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E04660: Hymn in honour of *Columba (virgin and martyr of Sens, Gaul, S01862) composed in Latin in Spain, possibly in the 7th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-01-23, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 103


(1) Nardus Columbe floruit,
ligustra fraglant ortuli,
fulcite letam floribus,
stipate malis uirginem.

5 (2) Hec regis abta amplexibus
et osculis gratissima
Xristo fidem, quam sponderat,
cruoris arra consecrat

(3) Ignes gemellos seculi
10 strabit, subegit, depulit:
flammam petulcam barbari
focosque admotos sibi,

(4) Quum in lupanar posita
intrantis ad se luridam
15 libidinem conpescuit,
seseque flammis exuit

(5) Sic liberata ab ignibus,
locis retracta scenicis,
mucrone stricto plectitur,
nuptura celo adsciscitur.

(6) Cui uox ab astris intonat,
"ueni, Columba", personat,
tu, uocibus nostris fabens
ac nos polorum compotes.

Presta, pater.

'(1) The nard of Columba flourished, the flowers of the garden smell pleasantly. Support the joyous virgin with flowers and compass her about with apples [cf. Song of Songs 2:5].

(2) Worthy of the embraces of the king and most agreeable to kiss, she hallowed her faithful promise to Christ with the pledge of blood.

(3) She quenched, overcame, and removed the double fire of the world: the lustful flame of a barbarian and the blaze that approached her:

(4) While she was placed in the brothel, she repressed the lurid lust of those coming to her, and that way she escaped from the flames.

(5) Freed from this fire, she was taken from the theatre [i.e. from the brothel adjoining an amphitheatre], she was struck by a sharp sword, and accepted as a bride into heaven.

(6) To you the voice from the stars sings: "Come, Columba [i.e. the dove, cf. Song of Songs 2:10]", please hear our voices and let us have our share of heavens.

Hear us, o Father.' [the beginning of the last strophe with the doxology]

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 383-384. Translation and summary: M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Columba, virgin and martyr of Sens (Gaul) under Aurelian : S01862

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Liturgical texts

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



This hymn in honour of Columba is written in trimetric dimeter. The fact that it is in a good quantitative metre could suggest that it was composed in the 7th c., and the feast of Columba was certainly present in the Spanish liturgy at the end of the 7th c., because there is a prayer for her feast day in the Orationale Visigothicum (see E05712; the manuscript is from the 7th/8th c.). The placing of Columba in a brothel, the voice from heaven saying: Veni, Columba, and her death by the sword are all similar to the narration in the Martyrdom of Columba (BHL 1892, see E06285) included in the Spanish Passionary (the ms. is from the 9th c.). It is likely that the author of the hymn knew this Martyrdom. The attribution of the hymn to Bishop Maximus of Saragossa (the 6th/7th c.), which sometimes appears in scholarship (Blume 1897, 148; Fear 2011, 113, n. 25; Castro Sánchez 2014, 283, n. a), cannot be supported by any evidence. Two manuscripts conserve the text of the hymn: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10001 from the 9th/11th c.; and Officia Toletana, London, British Library Add. 30844 from the 10th c. Pérez de Urbel's method of dating hymns: Josef Pérez de Urbel's method is based on two preliminary assumptions: a) that the bulk of the Hispanic liturgy was composed in the 7th century, the 'golden age' of the Hispanic Church, and that important intellectual figures of this period (Braulio of Saragossa, Isidore of Seville, Eugenius of Toledo, et al.) participated in its creation; b) that the liturgy was, nevertheless, still developing and changing in the period after the Arab invasion, and therefore, many texts which we find in 9th, 10th, and 11th century liturgical manuscripts might be of more recent date. Some hymns can be dated to the period after 711, for instance if they mention 'hagaric oppression' or if they are in honour of saints whose cult was imported later to Spain (they do not feature in earlier literary and epigraphic evidence, nor are attested in the oldest liturgical book from Hispania, the Orationale Visigothicum). It is more difficult to identify the hymns which are certainly from before 711. To this group Pérez de Urbell usually attributed hymns with a probable attribution to an author from the 7th century (like Braulio of Saragossa or Quiricius of Barcelona), and those which were stylistically close to the poetry of Eugenius of Toledo from the 7th century. Pérez de Urbell then compared two groups of the hymns and noticed the following: a) late hymns contain 'barbarisms' and solecisms, while early ones are written in correct classical Latin; b) late hymns are composed in rhythmic metres, early ones are frequently in the correct classical metres; that, up until the end of the 7th century, people still could compose in e.g. hexameters is confirmed by epigraphical evidence; these metric inscriptions disappear from the 8th century onwards; the 8th and 9th century authors who make attempts at writing in classical (quantitative) metres, always make mistakes; c) some rhythmical poetry could nevertheless be early; d) although both early and late hymns sometimes have rhymes, perfect rhymes occur only in late hymns. In the absence of any certain indications for dating, Pérez de Urbell assumed that a hymn is early if at least two requirements were met: the Latin is 'correct' and there are no perfect rhymes. He also considered early every hymn composed in a quantitative metre.


Editions: Blume, C., Hymnodia Gothica. Die Mozarabischen Hymnen des alt-spanischen Ritus (Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevii 27; Leipzig: O.R. Reisland, 1897). Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispanica (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 167; Turnhout: Brepols, 2010). Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispánica (Corpus Christianorum in Translation 19; Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Spanish translation. Further reading: Fábrega Grau, Á., Pasionario hispánico, (Madrid, Barcelona: Atenas A.G., 1953). Fear, A., Lives of the Visigothic Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 26; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011). Pérez de Urbel, J., "Origen de los himnos mozárabes," Bulletin Hispanique 28 (1926), 5-21, 113-139, 209-245, 305-320.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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