optatus, Publius, Caecilianus.
hic Successus inest, hic Matutinus habetur,
ecce Faustus, ecce Fronto postque Martialis.
haec tibi turba potens concedat prospera, lector,
et veniam praestet haec tibi turba potens.


'In this temple dwells a happy crowd of the faithful, whose blessed fate earned them heaven. Here, a single urn contains three times six men, holy through their death, elevated by the height of their virtues. They left the volatile joys of the impure world, and, for the faith of the Lord, gave their limbs to death. Here lies the martyr Encratia, equal in merits, separated in her tomb; her sacred garment, red with blood, and her nipple cut off from her flesh, give witness to her unexhausted triumph. If you prefer to know the names of the great men, the following list will instantly announce them to you. But since the whole list does not take one and the same meter, take these varied things in different meters: Here is Quintilianus, Evodius and Cassianus, Felix, Lupercus and Ianuarius, Iulius, Urbanus, Apodemius, there Primitivus, Optatus, Publius, Caecilianus. Here is Successus, here we have Matutinus. Here Faustus, here Fronto and then Martialis. May this mighty crowd grant you prosperity, o reader, and may this mighty crowd offer you indulgence.'

Text: Vollmer 1905, 239-240. Translation: Marta Tycner.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eighteen martyrs of Saragossa (Spain), ob. before 304 : S00485 Encratis, girl tortured in Saragossa (Spain), ob. in the 4th c. : S00512

Saint Name in Source

decem et octo martyres, turba piorum, etc. Encratia

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Toledo Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eugenius of Toledo, Poems

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Collections of multiple relics Bodily relic - other body parts Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes Bodily relic - blood


Eugenius, bishop of Toledo in Spain in 646-657, was the most prominent poet of the Visigothic era, as well as the author of a theological treatise, liturgical works and letters. His works, composed in Latin, are of high literary quality: in his poetry he mastered diverse classical metres and chose a variety of topics, such as the human condition, illness and death. Among his poems we find four devoted to important churches and saints in Spain: two churches in Saragossa (of the *Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa and of *Vincent of Valencia), the church of *Emilianus (just possibly in today's San Millian de la Cogolla) and the church of *Felix in Tatanesium (probably near Toledo). It is impossible to say, what exactly made him choose these particular churches and saints. According to his Life, written several years after Eugenius' death by his successor Ildefonsus of Toledo, he himself collected his works in two books, one of which contained his poems; this composition does not survive as a whole, but numerous manuscripts preserve parts of it. Eugenius was an influential author and his poetry was admired, quoted and paraphrased by many medieval authors in Spain and beyond. We find his verses (primarily epitaphs, but not exclusively) also on medieval inscriptions.


Eugenius devotes two of his poems to churches in Saragossa. In the one quoted here he deals with the prominent group of *Eighteen Martyrs, whom we know already from a poem composed by Prudentius at the turn of the fourth century (E00799). Both Prudentius and Eugenius give the names of the Eighteen Martyrs, which however differ from each other: Eugenius lists *Cassianus, *Ianuarius, *Matutinus and *Faustus instead of Prudentius' 'four martyrs called *Saturninus'. He also knows *Julius (not *Julia, as in Prudentius) and *Lupercus (not *Luperculus). There is also a minor difference in the spelling of the name *Evodius (not *Evotius). Like Prudentius, Eugenius groups the saints in pairs, but they are not the same as in Prudentius; Eugenius' groupings seem to be assembled in order to fit the metre. Prudentius says that the Eighteen Martyrs were victims of different persecutions, and groups some of the names in pairs, so that one might have the impression that the martyrs were killed together. This impression is lost in Eugenius' text. We learn that the eighteen martyrs were buried in one tomb, or that their relics were kept in one reliquary – the exact meaning of the term urna (urn) is not entirely clear. Only the martyr *Encratis (Encratia), not counted amongst the eighteen, is buried separately. Prudentius in his poem described Encratis as a girl who survived tortures and later wrote down the suffering of the other martyrs of Saragossa. This detail is not present in Eugenius' poem, but instead we learn that the tortures (described by Prudentius generally as cutting of the flesh) consisted of cutting off at least one of Encratis' breasts (pupilla, 'nipple'). Although it is not stated explicitly, the nipple and Encratis' garment might have been stored in the church as her relics. Eugenius does not mention two other martyrs of Saragossa that Prudentius was interested in, *Gaius and Crementius.


Edition: Vollmer, F., Fl. Merobaudis reliquiae, Blossii Aemilii Dracontii Carmina, Eugenii Toletani episcopi carmina et epistulae (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi 14; Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1905).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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