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Patron Saints Day, Santa Eulalia

Patron Saints Day of Santa Eulalia is about to be celebrated across all of Spain but we look at the story behind the festivities...

Preparations are now well underway here on Ibiza for the Festival of Santa Eulalia, as they are throughout the whole of Spain, but while the towns of Santa Eulalia get ready to celebrate their patron saint, it is interesting to take a look at the story of the the saint herself.

There is some debate as to whether Eulalia of Barcelona and Eulalia of Merida are, in fact, one and the same person as their stories - much of which are based on legend - are very similar and equally as gruesome.

Eulalia was a devout Christian who lived in Spain during the persecution of the Christians by the Romans which began in the second century. In 304 AD when Eulalia was aged about 13, her mother tried to take her away and hide her in the countryside, due to the fact that all citizens were now required to pledge faith to the Roman gods, and knowing that her daughter would certainly martyr herself rather than agree to this.

Eulalia escaped and ran to the law court of Emerita, Spain where she professed herself a Christian and tried to remonstrate with Judge Dacian of Merida for the worship of false gods. At first, he was amused - Eulalia was nothing more than a child, and yet here she was boldly tormenting the Romans and their gods - but when it became clear that she would never renounce Christ, Judge Dacian ordered that her body be subjected to the most horrific of tortures, ending in decapitation.

Legend has it that as she died, a white dove was seen flying out of her mouth, followed by a miraculous snow fall which covered her body, the whiteness indicating her sainthood.

Santa Eulalia's remains were carefully entombed by Christians, and later they constructed a stately church on the spot where she died, which became a popular shrine for pilgrims. In 1339, they were moved to the crypt of Barcelona Cathedral where they still remain to this day. In 1639, she was made patron saint of runaways, torture victims, widows and Merida.

The church in Spain now reveres Santa Eulalia as its greatest virgin martyr and whilst most towns honour their patron saint with a few days of celebration, those dedicated to Santa Eulalia stretch to a full month, with the official patron saint's day being 12th February, the day of Eulalia's death.

Festivities in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, similarly to the rest of Spain, include parades, live music ranging from traditional to hip hop, exhibitions, craft fairs, competitions and lots of sporting activities from cycling and hiking to clay pigeon shooting and, of course, traditional feasting.

For more details of the festivities, please see our Events / What's On Ibiza Calendar

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