University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06846: Hymn in honour of *Iusta and Rufina (martyrs of Seville, Spain, S02099), composed in Latin in Spain possibly in the 7th century.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-12, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 147


'In honour of saints Iusta and Rufina'

In the first three strophes Iusta and Rufina, compared to red flowers, are praised as virgins who desired to go to heaven and fulfilled their desire in martyrdom. In strophes 4 and 5 they are compared to the earthen vessels that contain the Lord's treasure (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7); the earthen vessel is a figure of the female body whose weakness is overcome in martyrdom.
(6) 25 Ob hoc, uita, salus et uia, ueritas,
te summis precibus, Xriste rex, poscimus,
harum suffragio nos tibi consecres,
quarum tu fidei uoce placatus es.

(7) Mentis nos facito lampade uirgines,
30 fluxu corporeo effice liberas,
ut uotis rigidis corda calentia
gestantes habeant regna perennia.

'(6) On that account, we ask you King Christ - Life, Salvation, Way, and Truth – with lofty prayers to sanctify us for You through help of those by whose faithful voices You have been placated.

(7) Make us virgins by the light of your mind, free us from bodily desire so that we can, with our hearts burning with firm vows, obtain perpetual kingdom.'

Here follows the strophe with doxology.

Text: Sánchez 2010, 543-545. Summary and translation M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Iusta and Rufina, martyrs of Seville (Spain), 3rd c. : S02099

Saint Name in Source

Iusta et Rufina

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 - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



The hymn is written in rhytmic and quantitative asclepiadeic verse. It has been attributed to Isidore of Seville or someone of his circle (Castro Sanchez 2010, 840; Pérez de Urbel 1926, 215). The 7th century dating is accepted by Diaz y Diaz 1983, 340, and Szövérffy 1998, 35. The hymn is transmitted in the following manuscripts: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, ms. 10001 (9th–11th c.); Officia et Missae, Archivo Catedral in Toledo, ms. 35.6 (9th–10th c.); Alia Officia Toletana, British Library in London, ms. 30845 (11th c.); and Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, British Library in London, ms. 30851 (11th c.), with the lacuna in vv. 1–23. 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 comparison to the earthen vessels is not only Biblical but also hagiographical. The Passio Iustae et Rufinae (see E###), included in the Spanish Passionary, relates that the virgins's occupation was trade in ceramics (chapter 2).


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).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager