St. Eulogius’s friend and biographer Paul Alvarez affectionately described him as gentle, reverent, well-educated, steeped in Scripture, and so humble that he freely submitted to opinions of others less informed than he. He said that Eulogius had a pleasant demeanor and conducted his relationships with such kindness that everyone regarded him as a friend. A gifted leader, the most prominent among his charisma was the ability to give encouragement. As a priest serving in an occupied country, he used this gift to strengthen his friends in the face of danger.
In the ninth century, the Muslim conquerors of Spain made Cordoba their capital. They allowed Christians to live in relative peace and, subject to a monthly tax, permitted them to worship. Some, like Eulogius’s younger brother, even rose to high positions in the government.
However, in 850 the Muslims began to persecute Christians because some had spoken against Mohammed and converted Muslims to Christianity. They imprisoned the bishop and priests of Cordoba, including Eulogius. In jail, the saint read the Bible to his companions, exhorting them to faithfulness. He wrote to Flora and Mary, two young women who were threatened because they were converts. In the letter quoted below, he assured them that nothing done to their bodies could harm their souls:
They threaten to sell you as slaves and dishonor you, but be assured that they cannot injure the purity of your souls, whatever infamy they may inflict on you. Cowardly Christians will tell you, in order to shake your constancy, that the churches are silent, deserted, and deprived of the sacrifice on account of your obstinacy: that if you will but yield temporarily you will regain the free exercise of your religion. But be persuaded that, for you, the sacrifice most pleasing to God is contrition of heart, and that you can no longer draw back or renounce the truth you have confessed. . .You must fight till death and leave God to defend his church: you must fight till death because in such a struggle as this victory is won by death alone.
In 859, Eulogius himself was arrested because he had protected and hidden Leocritia, a young convert. He was charged before a judge, who offered to let him off if he would soften his views. But Eulogius began to proclaim the Gospel to the court, so to silence him the judge hastily condemned him to death. He was taken out and beheaded on the spot.
from Voices of the Saints, by Bert Ghezzi
Image credit: Martyrdom of Saint Eulogius of Cordova by unknown artist, 17th century. Public Domain via Wikimedia.