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E03537: The Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, written in Latin in 633/660 in Mérida (south-west Spain), tells how *Eulalia (virgin and martyr of Mérida, S00407) appears in a vision to the exiled Bishop Masona and promises him he will be restored to his see. Later she appears to the Arian King Leovigild, flogs him and orders him to bring Masona back to Mérida. On his way back, Masona meets the servants of his church who had been forced by Masona's replacement Nepopis to load church property, considered to belong to Eulalia, onto wagons and to take it to Nepopis' home city.

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posted on 2017-08-07, 00:00 authored by mszada
Lives of the Fathers of Mérida, 5.8

Because of the conflict of Bishop Masona with the Arian king Leovigild over the basilica and the relic of Eulalia in Mérida, Masona is exiled from his city ($E03292). He lives with a small group of his followers, and gives everything he has for the needs of the poor.

[1] Post aliquos uero dies, quum in baselicam ipsius monasterii gratia orationis intrasset, subito super altare eiusdem sancte baselice sacratissima uirgo Eolalia in columbe speciem niuei candoris apparuit eum que blande alloquens, utpote piissima domina, fidelissimum consolare dignata est seruulum. Deinde ayt ad eum: "Ecce iam tempus est ut ad tuam regrediens ciuitatem pristinum mici debeas exibere seruitium". Et hec dicens alacri uolatu ab oculis eius euanuit.[2] Vir autem Dei, licet tante uisionis tante que consolationis gratia exultaret, flere tamen nimium cepit, quod quietem paupertatis et peregrinationis sue amittens ad turbines et procellas mundiales reuerteretur. Non illi quippe ambiguum erat id quod audierat confestim esse conplendum. [3] Tum deinde, nulla intercurrente mora, prefata gloriosa uirgo iniurias serui sui seuerissima uindicauit ultione. Denique nocte quadam recubanti in stratu suo impio Leouigildo tiranno adstitit ei que flagris diu multum que utraque latera uerberauit dicens: "Redde mici seruum meum. Nam si moram feceris ad reddendum, scito te acrioribus suppliciis excruciandum". [4] Ita nimirum flagellatus est miser, ut expergefactus cum fletu magno cunctis sibi adsistentibus inlatos ostenderet libores et idcirco se clamitans fuisse flagellatum, quia sanctissimo episcopo iniurias inrogasset. Nam quis ei uerbera intulerit, nomen, habitum uultus que uenustatem singillatim pandit et omnia magnis cum eiulatibus manifestissime propalauit. [5] Ylico namque ueritus ne grauius Dei iudicio multaretur, ut erat semper in omnibus rebus simulator pessimus ac dissimulator fallacissimus, pietate simulata precepit ut uir Dei, qui frustra fuerat a ciuitate sua remotus, rursus ad suam accederet regendam eclesiam. [6] Qui dum ea que postulabat insanissimus rex minus annueret sanctissimus uir Masona sese que permansurum ubi religatus fuerat assereret, iterum iterum que oblatis precibus poposcit ut ad suam dignaretur redire ciuitatem.

'1. Some days later when he had gone into the church of the monastery to pray, the most holy virgin Eulalia suddenly appeared above the altar of that holy basilica in the form of a snow white dove and addressing him gently like a caring mistress, saw fit to console her faithful servant. Then she said to him, "Behold it is time for you to return to your city and resume your former service to me." And when she had said this she swiftly flew from his sight. 2. The man of God exulted that he had been granted so great a vision and consolation yet began to weep deeply because he was to lose the tranquillity of his poverty and exile and be returned to the storms and tempests of the world. For he had no doubt that what he had heard would swiftly come to pass. 3. Then, without any delay, this glorious virgin wrought retribution with stern vengeance for the wrongs done to her servant. One night she stood by the impious tyrant Leovigild as he lay on his bed and scourging him at length on both flanks said, "Restore my servant to me. And know that if you delay, I shall put you to death in ways worse than this." 4. The wretch was so fiercely flogged that he woke and with much weeping showed his weals to all his attendants, crying out that he had been scourged because he had done harm to the holy bishop. For he revealed who had whipped him, her name, her dress, and her beautiful countenance, making everything clear and all the while letting forth great wails of grief. 5. Then, fearing lest he suffer more from the judgement of God, as he was ever a schemer in all his affairs and a deviser of falsehoods, feigning piety he ordered that the man of God who had been taken from his town in vain, should return to rule over his church once again. 6. When the most holy Masona in no way assented to the mad king's request and said that he would remain where he had been exiled, he besought him time and again to deign to return to his city. Finally the piety of God most high softened his sincere heart and through its abundant benevolence opened the way for his servant.'

Masona forgives Leovigild his sin and comes back to Mérida. His replacement in the city, Bishop Nepopis is driven from the city in disgrace but earlier using the servants of the church of Eulalia he despatched to the city in which he previously was a bishop, a great number of wagons with the wealth of the Church of Mérida.

[12] Quumque hec agerentur, nutu Dei meritis que sancte Eolalie contigit eodem die subito sanctum Masonam cum infinita multitudine per ipsam uiam regredi ad Emeritam ciuitatem, per quam plaustra rebus eius honusta properabant. [13] Cui dum in ipso itinere aut procul ab urbe obuiasset, uir sanctus sciscitari precepit cui essent ista omnia uel plaustra. At illi cognoscentes proprium dominum, gaudio magno repleti responderunt: "Serui tui sumus, domine". Quos ille denuo quid in plaustris ferrent interrogauit. [14] Illi autem dixerunt: "Res sancte Eolalie et tuas, quas hostilis predo Nepopis predabit, portamus et ipsi infelices in captiuitatem pergimus separati a rebus uel filiis uel uxoribus nostris et a patria in qua nati sumus expulsi". [15] Quod quum uir Domini audisset, gaudio magno repletus ayt: "Gratias tibi, Domine Ihesu bone, refero quia magna est multitudo dulcedinis tue, qui tantam in omnibus pro tuis, licet indignis, seruis curam gerere dignatus es, ut et nos ab omnibus malis ereptos prospere reduceres et res tuas dicioni inimicorum minime traderes". [16] Et hec dicens cunctos ad ciuitatem suam reuocari precepit ac sic quum inmenso gaudio gaudentibus cunctis ad urbem peruenit.

'12. While this was happening, it came about through the will of God and the merits of St Eulalia that on this day holy Masona was returning to the city of Merida with a great host on the self-same road along which the wagons loaded with his goods were hastening away. 13. When he met them on the way not far from the city, the holy man asked to be told to whom all these wagons belonged. And they recognising their true Lord were filled with great joy and replied, "We are your servants, Lord." Then he asked them once more what they were carrying in their wagons 14. and they replied, "Holy things which belong to St Eulalia and yourself and which our enemy, the bandit Nepopis, has stolen. We wretches are going into captivity separated from our goods, our sons, and our wives, driven out from the country in which we were born." 15. When the man of God heard this, he was filled with great joy and said, "I thank you, good Lord Jesus, because the plenitude of your kindness is so great that you deem it worthy to take such great care of your servants in all things, unworthy though they are, so that now you have restored us, freeing us from all evil and do not hand over your goods into the power of your enemy." 16. And on saying this, he ordered that they all be taken back to their own city and so he came to the city with all rejoicing in great joy.'

As soon as Masona enters the city, he goes to the basilica of Eulalia. The whole people of Mérida rejoiced for getting back its bishop. The city is again (see E03536) protected from famines, plagues, and storms from it was suffering during the absence of Masona.

Text: Maya Sánchez 1992, 75-78 (text numbering from Garvin 1945, as used by Fear). Translation: Fear 1997, 88-91. Summary: M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

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

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives



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 - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Punishing miracle Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of people and their property Miraculous protection - of church and church property Miraculous intervention in issues of doctrine

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Slaves/ servants Monarchs and their family


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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