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E03509: The Lives of the Fathers of Mérida written in Latin in 633/660, in Mérida (south-west Spain), tells the story of a woman, a debtor of Bishop Fidelis (c. 560-570). Fidelis, seriously ill, lies in the basilica of *Eulalia (virgin and martyr of Mérida, S00407) and remits debts, returning pledges. The woman, however, is unable to receive her remission because of the great crowd. At home, she has a vision of the martyrs *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411) and *Laurence, (deacon and martyr of Rome, S00037) who say that she failed because she never visited their basilicas.

online resource
posted on 2017-08-01, 00:00 authored by mszada
Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, 4.10

A certain devout man has a vision predicting the death of Bishop Fidelis. He informs Fidelis about it and the bishop confesses that he is aware that he will soon be dead (see $E03511).

[1] Cum que hoc dixisset et inminenti egritudine artubus iam fatescentibus se totum repente dissolui sensisset, ad baselicam sanctissime uirginis Eolalie se deferri precepit. [2] Sua ibidem in primis multis lacrimarum satisfactionibus defleuit delicta. Deinde multis captiuis et egenis multa largitus est stipem. Ad ultimum redditis cirografis cunctorum deuita relaxauit. [3] Sed dum omnibus reddidisset, cautio cuiusdam uidue remanserat que necdum fuerat reddita, quam ille uidue expectaret ut ei redderet, sed quemammodum muliercula pre turbe densitate, qua circumseptus erat, ut accederet non habebat. [4] Que quum per singulos dies ueniret et locum minime repperisset et nimium mestificata mente anxiaret nicil que agens merore afflicta ad suum ospitium remearet, [5] ei quadam nocte sanctissimi Ciprianus et Laurentius martires in uisu adstiterunt dicentes: "Nosti quare locum non inuenis?" At illa respondit: "Nescio". Et illi inquiunt: "Quare per reliquas baselicas fratrum nostrorum ceterorum martirum frequenter concurris, ad nos uenire contemnis?" [6] Que statim surgens ad eorum baselicas concurrit, orationem cum lacrimis fudit, pro neclegentiam retrohacti temporis ueniam implorauit atque inde ad baselicam sancte Eolalie mox rediit, mira celeritate locum repperit, cirografum suum absque ulla difficultate recepit, [7] Deo et sanctis eius inmensas grates retulit pro quod non solum locum paratum inuenire meruit ingrediendi, uerum etiam ita sanctis Dei disponentibus gestum est ut, quando ingressa est, sanctus episcopus cautionem ipsam manu propria tenens prestolaret cui reformare deberet. [8] Atque ita factum est ut, illo benigne reddente atque illa cum gaudio que diu desiderauerat recipiente, paulo post uir sanctus, precedentibus sanctorum cetibus expectantibus que angelicis choris, ad etherea regna tripudiando migraret celestibus que falangiis consertus cum exultatione perpetua perpetim conglobari in sidereis mansionum, Ihesu Domino precipiente, meruerit. Corpusculum uero eius iuxta corpus sanctissimi prodecessoris sui uno eodem que sarcouago traditum ueluti in uno lectulo honorifice est tumulatum.

'1. When he said this and straightaway felt his entire body give way, his limbs losing their strength as the disease fell upon them, he ordered that he be taken to the basilica of the most holy virgin Eulalia. 2. There he first wept for his sins, gaining satisfaction in floods of tears. Then he gave large sums of alms to prisoners and the needy. Finally he remitted everyone’s debts, returning their pledges to them. 3. When he had returned these to one and all, there remained the notice of a certain widow which had not yet been returned. He waited for the widow to return it to her, but, like the feeble woman she was, she was unable to approach him because he was surrounded by a dense crowd. 4. When she had come for several days and had been unable to find a place, she panicked, her mind making her sorrowful, and, achieving nothing, she returned grief-stricken to her lodgings. 5. Then one night the most holy martyrs Cyprian and Laurence appeared before her in a dream and said, "Do you know why you cannot get a place?", and she replied, "I know not." They then said to her, "Why do you often hurry to the basilicas of the rest of our brethren and yet spurn to come to us?" 6. She rose at once and hurried to their basilicas and weeping poured out her prayers, begging pardon for the neglect she had showed in the past. She then went to the basilica of saint Eulalia and with wondrous speed found a place and received her notice without any difficulty. 7. She gave great thanks to God, for she had not only found her appointed place as she entered, but also because it had been so devised by the saints of God that when she had entered the holy bishop had been holding her notice in his hand waiting for the individual to whom he should return it. 8. And it came to pass that after he had in his good will returned it and she had joyfully received what she had long longed for, shortly afterwards the holy man, preceded by the hosts of saints and expectant angelic choruses, passed exultantly to the celestial realms, and joining the heavenly hosts with everlasting joy earned the right, at Lord Jesus' command, to be gathered into the heavenly mansions. 9. His body was placed by that of his most holy predecessor in one and the same tomb and buried with honour in, so to speak, the same bed.'

Text: Maya Sánchez 1992, 44-46 (text numbering from Garvin 1945, as used by Fear). Translation: Fear 1997, 71-72.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eulalia, martyr of Mérida (Spain), ob. 303/305 : S00407 Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Africa) and martyr, ob. 258 : S00411 Laurence, martyr of Rome, ob. 258 : S00037

Saint Name in Source

Eolalia Ciprianus Laurentius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • 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)

Merida Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops


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).


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.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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