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E05057: Hymn in honour of *Cucuphas (martyr of Barcelona, S00502) composed in Latin in Spain, possibly in the 7th c.; also mentions the cult in Gerona (north-west Spain) of *Felix (martyr of Gerona, S00408).

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posted on 2018-02-10, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 106


(1) Barcinon, leto Cucufate uernans,
corporis sancti tumulum honorans
et locum sacri uenerans sepulcri
sparge ligustris.

5 (2) Munus hoc clarum tibi Scillitana
ciuitas misit, dedit et beatum
quando Felicem populis Gerunde
sorte colendum.

(3) Hi, sequestrato tumuli honore,
10 proprias sedes adeunt tuendas,
Barcinone hic celebratur aula,
ille Gerunda.

(4) Hinc cruor huius Cucufatis almi
factus est nostre regionis heres,
15 inde hic nobis sua membra ponens
uibere prestat.

'(1) O Barcelona, which blooms [because of] joyful Cucuphas, honours the tomb of the holy body, and worships the place of the holy grave, scatter it with white flowering shrubs (ligustra).

(2) This famous gift was offered you by the Scillitan city, just as it gave the blessed Felix to the people of Gerona to venerate as their share.

(3) They arrive to their sees to protect them by having entrusted to them the honour of their graves. One is celebrated by a church in Barcelona, the other in Gerona.

(4) Here the blood of the nourishing Cucuphas became an heir of our region; placing his body here for us, he lets us live.'

The next strophes (5-9) tell of Cucuphas tortured by soldiers: his intestines fall out of the body but he is healed by God (cf. Martyrdom of Cucuphas 3). Later he is tortured by fire (Martyrdom 7) and then by the gridiron (Martyrdom 6), but miraculously, he is not hurt. Eventually he is beheaded (Martyrdom 12).

(10) Iam fabe, martyr, precibus clientum,
instrue et ciuem, populum tuere
et sacerdotum pia corda mulce
40 pacis amore.

(11) Crimine dempto anima uirescat,
pane celesti satiemur omnes,
carnis elapse uitiata membra
spiritus ornet.

45 (12) Non ruinoso perimamur actu,
non cibis corpus uitiisque pressum,
non in occultis animus cremetur
igne malorum,

(13) Vt pie tecum, Cucufas beate,
50 regna celorum meritis tenentes
det Deo nostra resonans placentem
lingua canorem,

'(10) O martyr, favour the prayers of your clients, teach the citizen, protect the people, and soothe the hearts of the pious priests with love of peace.

(11) Let the soul blossom because its crime has been removed, let us all sate our hunger with celestial bread, and may the Spirit adorn the defiled limbs of corrupted flesh.

(12) Let us not die because of our ruinous acts, let our body not be oppressed by the sin of gluttony, and let our soul not be burned in darkness by the fire of torments,

(13) So that we can with you, o pious, o blessed Cucuphas, achieve by our merits the kingdom of heaven and our tongue sing constantly a pleasing song to God.'

The final strophe praises the Holy Trinity.

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 390-393. Translation and summary: M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cucuphas, martyr of Barcelona, Spain : S00502 Felix, martyr of Gerona (Spain) : S00408

Saint Name in Source

Cucufas Felix

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Liturgical texts - Hymns


  • 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)

Toledo Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified Other lay individuals/ people


The hymn in honour of Cucuphas is written in the Sapphic stanza. Pérez de Urbel (1926, 218) dated the hymn to the 7th c. because of the high quality of the poetic metre. This date is accepted by Díaz y Díaz (1958, 343) and Szöverffy (1971b, 35). The hymn is preserved in several manuscripts, including: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10001 (9th/11th c.; whole text); Officia et Missae, Toledo, Archivo Catedral, ms. 35.6 (9th/10th c.); Alia Officia Toletana, London, British Library, ms. 30845 (11th c.); Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, London, British Library, ms. 30851 (11th c.); Hymni (fragmenta), Madrid, Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia 118 guarda (10th/11th 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.


Interestingly, the sequence of the tortures in the hymn is slightly different to that recounted in the Martyrdom of Cucuphas (see E###) the martyr here is first tortured by fire and only later by the gridiron; the difference, however, is minor and does not necessarily suggest a variant source for our poem.


Edition: 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: Diaz y Diaz, M.C., Códices visigóticos en la monarquía leonesa (León: Centro de Estudios e Investigación "San Isidoro", 1983). Pérez de Urbel, J., "Origen de los himnos mozárabes," Bulletin Hispanique 28 (1926), 5-21, 113-139, 209-245, 305-320. Pinell, J. M., "Fragmentos de códices del antiguo Rito hispánico," Hispania Sacra 17 (1964), 195-229. Szövérffy, J., Iberian Latin Hymnody: Survey and Problems (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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