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St. Eulalia, martyr and patron of Barcelona, pray for the people of your city


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The Anchoress - published on 08/17/17

Horrible news out of Barcelona, yet another planned terror attack executed by plowing a van into a street full of people and reports are that as many as 13 are dead and over twenty injured.

As ever, early reports can be proved wrong, and let us hope that in this case, the number is exaggerated. The images and live reports are difficult to look at. Reports say the van driver has escaped on foot. There also appears to be an ongoing hostage situation, and it is unknown whether one of the armed men involved is the driver. Some reports that one arrest has been made, but as I say these reports are always subject to clarification. For all we know there is no hostage situation at all.

When I hear about these attacks, I usually immediately learn the patron saint of a city and ask for their prayers for the people who are suffering or at risk. Barcelona’s patron is the martyr St. Eulalia, a 12-14 year old who suffered a nightmarish death in the 4th century. Her tomb resides in the Barcelona cathedral bearing her name, where her martyrdome is depicted along the walls:

In the first episode, the young woman is talking to her parents and we then see her walking by herself. In the long central section there are three scenes: first is her trial, in which she is condemned by the prefect Dacian; then her martyrdom by whipping and, third, her martyrdom by tearing her flesh with a hook while she was on the cross. The narrow segment on the right represents the death of the Saint on the cross.

There is some question whether the city’s patron is the same person as St. Eulalia of Mérida, whose story is very similar. I’m not sure it matters in our prayers. In my research, I found John William Waterhouse’s painting “Saint Eulalia” and was struck by how similar is his awful depiction to the images we are seeing of people lying in the Barcelona’s streets. It took my breath away, and informed my prayer.

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Let us implore the prayers of St. Eulalia for people under siege and in grief.

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