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E00934: Latin poem on a baptistery constructed at the place of martyrdom of *Emeterius and Celidonius (soldiers and martyrs of Calahorra, S00410), is composed by Prudentius, writing c. 400 in Calahorra, northern Spain. In the poem, part of his Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), Prudentius plays with the association between baptism with blood and with water.

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posted on 2015-12-04, 00:00 authored by mtycner
Liber Peristephanon, Poem VIII

De loco in quo martyres passi sunt nunc baptisterium est Calagorra

Electus Christo locus est, ubi corda probata
prouehat ad caelum sanguine, purget aqua.
hic duo purpureum domini pro nomine caesi
martyrium pulchra morte tulere uiri.
5 Hic etiam liquido fluit indulgentia fonte
ac ueteres maculas diluit amne nouo.
Qui cupit aeternum caeli conscendere regnum,
huc ueniat sitiens, ecce parata uia est.
Ante coronati scandebant ardua testes
10 atria, nunc lotae celsa petunt animae.
Spiritus aeterno solitus descendere lapsu,
ut dederat palmam, sic tribuit ueniam,
Haurit terra sacros aut fonte aut sanguine rores
exundatque suo iugiter uda deo.
15 Ipse loci est dominus, laterum cui uulnere utroque
hinc cruor effusus fluxit et inde latex,
Ibitis hinc, ut quisque potest, per uulnera Christi
euectus gladiis alter et alter aquis.

'On a Spot where Martyrs suffered at Calagurris, now a Baptistery.

This is a spot chosen of Christ for raising tried souls to heaven through blood, and for cleansing them with water. Here two heroes that were slain for the Lord's name won scarlet martyrdom by their noble death, and here too mercy flows in the limpid fount and washes away old stains in its new stream. Whoso desires to ascend to the everlasting kingdom of the heavens, let him come here in his thirst, and he will find the way is made ready. Formerly crowned witnesses went up to the courts on high, now cleansed souls seek the heights. The Spirit who is wont to come down unendingly now offers pardon, as once He gave the palm of victory. The earth drinks in sacred drops of water or of blood and is ever wet and streaming to the glory of her God. The Lord of the place is He from whose two wounded sides flowed here discharge of blood, there of water. When you pass from here you will have been raised up through Christ's wounds, each as he is able, one by the sword, another by water.'

Text: Cunningham 1966: 325. Translation: Thomson 1953, 218-221.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

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

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems


  • 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

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

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).


The poem, written in the elegiac distichs, is the shortest work in the Peristephanon. It describes the baptistery erected at the site of the martyrdom of Emeterius and Celidonius which was marked by a miracle (see Poem I.82-93). We do not know whether the building actually existed. It is possible, but no archaeological proof has yet been found in Calahorra or neighbourhood. See Fux 2013, 226.


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).

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