Mar. 11, St. Eulogius of CÛrdoba

 |  NCR Today

"The city of Córdoba was the setting for an unusual historical drama that unfolded between the years 850 and 859, when forty-eight Christians were decapitated for religious offenses against Islam. More striking than the number of executions were the peculiar circumstances surrounding them. For one thing, as the sources unambiguously demonstrate, the majority of the victims deliberately invoked capital punishment by publicly blaspheming Muhammad and disparaging Islam. Moreover, though some Cordoban Christians applauded the executed Christians as martyrs, others regarded them as self-immolators whose unwarranted outbursts served only to expose the community as a whole to the emirs' suspicions."

--from the Introduction to Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain, by Kenneth Baxter Wolf, the John Sutton Miner Professor of History at Pomona College.

"Eulogius and fellow martyr-activists had been alarmed by Andalusia's cresting prosperity and distressed to see their fellow Christians' growing fascination with Islamic civilization. What they observed must have seemed portents of Christianity's utter demise: conversions to Islam were surging; Christians readily adopted Arabic culture and ways; Cordoba's bishops cozied up to al-Andalus's emirs; and Andalusian Christians eagerly served in the Muslim-run government and army."

"Christians adopted Arabic dress and spoke Arabic. Some had themselves circumcised to accomodate to the new culture."

"Eulogius himself was arrested in 859, charged with harboring an apostate from Islam, and sentenced to a flogging. But after witnessing so many martyrdoms, Eulogius may have sensed his own moment for bravery had arrived--or he may have contemplated the shameful prospect of rejoining Christian society chastened but alive after others had embraced a more drastic fate."

--from>A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain, by Chris Lowney (a former Jesuit and a former managing director of J. P. Morgan), Oxford University Press, USA, 2006. (Search term: Eulogius.)

Eulogius "told the judge to sharpen his sword and proceeded to point out the errors of Islam. Because Eulogius was such an important member of the Christian community, the judge had him taken to the emir's palace for sentencing by the 'royal counselors.' There a sympathetic courtier encouraged him to cooperate and avert his own execution:

"If stupid and idiotic individuals have been carried away to such lamentable ruin, what is it that compels you, who are outstanding in wisdom and illustrious in manner of life, to commit yourself to this deadly ruin, suppressing the natural love of life? Hear me, I beseech you, I beg you, lest you fall headlong to destruction. Say something in this the hour of your need, so that afterward you may be able to practice your faith. We promise that we will not bother you again anywhere.

"But Eulogius chose instead to maintain his course and continued extolling the virtues of Christianity. On March 11, 859, Eulogius was decapitated."

--from Wolf, Chapter Four, "The Life of Eulogius".

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June 16-29, 2017