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E03292: The Lives of the Fathers of Mérida written in Latin in 633/660, in Mérida (south-west Spain) recount the conflict in the city over the basilica and relics of *Eulalia (virgin and martyr of Mérida, S00407) between the Arian King Leovigild and his bishop Sunna, and Bishop Masona of Mérida in 569/586.

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posted on 15.07.2017, 00:00 authored by mszada
Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, 5.5-6

The author describes how King Leovigild appointed an Arian bishop in Merida, named Sunna, who seized a number of basilicas in the city.

5.5. ... [7] Quumque toto adnisu Dei famulum uel omnes fideles iam dictus infidelis exquisitis artibus exturbare uellet nec posset, fretus fabore regio baselicam sanctissime uirginis Eolalie passim adgredi nitebatur, ut eam sublatam de proprii episcopi potestate Arriane heresi dedicaret. [8] Cui quum sanctus Masona episcopus uel uniuersus cum eo populus resisteret ac uehementer obpugnaret, supradictus pseudoepiscopus Sunna antefato principi multa in accusationem sancti uiri scripsit eique suggessit ut ipsa sacra baselica, quam adire iniaberat, catholicorum potestate sublata dicionis sue regio imperio traderetur. [9] Ad hec ille talem fertur promulgasse sententiam, ut residentibus in atrio eclesie iudicibus utrique episcopi ab eisdem adsumti adessent ipsisque coram positis utriusque partis defensionem conflictu disputationis altercarent alternis que aduersum se congressionibus dimicantes de sanctarum scripturarum uoluminibus, queque ab eis essent dicta, prolatis testimoniis adstruerent uel roborarent; et cuius pars triumphum brabii obtineret, ipse nicilominus eclesiam sancte Eolalie sibimet uindicaret. [10] At ubi huiuscemodi decretum crebrescente rumore in auribus almi uiri Masone personauit, ilico basilicam sancte uirginis Eolalie preproperus petiit tribusque diebus tothidemque noctibus parsimoniis et fletibus perseuerans ante altare, sub quo uenerabile corpusculum sacre martiris situm est, pauimento prostratus incubuit.

'5.5 ... 7. When this infidel [Sunna] had tried with all his might to trouble the servant of God and all the faithful by his cunning devices and had failed, relying on royal favour he continually tried to seize the basilica of the most holy Eulalia, so that having snatched it from its rightful bishop he might dedicate it to the Arian heresy. 8. The holy bishop Masona and all the people with him resisted and fought vigorously against him, so the false bishop Sunna wrote a long indictment against the holy man to Leovigild and suggested to him that the holy basilica which he longed to enter be taken from the possession of the Catholics and put under his own control by royal decree. 9. In response to this the following judgement was made: judges were to sit in the episcopal palace and both bishops be summoned and appear before them. Then they were to engage in debate in judges’ presence, each setting forth in turn a defence of their position. And so debating one after the other, they were to construct or adduce support for their case from the books of Holy Scripture, wherever there these things might be written and whichever side won the prize of victory, they too would win for themselves the church of St Eulalia.[10. When this decree, as the rumour grew, came to the hearing of the gentle Masona, straightaway he hurried to the basilica of the holy virgin Eulalia, and for three days and as many nights fasted and wept before the altar beneath which the venerable body of the martyr lay, prostrating himself on the flags.'


The Arian bishop Sunna arrives for the debate swollen with pride. He speaks first and makes a speech full of wickedness and obscenity. Masona then speaks with outstanding eloquence and wisdom, reducing Sunna to embarrassed silence. The judges, even though most of them are Arian supporters of the king, are forced to acknowledge that Masona was the victor.

[20] Tunc denique uiderunt recti et letati sunt et omnis iniquitas obdurauit os suum, quoniam obstruxit Deus os loquentium iniqua. Cuncti igitur fideles uehementer admirati sunt quia, quamuis uirum hunc antea nossent eloquentissimum, numquam tamen eum tam scolasticos sermones, tam nitidos tamque lucifluo eloquio reminiscebant fuisse loquutum. [21] Tunc protinus omnes ortodoxi omnesque catholici, prostratis superatisque hostibus, in laudibus adclamauerunt dicentes: Quis similis tibi in diis, Domine? Quis similis tibi et non est secundum opera tua? [22] Deinde ad baselicam gloriose uirginis Eolalie una cum uictore antistite Masona unanimiter perrexerunt, in Dei nimirum laudibus exultantes uenerunt inmensisque fragoribus iubilantes sacratissimum eius templum introierunt, infinitas grates omnipotenti Domino retulerunt, qui ad sacre sue uirginis templum in sublime erexerat famulos et ad nicilum suos reduxerat inimicos.

'20. Then the righteous saw what had happened and rejoiced and all evil held its tongue for God had closed the mouths of those preaching iniquity. And all the faithful were greatly astonished because although they had known beforehand that Masona was a most eloquent man they could not remember when he had ever preached such a learned discourse so elegantly and illuminatingly. 21. Then, their foes laid low in defeat, all the Orthodox and Catholic people cried out in praise,"Among the Gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto your works" (Ps. 86:8/Vg. 85:8) 22. All of one accord they went to the basilica of the glorious virgin Eulalia together with their triumphant bishop Masona. Loudly exulting in their praise of God they came and rejoicing with much shouting they entered his most holy church and gave countless thanks to the almighty Lord who had exulted His servants on high for the sake of the church of His holy virgin and reduced His enemies to nothing.'


This does not end Sunna's attacks on Masona, however. He continually seeks to incite Leovigild against the bishop. Finally Masona is arrested and brought from Merida to the royal court at Toledo, where the king angrily berates and insults him.

5.6 ... [11] Cuius constantia magis magisque permotus insanissimus rex multo magis cepit rauido ore rauidioribus aduersus Dei famulum infrendere latratibus. [12] Deinde ut tunicam sanctissime uirginis Eolalie ei presentaret, quam in baselicam Arriane prauitatis ibidem in Toleto habere deueret, cepit minis terroribusque inpellere. [13] Ad hec uir Dei respondit: "Conpertum tibi sit quia cor meum sordibus Arriane supprestitionis numquam maculabo, tam peruersi dogmatis mentem meam numquam inquinabo. Tunicam domine mee Eolalie sacrilegis hereticorum manibus polluendam uel etiam summis digitis contrectedam numquam tradebo neque a te repperta quoquumque tempore possideri potest". [14] Hec profanus tirannus audiens in furore uesanie uersus festinanter celeriterque ad Emeretensem urbem misit, qui ubique ipsam sanctam tunicam sollicite requirerent et tam in tesaurum eclesie sancte Eolalie quam etiam in tesaurum eclesie senioris, que uocatur sancta Iherusalem, sagaciter scrutantes eousque perquirerent, quousque reppertam ad eum deferrent. [15] Qui quum uenissent et ubique strenue requisissent, minime reppererunt ac sic uacui ad regem suum redierunt. Quod quum ei renuntiarent, acrius infrendere cum dentium stridore contra uirum Dei diabolus cepit. [16] Qui quum eius obtutibus sisteretur, ayt ad eum: "Aut dic ubi est quod requiro aut, si non dixeris, cognosce te grauibus afficiendum esse iniuriis et post in regionem longinquam in exilium proficisci, ubi multis erumnis affectus omnibusque necessitatibus intolerabiliter cruciatus crudeli morte deficies". [17] Ad hec uir Domini talem fertur dedisse responsum: "Exilium mici minaris? Conpertum tibi sit quia minas tuas non pertimesco et exilium nullatenus pabesco, et ideo obsecro te ut, si nosti aliquam regionem ubi Deus non est, illic me exilio tradi iubeas". [18] Cui ille ayt: "Et in quo loco Deus non est, biothonate?" Et uir Dei respondit: "Si nosti quia in omni loco Deus est, cur mici exilium minaris? Nam ubiquumque me direxeris, nobi quia non me derelinquet pietas Domini. Sed et hoc certum habeo, quia quantum tu in me crudelius fueris debaccatus, tanto magis me misericordia eius subsequitur et consolauit clementia eius". [19] Ob cuius constantia maiori supplicio pessime mentis sue insanissimus tirannus interius afflictus, felle et amaritudine nimia permotus ayt ad eum: "Aut presenta mici ipsam tunicam quam fraudulenter surripuisti aut, si non presentaueris, diuersis suppliciis faciam diuaricari membra tua". [20] Cui milex Dei ita inperterritus respondit: "Iam dixi tibi semel et iterum quia minas tuas non formidabo. Sed quidquid ualet mens tua peruersa amplius aduersum me excogitet. Ego tamen nec te pertimesco nec metu territus id quod requiris presentabo. Sed hoc scito, quia tunicam ipsam igne conbussi pulberesque ex ea feci et in licorem aque permixtos bibi". [21] Et tactu manus sue contrectans stomacum suum dicebat: "Euidenter cognoscere quia in pulberes redacta bibi illam et ecce hic intus in uentre meo est. Numquam tibi illam reddo". Hoc autem ideo dicebat, quia nullo sciente sibi eam in stomaco plicatam infra sua indumenta linteis inuolutam precinxerat et ita eam Deo solo conscio gestabat. Nam sic cecauit Deus oculos ipsius regis et omnium adsistentium ei, ut nullus intellegeret quemammodum ista prosequeretur uir Dei.

'5.6 .... 11. The mad king was tormented more and more by his constancy and so redoubled the rabid yelpings of his foaming mouth against the servant of God. 12. He began to threaten him in terrible ways to hand over the tunic of the most holy virgin Eulalia in order that he might hang it in the basilica dedicated to Arian depravity there in Toledo. 13. To this the man of God replied, "Know that I shall never soil my heart with the filth of Arian superstition, that I shall never befuddle my wits with its perverted dogma, and that I shall never hand over the tunic of my lady Eulalia to be polluted by the hands or even the finger tips of heretics. You shall never have it however long you try." 14. On hearing this, the profane tyrant flew into a rage of madness and in all haste swiftly sent to the city of Merida, instructing his men to look diligently everywhere for the holy tunic, and search with c

History

Evidence ID

E03292

Saint Name

Eulalia, martyr of Mérida (Spain), ob. 303/305 : S00407

Saint Name in Source

Eolalia

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

633

Evidence not after

660

Activity not before

569

Activity not after

586

Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Merida

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

Merida Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Acceptance/rejection of saints from other religious groupings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracles experienced by the saint Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Miraculous intervention in issues of doctrine

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Monarchs and their family Heretics

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Theft/appropriation of relics Eating/drinking/inhaling relics

Source

The Lives of the Fathers of Mérida (Vitas Sanctorum Patrum Emeretensium) is a complex hagiographical work composed c. 633/650. The last bishop mentioned in the text is bishop Renovatus who died in 633. J. Garvin (1946) thought the Lives were composed during the episcopacy of Renovatus' successor, Bishop Stephen (633-638). A.T. Fear (1997, xxxi) following Diaz y Diaz (1981) preferred to date the work slightly later, to the middle of the 7th century, The Lives consist of five parts, the first three recount miraculous stories that took place in Mérida, in imitation of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (written probably 593/594). The last two tell the history of the bishops of Mérida from the second half of the 6th century: Paul, Fidelis, Masona, and Renovatus. The author of the Lives identifies himself as a deacon of the church of Saint Eulalia. The edition of Maya Sánchez from 1992 is based on ten manuscripts, the earliest of the 10th c. (Maya Sánchez 1992: x–xxxi).

Bibliography

Editions: Garvin, J.N., The Vitas Sanctorum Patrum Emeretensium (Washington, 1946). Maya Sánchez, A., Vitas sanctorum patrum Emeretensium (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 116; Turnhout, 1992). English translation: Fear. A.T., Lives of the Visigothic Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 26; Liverpool, 1997), 45-105. Further reading: Diaz y Diaz, M.D., "Passionnaires, légendiers et compilations hagiographiques dans le haut Moyen Age espagnol," in: Hagiographie, Cultures, et Sociétés, IVe-XIIe siècles. Actes du colloque organisé à Nanterre et à Paris, 2-5 mai 1979 (Paris, 1981), 49-61.

Continued Description

are both the treasury of the church of Eulalia and that of the senior church which is called Holy Jerusalem until they should find it and bring it to him. 15. When they arrived there, they searched with diligence everywhere, but did not find it and so returned empty-handed to their king. When they told him of their failure, the devil gnashing his teeth raged all the more fiercely against the man of God. 16. When Masona was brought into his presence, Leovigild said to him, "Tell me where the thing which I seeks lies, and know that if you do not speak, you shall be severely tortured and then exiled to a far-away place, where afflicted with many tribulations and suffering a lack of every necessity you shall die a cruel death." 17. To this the man of the Lord is said to have replied as follows: "Do you threaten me with exile? Know that l do not fear your threats and am in no way troubled by the prospect of exile and so I beg you that if you know any land where God is not present, command that I be exiled there." The king replied, "And where is God not present, living corpse?" To which the man of God responded, "lf you already see that God is everywhere, why do you threaten me with exile? For wherever you send me, I know that the piety of the Lord will not abandon me. This too I know full well, that the more you cruelly rave against me, the more will His mercy follow me and His clemency bring me comfort." 19. Because of Masona’s constancy the mad tyrant was inwardly stricken with a great seizure of his wicked mind and moved by gall and great bitterness said to him, "Either give me the tunic which you have deceitfully stolen or, if you do not, I shall have your limbs torn apart by diverse tortures." 20. The soldier of God fearlessly replied, "I have already told you time and again that I do not fear your threats. Let your twisted mind devise yet more threats against me to the limits of its ability. I shall not fear you nor overcome by fright give you what you seek. Know this, that I have burnt the tunic, ground it to ashes, and mixing its ashes with water have drunk them down." 21. And rubbing his stomach with his hands he said, "Let it be known to all that I reduced it to ashes and drank it and, lo, here it is within my belly, I shall never give it to you." He spoke thus because unknown to all he had folded it up and was wearing it round his stomach beneath his clothes wrapped in linen clothes and so he wore it, as God alone knew. But God so blinded the eyes of the king and all his court that no one discovered the man of God’s ploy.'Leovigild orders Masona to be sent into exile. He is forced to mount an unbroken horse, which the king hopes will kill him. However: [26] Statimque in nomine Domini edicto uexillo crucis sanctissimus sacerdos ascendit equum ferocem, quem ei Dominus uelut agnum mansuetissimum reddidit. Cepit namque cum omni mansuetudine et cautela itineris sui pergere uiam qui paulo ante inmenso flatu et fremitu atque incessanti totius corporis motu quasi despiciendo alium ferre recusabat. '26. But the holy priest making the sign of the cross in the Lord’s name, mounted the wild horse which God made as tame as the gentlest lamb for him. Then the creature which but shortly before with great snorting, whinnying, and continually bucking with all its body had refused to carry another as if it despised its would-be riders, set off to take him on his way with the utmost gentleness and care.'Masona is sent into exile, accompanied only by three servants, but he uses his exile in a monastery to achieve even greater holiness.Text: Maya Sánchez 1992, 56-71 (text numbering from Garvin 1945, as used by Fear). Translation: Fear 1997, 78-87.

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