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E06680: Hymn in honour of *Ioulianos/Julianus and Basilissa (martyrs of Egypt and/or Antioch, S01341) composed in Latin in Spain possibly in the 7th century.

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posted on 2018-10-03, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymns 141-142

At its beginning, the hymn proclaims the celebration of the feast of the martyr Julianus and exhorts the people to praise. What follows is the story of Julianus: he was a citizen of Antioch of high birth, he was well-educated, cherished by his parents and distinguished by his good morals (strophe 2, cf. Martyrdom of Julianus and Basilissa 2). When he is eighteen his parents want him to marry in order to produce offspring. Julianus holds a vigil for seven days and seven nights and he receives divine advice that he should marry (strophe 3–4, cf. Martyrdom 3). Julianus then agrees to marry a virgin named Basilissa. Many people come for the wedding and the streets of the city are full of music (strophe 5–7; cf. Martyrdom 5). But when the newlyweds enter the bedroom they both have a vision of Christ, angels and holy virgins which prompts them to make a vow of chastity (strophes 8–11; cf. Martyrdom 6–7).

Later, after the death of their parents, Julianus and Basilissa found monasteries on their inherited estates (strophes 12–13, cf. Martyrdom 9-10). They have the grace of influencing people through their teaching and are compared to lamps giving light to people (strophes 14–15; cf. Martyrdom 10). Basilissa has a vision of a brilliant column with an inscription which says that she and her virgins have found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God promises Basilissa to fulfil her prayer that all of her virgins will go to heaven, and she dies peacefully (strophe 16; cf. Martyrdom 16–17).

Martianus orders the persecution of Christians (strophe 1, cf. Martyrdom of Julianus and Basilissa 19). Julianus is tortured, but one of his torturers loses his sight. Julianus heals and converts him, making of him a future martyr (strophe 2–3, cf. Martyrdom 23). Julianus is further beaten and dragged through the streets where he is seen by the governor's son, Celsius (strophe 3–4, cf. Martyrdom 26–27). Celsius has a gleaming vision in which he sees luminous hosts accompanying and consoling the martyr. He also sees Julianus receiving the crown of the martyr, and three persons with aureoles singing sweetly. Prompted by this vision, Celsius runs to Julianus and converts to Christianity (strophes 5–7, cf. Martyrdom 27, 29). His parents are sad and angry because of the conversion of their son, and the governor orders him to be separated from the martyr, but the person who should have done this is paralysed (strophes 9-10; cf. Martyrdom 33–34). Julianus and Celsius are put in jail and their example converts twenty of the guards (strophe 11-12; cf. Martyrdom 35-36).

Seven Christian brothers led by magister Antonius (in the Martyrdom he is a presbyter) are encouraged by an angel to go to the jail, where they baptise Celsius and the soldiers; the whole group strives for martyrdom (strophes 13–15; cf. Martyrdom 37). Julianus revives a dead man who gives testimony that he was saved from hell by the martyr's prayers. He converts and is baptised; he accepts a new name Anastasius and is also later martyred with Julianus (strophes 16-19; cf. Martyrdom 41–42). On the next day, huge vats of hot tar and sulphur are prepared for the final punishment of the martyrs. The fire, however, does not harm them. After the miracle, Martianus agrees to a meeting between his son Celsius and his mother, which he promised him if he survived the fire. The mother spends some time with her son and she converts and is baptised (strophes 21–24; cf. Martyrdom 43–52). Later, at the prayer of the martyrs, the temple of the pagan gods collapses (strophe 25; cf. Martyrdom 59). Because of Marcianus' fury many martyrs die, while Julianus and Celsius are scalped and the skin from their heads is thrown to the wild beasts (strophes 25–26; cf. Martyrdom 61).

Finally, the martyrs are brought to the amphitheatre and there killed by the sword together with some criminals. The martyrs' bodies can be recognised among others because their blood is brightly white (strophe 27–28; cf. Martyrdom 62). At the martyrs' tomb, there is a font of water which produces miracles. The story of the ten lepers who are healed when baptised in the font and the voice from heaven declares that they were healed because of Julianus's faith (strophe 29–30; cf. Martyrdom 62).

(31) Iamiam, beate martyr, audi supplices,
iam, Iuliane, confobeto seruulos
et aduocatus martyrum consortio
fabe redemptis, languidis iam subueni,
155 aduersa pellens et secunda inpertiens.
(32) Tui sequaces adprobati seculum
discamus omnes moribus contemnere,
iram domare, fluxa carnis spernere,
nullo tenacis blandimento corporis
160 usi polorum perfruamur gaudiis.
(33) Nullis grauati criminum contagiis
semper supernis concrememur ignibus,
semper superna caritate feruidi
compunctionis innobemur munere,
165 Xristum sequentes prestolemur iudicem

(34) Dies ut illa cum tremenda uenerit,
mundumque terror iudicantis presserit,
sponsore sacro te patrono uernulo
dextram tenentes euadamus tartara,
170 regno potiti uestiamur gloria.

'(31) O blessed martyr, hear now us who beg you, O Julianus, show favour to your little servants and be an advocate for the redeemed, [so that they join] the community of the martyrs. Help those who are weary, drive away adversities and bestow good fortune.

(32) Recruited to be followers, let us learn how to despise the world in our conduct—to assuage wrath, defy bodily excitements, so that we, unused to the delights of obstinate flesh, might fully enjoy heavenly pleasures.

(33) Unburdened of pestilent crimes, let us always burn with heavenly fire, and let us, always fervent with the heavenly love, be renewed by the gift of compunction. Following Christ let us wait for Him as the judge.

(34) When this tremendous day arrives and the world is gripped by the fear of the judge, because you are our holy patron and compatriot, holding your right hand we will evade hell, and, having reached the kingdom, we will be vested with glory.'

Strophe 35 is a doxology.

Text: Sánchez 2010, 515-529. Summary and translation M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ioulianos and Basilissa, martyrs of Egypt and/or Antioch : S01341

Saint Name in Source

Iulianus et Basilissa

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

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

Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracles causing conversion Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Healing diseases and disabilities Power over life and death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Pagans Crowds Torturers/Executioners Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


These two hymns, 141 and 142, are one long poem in the manuscripts. It was divided later, most probably for liturgical reasons, and the division is retained in the early modern editions. The hymns are written in iambic trimeter. Pérez de Urbell (1926, 127) dated the hymn to the 7th century on stylistic grounds. This date was accepted by Szöverffy (1998, 37). See also Castro Sanchez 2010, 839-839. The hymn is transmitted by the following manuscripts: Emilianensis 30, Biblioteca Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid (10th c.); and Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, Biblioteca Nacional 10001 (10th–11th c.) in Madrid. 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.


The hymn follows closely the story told in the Latin version of the Martyrdom of Julianus and Basilissa as known from the Spanish Passionary (E###) and frequently borrows its wording. References to the chapters of the Martyrdom are given according to this version in the edition of Fabrega Grau 1953.


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: Blume, C., Die Mozarabischen Hymnen des alt-spanischen Ritus (Leipzig, 1897). Diaz y Diaz, M.C., Códices visigóticos en la monarquía leonesa (León: Centro de Estudios e Investigación "San Isidoro", 1983). Fábrega Grau, Á., Pasionario hispánico (Madrid, Barcelona: Atenas A.G., 1953). Férotin, M., Le Liber Mozarabicus sacramentorum et les manuscrits mozarabes (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1912). Norberg, D., An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Latin Versification (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004). 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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