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may have been some such, where the would-be martyr from fear or any
other cause forwent his crown. Moreover these martyrdoms, by dividing
the Church on the question of their merit, whether, that is, the
victims were to be ranked as true martyrs or not, and, giving rise to a
written controversy on the subject, has supplied us with ample, if
rather one-sided, materials for estimating the provocation given, and
received, on either side.

As time went on, and the Christians and Moslems mingled more closely
together in political and social life, the Church no doubt suffered some
deterioration. Every interested motive was enlisted in favour of
dropping as far as possible out of sight[1] those distinctive features
of Christianity which might be calculated to give offence to the
Moslems; of conforming to all those Mohammedan customs, which are not in
the Bible expressly forbidden to a Christian;[2] and, generally, of
emphasizing the points on which Christianity agrees with Mohammedanism,
and ignoring those (far more important ones) in which they differ. The
Moslems had no such reason for dissembling their convictions, or
modifying their tenets. Consequently a spiritual paralysis was creeping
upon the Church, which threatened in the course of time, if not checked,
to destroy the very life of Christianity throughout the peninsula. The
case of Africa, from which Islam had extirpated Christianity, showed
that this was no imaginary danger. But Spain had this advantage over
Africa: it contained a free Christian community which had never passed
under the Moslem yoke, where the fire of Christianity, in danger of
being swept away by the devouring flames of Mohammedanism, might be
nursed and cherished, till it could again blaze forth with its former

[1] See below, p. 72, note 5.

[2] _E.g.,_ circumcision.

Yet in Mohammedan Spain religious fervour was not wholly vanished: it
was still to be found among the clergy, and specially among the dwellers
in convents. Monks and nuns, severed from all worldly influences, in the
silence of their cloisters, would read the lives of the Saints[1] of
old, and meditate upon their glorious deeds, and the miracles which
their faith had wrought. They would brood over such texts as, "Ye shall
be brought before rulers and kings for My sake;"[2] and, "Every one who
shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father,
which is in Heaven;"[3] till they brought themselves to believe that it
was their imperative duty to bring themselves before rulers and kings,
and not only to confess Christ, but to revile Mohammed.

[1] See Dozy, ii. 112.

[2] St Mark xiii. 9.

[3] St Matt. x. 32.

However, the reproach of fanatical self-destruction will not apply, as
the apologists of their doings have not failed to point out, to the
first two victims that suffered in this persecution.

Perfectus,[1] a priest of Cordova, who had been brought up in the school
attached to the church of St Acislus, on going out one day to purchase
some necessaries for domestic use, was stopped by some of the Moslems in
the street, and asked to give his opinion of their Prophet. What led
them to make this strange request, we are not told,[2] but stated thus
barely it certainly gives us the impression that it was intended to
bring the priest into trouble. For it was a well-known law in Moslem
countries that if any one cursed a Mohammedan, he was to be scourged,[3]
if he struck him, killed: the latter penalty also awaiting any one who
spoke evil of Mohammed, and extending even to a Mussulman ruler, if he
heard the blasphemy without taking notice of it.[4] Perfectus,
therefore, being aware of this law, gave a cautious[5] answer, declining
to comply with their request until they swore that he should receive no
hurt in consequence of what he might say. On their giving the required
stipulation, he quoted the words, "For there shall arise false Christs
and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch
that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect,"[6] and
proceeded to speak of Mohammed in the usual fashion, as a lying impostor
and a dissolute adulterer, concluding with the words, "Thus hath he, the
encourager of all lewdness, and the wallower in his own filthy lusts,
delivered you all over to the indulgence of an everlasting sensuality."
This ill-advised abuse of one, whom the Moslems revere as we revere
Christ, and the ungenerous advantage taken of the oath, which they had
made, naturally incensed his hearers to an almost uncontrollable degree.
They respected their promise, however, and refrained from laying hands
on him at that time, with the intention, says Eulogius, of revenging
themselves on a future occasion.[7]

[1] Eulogius, "Mem. Sanct.," ii., ch. i. secs. 1-4: Alvar,
"Indic. Lum.," sec. 3.

[2] See, however, Appendix A, p. 158.

[3] Alvar, "Ind. Lum.," sec. 6. "Ecce enim lex publica pendet,
et legalis iussa per omnem regnum eorum discurrit, ut, qui
blasphematur, flagellatur, et qui percusserit occidatur."
Neander V., p. 464, note, points out that "blasphemaverit"
refers to cursing Moslems, not Mohammed. Eul., "Mem. Sanct.,"
Pref., sec. 5, "Irrefragibilis manet sententia, animadverti
debere in eos qui talia de ipso non vcrentur profiteri." On
hearing of Isaac's death the king published a reminder on this

[4] See p. 91.

[5] Alvar, "Ind. Lum.," sec. 3, calls it a timid answer.

[6] Matt. xxiv. 24.

[7] "Accensum ultionis furorem in corde ad perniciem eius
reponunt." Eulogius, 1.1.

If this was so, the opportunity soon presented itself, and Perfectus,
being abroad on an errand similar to the previous one, was met[1] by his
former interrogators, who, on the charge of reviling Mohammed, and doing
despite to their religion, dragged him before the Kadi. Being
questioned, his courage at first failed him, and he withdrew his words.
He was then imprisoned to await further examination at the end of the
month, which happened to be the Ramadhan or fast month. In prison the
priest repented his weakness, and when brought again before the judge on
the Mohammedan Easter, he recanted his recantation, adding, "I have
cursed and do curse your prophet, a messenger not of God, but of Satan,
a dealer in witchcraft, an adulterer, and a liar." He was immediately
led off for execution, but before his death prophesied that of the
King's minister, Nazar, within a year of his own. He was beheaded on
April 18, 850.[2] The apologists, on insufficient evidence, describe the
death of two Moslems, who were drowned the same day in the river, as a
manifest judgement of Heaven for the murder of Perfectus.[3]

[1] "Dolo circumventum," says Alvar, "Ind. Lum.," sec. 4.

[2] Johannes Vasaeus places this persecution (by a manifest
error) in 950, under Abdurrahman III., stating at the same time
that some writers placed it in 850, but, as it appeared to him,
wrongly: "Abdurrahman Halihatan rex Cordobae movit duodecimam
persecutionem in Christianos."

[3] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct." ii., ch. i. sec. 5.

The example set by Perfectus did not bear fruit at once, but no doubt
the evidence which it gave of the ease and comparative painlessness,
with which a martyr's crown could be obtained, was not lost upon the
brooding and zealous spirits living in solitary retreats and trying by a
life of religious devotion to cut themselves off from the seductive
pleasures of an active life.

The next victim, a little more than a year later, was a petty tradesman,
named John,[1] who does not seem to have courted his own fate. He had
aroused the animosity of his Moslem rivals by a habit which he had
contracted of pronouncing the name of the Prophet in his market
transactions, taking his name, as they thought, in vain, and with a view
to attracting buyers.[2] John, being taxed with this, with ill-timed
pleasantry retorted, "Cursed be he who wishes to name your Prophet." He
was haled before the Kadi, and, after receiving 400 stripes,[3] was
thrown into prison. Subsequently he was taken thence and driven through
the city riding backwards on an ass, while a crier was sent before him
through the Christian quarters, proclaiming: "Such shall be the
punishment of those, that speak evil of the Prophet of God."

[1] Eugolius, "Mem. Sanct." i. sec. 9; and Alvar, Ind. Lum.
sec. 5.

[2] So Eulogius, 1. 1., and Dozy, ii., 129. Alvar's account (1.
1.) is not very intelligible: "Parvipendens nostrum prophetam,
semper eius nomen in derisione frequentas, et mendacium tuum
per iuramenta nostrae religionis, ut tibi videtur, falsa
auribus te ignorantium Christianum esse semper confirmas."

[3] Or, according to Eulogius, 500.

So far we have had cases, where the charge of persecution, brought by
the apologists of the martyrs against the Moslems, can be more or less
sustained, but the next instance is of a different character. Isaac,[1]
a monk of Tabanos, and descended from noble and wealthy ancestors, was
born in 824, and by his knowledge of Arabic, attained in early life to
the position of an exceptor, or scribe,[2] but gave up his appointment
at the age of twenty, in order to enter the monastery of Tabanos, which
his uncle and aunt, Jeremiah and Elizabeth, had founded near Cordova.

[1] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," ii. ch. ii. sec. 1, also Pref.,
secs. 2 ff. After his death Isaac was credited with having
performed miracles from his earliest years. He was said to have
spoken three times in his mother's womb (cp. a similar fable
about Jesus in the Koran, c. iii. verse 40), and when a child,
to have embraced, unhurt, a globe of fire from Heaven.

[2] Not, as Florez, a tax-gatherer.

Roused by the tale of Perfectus' death and John's sufferings, he
voluntarily went before the Kadi, and, pretending to be an "enquirer,"
begged him to expound to him the doctrines of Islam. The Kadi,
congratulating himself on the prospect of such a promising convert,
gravely complied; when Isaac, answering him in fluent Arabic, said: "He
has lied unto you - may the curse of Heaven consume him! - who full of all
wickedness has led astray so many men, and doomed them with himself to
the lowest deep of hell. Filled with Satan, and practising Satanic arts,
he hath given his followers a drink of deadly wine, and will without
doubt expiate his guilt with everlasting damnation." Hearing these, and
other like _chaste_[1] utterances, the judge listened in a sort of
stupor of rage and astonishment, feelings which even found vent in
tears; till, his indignation passing all control, he struck the monk in
the face, who then said, "Dost thou strike that which is made in the
image of God?"[2] The assessors of the Kadi also reproached him for
striking a prisoner, their law being that one who is worthy of death
should not suffer other indignities. The Kadi, having now recovered his
self-command, gave his decision, that Isaac, whether drunk or mad, had
committed a crime which, by an express law of Mohammed's, merited
condign punishment. He was accordingly beheaded, and, his body being
burnt, his ashes were cast into the river (June 3, 851). This was done
to prevent the Christians from carrying off his body, and preserving it
for the purpose of working miracles.[3]

Isaac's conduct and fate, Eulogius tells us, electrified the people, who
were amazed at the _newness_ of the thing.[4] It was at this point that
Eulogius himself began to shew his sympathy with these fanatical doings
by encouraging and helping others to follow Isaac's example.

[1] Eulogius, "Mem. Sanct.," Pref., sec. 5, "_Ore pudico_
summisque reverentiae ausibus viribusque."

[2] Cp. Acts xxiii. 3.

[3] Eulog., "Lib. Apolog.," sec. 35, mentions a proposed edict
of the authorities, visiting the seeker of relics with severer

[4] See Eulog., Letter to Alvar, apud Florez., xi. 290.

The number of misguided men and women that now came forward and threw
their lives away is certainly remarkable, and seems to have struck the
Moslems as perfectly unaccountable. The Arabs themselves were as brave
men as the world has ever seen, and, by the very ordinances of their
faith, were bound to adventure their lives for their religion in actual
human conflict with infidel foes, yet they were unable to conceive how
any man in his senses could willingly deprive himself of life in such a
way as could do no service to the cause, religious or other, which he
had at heart. They were quite unable to appreciate that intense
antagonism towards the world and its perilous environment, which
Christianity teaches; that spirit of renouncement of the vanities, nay,
even of the duties of life, which prompted men and women to immure
themselves in cloisters and retreats, far from all spheres of human
usefulness. Life under these circumstances had naturally little to make
it worth the living, and became all the more easy to relinquish, when
death, in itself a thing to be desired, was further invested with the
glories of martyrdom.

The example of Isaac was therefore followed within two days by a monk
named Sanctius[1] or Sancho, who was executed on June 5th. Three days
later were beheaded Peter, a priest of Ecija; Walabonsus, a deacon of
Ilipa; Sabinianus and Wistremundus, monks of St Zoilus; Habentius, a
monk of St Christopher's Church at Cordova; while Jeremiah,[2] uncle of
Isaac, was scourged to death. Their bodies were burned, and the ashes
cast into the river.

Sisenandus of Badajos[3] found a similar fate on July 16th: four days
subsequently Paul, a deacon of St Zoilus, gave himself up; and the same
number of days later, Theodomir, a monk of Carmona: all of whom were

[1] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," ii. c. 3.

[2] _Ibid._, c. iv.

[3] After his martyrdom he procured the release from prison of
Tiberias, priest of Beja! Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," ii. c. vi.



The next candidates for martyrdom were two young and beautiful girls,
whose history we learn from their patron, Eulogius, who seems to have
regarded one of these maidens, Flora, with a Platonic love mingled with
a sort of religious devotion.

Flora,[1] the daughter of a Moslem father and a Christian mother, was
born at Cordova. She is said to have practised abstinence even in her
cradle. At first she was brought up as a Moslem, and lived in conformity
with that faith, until, being converted to Christianity about eight
years before this time, and finding the intolerance of her father and
her brother unbearable, she deserted her home. But when her brother, in
his efforts to discover and reclaim her, persecuted many Christian
families, whom he suspected of conniving at her escape, she voluntarily
surrendered herself to him, saying, "Here am I whom you seek, and for
whose sake you persecute the people of God. I am a Christian. Do your
best to annul that confession: none of your torments will be able to
overcome my faith." Her brother, after trying in vain, by alternate
threats and blandishments, to bring her back from her error, finally
dragged her before the Kadi; and he, hearing her brother's accusation,
and her own confession, ordered her to be barbarously beaten, and then
given up nearly dead to her brother. She managed, however, to recover,
and escaped under angelic guidance.[2] Shortly afterwards, while praying
in a church, she was found by Maria, sister of Walabonsus
above-mentioned,[3] who had been martyred a few months previously.
Their father, being a Christian, converted his unbelieving wife. They
came to live at Froniano, near Cordova, and their daughter was educated
at the nunnery of Cuteclara, near the city, under the care of the
abbess, Artemia. Brooding over her brother's martyrdom, and perhaps, as
was so often the case, seeing his glorified spirit in a vision, she left
the cloister, determining to follow in his saintly footsteps. While on
her way to give herself up, she turned aside into a church to pray, and
found Flora there.

[1] "Life of Flora and Maria," by Eulogius, secs. 3 ff.

[2] _Ibid._, sec. 8. "Agelico comitante meatu."

[3] "Life of Flora and Maria," sec. 11. Lane Poole, "Moors in
Spain," says, "Sister of Isaac."

Together, then, did these devoted girls go forth[1] to curse Mohammed,
of whom they probably knew next to nothing, and lose their own lives.
The judge, however, pitying their youth and beauty, merely imprisoned
them. News of his sister's imprisonment being brought to Flora's
brother, he induced the judge to make a further examination of her, and
she was brought out of prison before the Kadi, who, pointing to her
brother, asked her if she knew him. Flora answered that she did - as her
brother according to the flesh. "How is it, then," asked the judge,
"that he remains a good Moslem, while you have apostatized?" She
answered that God had enlightened her; and, on professing herself ready
to repeat her former denunciations of the Prophet, she was again
remanded to prison. Here she and Maria are threatened with being thrown
upon the streets as prostitutes[2] - a punishment far worse than the
easy death they had desired. This shakes their constancy; when they
find an unexpected comforter in Eulogius himself, who is now imprisoned
for being an encourager and inciter of defiance to the laws. It is
strange that he should have been allowed to carry on in the prison
itself the very work for which he had been imprisoned. The support of
Eulogius enabled these tender maidens to stand firm through another
examination, and the judge, proving too merciful, or too good a Moslem,
to carry out the above-mentioned threat, they were led forth to die
(November 24, 851). Before their death they had promised Eulogius to
intercede before the throne of God for his release, which accordingly is
brought to pass six days after their own execution.[3]

An interval of only a little more than a month elapsed before
Gumesindus, a priest of the district called Campania, near Cordova, and
Servus Dei, a monk, suffered death in the same way (January 13, 852).[4]

[1] Eulog. to Alvar, i. sec. 2; "Life of Flora and Maria," by
Eulog., sec. 12.

[2] _Ibid._, sec. 13, and Eulog., "Doc. Mart.," sec. 4.
Eulogius tried to lessen the terror of this threat by pointing
out that "non polluit mentem aliena corruptio, quam non foedat
propria delectatis," - a poor consolation, but the only one! He
does not seem to have known - or surely he would have quoted
it - the express injunction of the Koran (xxiv. verse
35): - "Compel not your maidservants to prostitute themselves,
if they be willing to live chastely ... but, if any shall
compel them thereto, verily God will be gracious and merciful
unto such women after their compulsion."

[3] Eulog., letter to Alvar, Florez, xi. 295. Fleury, v. 100.

[4] Eulogius, "Mem. Sanct.," ii. c. ix.

There was now a pause for six months in the race for martyrdom, and it
seemed as if the Church had come to its right mind upon this subject.
This, however, was far from being the case. Hitherto the victims had
been almost without exception priests, monks, and nuns; but the next
martyrs afford us instances of married couples claiming a share in this
doubtful honour. These were Aurelius, son of a Moslem father and a
Christian mother, and his wife Sabigotha (or Nathalia), the daughter of
Moslem parents, whose father dying, her mother married a Christian and
was converted; and Felix and his wife Liliosa.[1] It would seem that
with all the harm that was done by this outbreak of fanaticism, some
good was also effected in awaking the worldly-minded adherents of
Christianity from the spiritual torpor into which they were sinking; for
these new martyrs were of the class of hidden[2] Christians, who were
now shamed into avowing their real creed.[3] Yet surely it had been far
better if they had been content to live like Christians instead of dying
like suicides. In their case, indeed, we find no sudden irresistible
impulse driving them to defy the laws, but a slowly-matured conviction
that it was their duty, disregarding all human ties, to give themselves
up to death. In this resolution they were fortified by the advice and
encouragement of Eulogius and Alvar,[4] the latter of whom prudently
warns Aurelius to make sure that his courage is sufficient to stand the
trial.[5] Sabigotha is persuaded to accompany her husband in his
self-destruction, her natural reluctance to leave her children being
overcome by Eulogius,[6] who recommends that they should be given over
to the care of a monastery. A seasonable vision, in which Flora and
Maria appear to her, clenches her purpose.

[1] _Ibid._, ii. ch. x., secs. 1, 2.

[2] See below, p. 72.

[3] Aurelius was roused from his religious dissimulation by
seeing the sufferings of John. See Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," ii.
c. x. sec. 5.

[4] _Ibid._, sec. 18.

[5] This would lead us to suppose that the courage of some
_had_ failed.

[6] Eulogius comments: - "O admirabilis ardor divinus, quo
filiorum affectus respuitur!" The parents not only desert their
children, but give away most of their goods to the poor,
thereby making their own children of the number.

Meanwhile a foreign monk from Bethlehem, who, being sent on business
connected with his monastery to Africa, had crossed over in Spain,
impelled by the wild enthusiasm there prevailing, determined to offer
himself as a candidate for martyrdom with the four persons above

They then take counsel together how they may best effect their purpose,
there being evidently enough difficulty in procuring martyrdom for
themselves to shew the statements of the apologists, that there was a
fierce persecution raging, to be at least much exaggerated, if not
entirely without foundation. The plan decided upon, which the devisers
audaciously attributed to the suggestion of God,[1] was that the women
should go forth unveiled and with hurried steps to the church, in the
hope that such an unwonted sight would direct attention to them, and
occasion the arrest of the whole number. It fell out as desired, and
they were all brought before the judge, and interrogated with the usual
result, except that the judge on this occasion dismissed them with
scornful anger.[2] But George, disappointed at his untoward clemency, as
they were being led away broke out with,[3] "Can you not go down to hell
without seeking to drag us also thither as your companions?"

This incoherent abuse naturally incensed the soldiers, as it was no
doubt intended that it should. Accordingly the prisoners were dragged
again before the Kadi, who asked them in a mild tone of remonstrance,
why they had abandoned the faith of Islam,[4] and refused to live,
promising them at the same time great rewards, if they would become
Moslems again. On their refusal they were remanded for two days, which
seemed a very long time, so eager were they to die. They pass the time
with singing hymns, and are blessed with visits of angels and miraculous
signs. Their chains drop off, and the gaolers dare not again bind those
whom Christ Himself had loosed.[5] The authorities, now as ever, anxious
if possible to avoid extreme penalties, determine to release George,
because they had not themselves[6] heard his blasphemy. He baulks their
merciful intention by repeating his words on the spot, and he is
accordingly led forth and beheaded with the others (July 27, 852).

Within a month Christopher,[7] a monk of Rojana, and of Arab lineage,
and Leovigild, a monk of Fraga, both being places near Cordova, are
executed for the same offence and in the same manner, their dead bodies
being nailed to stakes. While taking the air in his palace,[8] the king
saw these bodies, and ordered them to be burnt, and the ashes scattered
in the river. The same night Abdurrahman II. was struck down with
apoplexy, and the martyrs' friends hailed it as a manifest judgment from

[1] Eulog., "Mem. Sanct.," ii. sec. 27. "Omnes in cornmuni
coepimus _cogitare quomodo ad desideratum perveniremus
coronam:_ et ita _Domino disfiensante_ visum est nobis ut
fugerent sorores nostrae revelatis vultibus ad ecclesiam si
forte nos alligandi daretur occasio, et ita factum est."

[2] _Ibid._, sec. 29. "Exite quibus vita praesens taedium est,
et mors pro gloria computatur."

[3] _Ibid._, sec. 30. "An non poteritis vos infernalia claustra

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