FOUND DISPATCH FROM BARCELONA
Fin de semana: Santa Eulàlia
¡Este fin de semana en Barcelona hay una gran fiesta por Santa Eulàlia, copatrona de Barcelona, la cultura popular de raíz tradicional sale a la calle para celebrar la Fiesta Mayor de Invierno. Gigantes y gigantas, dragones, diablos, bailes tradicionales, el Àliga, la ‘gegantona’ Laia, ‘castells’… El viernes por la noche tiene lugar una nueva sesión del ciclo de conciertos Las Noches de Invierno, que dan visibilidad a las propuestas emergentes más atractivas del panorama actual.
February has Saint Eulalia while April has Sant Jordi (George) so we are now in between celebrating Barcelona’s co-patron saints.
Saint Eulalia (Aulaire, Aulazia, Olalla, Eulària) (c. 290–12 February 303), was a 13-year-old virgin who suffered martyrdom in Barcelona during the reign of Diocletian. There is some dispute as to whether she is the same person as Saint Eulalia of Mérida whose story is similar. Of course, anyone familiar with saint’s martyrdoms will recognize similarities. Two to three saints’ stories often meld together over time, as is the case with Saint Catherine (Sienna, Alexandria)>
For refusing to recant her Christianity, the Romans subjected her to
thirteen tortures including:
- Putting her into a barrel with knives (or glass) stuck into it and rolling it down a street (according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulalia “Saint Eulalia’s descent”).
- Cutting off her breasts
- Crucifixion on an x-shaped cross. She is depicted with this cross, the instrument of her martyrdom.
- Finally, decapitation.
A dove supposedly flew up from her neck following her decapitation. This
is one point of similarity with the story of Eulalia of Mérida, in which a dove
flew from the girl’s mouth at the moment of her death. In addition, Eulalia of
Mérida’s tortures are sometimes enumerated among the Barcelona martyrs, and the
two were similar in age and year of death.
Eulalia is remembered with statues and street names throughout Barcelona. Originally interred in the church of Santa Maria de les Arenes (St. Mary of the Sands; now changed to ‘of the Sea’, (St. Mary of the Sea). It was hidden in 713 when the Moors invaded. Recovered in 878, it was relocated to a sarcophagus in the crypt of the newly built cathedral dedicated to Santa Eulalia (1339). The festival of Saint Eulalia is held in Barcelona for a week around her feast or name day on February 12.
The Christian knight, protector of Barcelona
Sant Jordi, the Catalan equivalent of Saint George, is a very popular figure in Catalonia. He is the Patron Saint of the region, and Catalonia even have a Saint George Day – El Día de Sant Jordi, on April 23rd (Saint George’s name day in the Catholic church).
If you visit the Barrio Gótico of Barcelona especially one figure dominates in paintings, sculptures, alcoves and fountains. It is a knight with his sword high in the air fighting an enormous dragon. The knight is of course Saint George, in the Catalan version,Sant Jordi.
On this day, tradition has the girls giving a
book to the boys who give roses to the girls in return.
The rose motif stems from the myth, since after Saint George killed the dragon, a rose came up where the dragon’s blood was spilled. Giving books is more modern and highlights International Book Day. (Note that both Shakespeare and Cervantes died on April 23rd, both in 1616. This odd trivia fact was highlighted during the 400-th anniversaries of their death celebrated around the world three years ago.
Saint George, the most famous Christian
dragonslayer, holds tremendous power in many European centres besides Barcelona.
In fact, he is the patron saint of 15 European countries.