Barcelona’s patron saint Eulàlia does what she wants

Being rolled down a hill, naked, in a barrel full of nails and broken glass; breasts cut off; crucifixion. And ten other horrible tortures.

Some become holy for less, even though Eulalia’s canonization may have to do with her standing up for her fellow Christians, heavily persecuted in the Barcino, the Barcelona of the late third century. There’s only one question: how ‘real’ is Barcelona’s first patron saint Eulàlia (290/1? – 12 the February 303/4?), whose feast Barcelona is celebrating this month (see the link below).

Placa del Pedro Eulalia

The Plaça del Pedro in 1910, one of the places where Eulàlia would have been crucified. The original Eulàlia statue (1770) was heavily damaged in the Spanish Civil War and replaced in 1951 by a new one made by Frederic Marès, favorite sculptor of the Franco regime in Barcelona.

Burned at the stake
First of all, there’s Eulàlia of Mérida;  also a 13-year Christian virgin who complained to the Roman authorities – in Mérida this time -about the treatment of her fellow believers. And like the other one this Eulalia too underwent quite a few tortures and didn´t survive the last one – in her case it was being burned at the stake.

Two Eulàlias, one person
Reasons enough for some scholars to state that the two Eulàlias are actually one person. That is of course denied by the Catholic Church, but Barcelona’s Eulàlia, or rather her legend, is flexible enough for it. She travels effortlessly through time and space. Places and dates tumble over each other, depending on the version of Eulàlias story. Some examples:
The evil Roman Dacian, governor of Barcino, locked her up in a dungeon in the Carrer d’Arc de Eulàlia, the Volta del Remei or in the Boqueria de Sant Ramon del Call. Choose your street.

After her death Eulàlia practiced time travelling

And take the last of her thirteen tortures, the crucifixion. That took place on the Plaça de l’Angel, on the Pla de Boqueria on the Ramblas, or on the Plaça del Pedró in El Raval.

Carrer de l'Arc de Santa Eulàlia

The Carrer de l’Arc de Santa Eulàlia. Legend has it that the sun was so indignant about Eulàlia’s imprisonment that she retreated from the street forever.

Time travelling
After her death Eulàlia practiced time travelling. Not only were her remains moved from the Santa Maria de les Arenes (where the Santa Maria del Mar stands now) to the cathedral at Plaça Nova in 677 or 678, or according to another version, in 1339.
To be fair, there is agreement about the climatic conditions the day of her crucifixion: to cover Eulàlia’s nakedness, God provided a tremendous snow shower with giant flakes. Reason why it never seems to snow in Barcelona on February 12th.


Old B/W picture of Eulàlia in her alcove at the top of the Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, alleged place of her decline in a barrel full of broken glass and nails.

Underground river
A peculiar person so to speak, Eulàlia. Already as a child. Back to her childhood in her supposed birthplace Sarrià (other sources say it was Barcino). Laila (that’s how her parents called here) went one day to the local well to get water for the family. On the way to the well things already went wrong. Crying children came up to meet her. The source was completely dried up! No worries. Laila threw her headscarf over the well and – obladi oblada- the water began to flow. In fact, the current became a real river, now known as the (underground) Riu de Sota or Riu de Santa Eulàlia.




Festes de Santa Eulàlia 2018. Friday 11 to Monday 12 February. More info and the program here 

We visit several places were the story of Eulàlia takes place our bike and walking tours in Barcelona.

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